first archaeological evidence for bread making comes from the Black
Desert of Jordan about 14,000 years ago. Wild grains were
make flat breads on fireside bakestones. Wheat and barley grains were
being used before the start of farming, so the choice of growing
already familiar crops was a simple one.
Early evidence of baking bread comes from the Neolithic. Flour ground on flat stone querns was mixed with water or milk and baked on flat stones for immediate consumption. At this time, wheat and barley were being cultivated as crops.
4000 years ago, the Ancient Egyptians were making bread using yeast. This type of bread was baked often in clay ovens and would keep for a couple of days before becoming too stale to eat. Baking was a family orientated process.
By about 2400 years ago, the Egyptians and Romans were using stone or brick built ovens in which to bake bread. Flour could be more efficiently ground using rotating stone querns to produce a finer and more consistent flour. Bread was a commercial product by this time.
As selective breeding of wheat and discoveries of new wheat types progressed, varieties were grown with increasing gluten content. This meant that over the years, bread types were developed where the dough could rise more and softer, bigger loaves could be produced. By the end of the Roman Empire, bread baking was an industrial process which was efficient enough to provide regular and sufficient supplies of bread to the Roman Legions.
The Devensian or last ice age affected the whole planet, but during the early timescale of the chart, the ice sheets were in retreat across Northern Europe and Northern Asia. The conditions around the Middle east were very favourable for change and development at this time. The world temperature was increasing slightly and the fertile range for plant and animal habitats was expanding northwards.
This part of the Bread Pages looks at the key recipes that were used in different periods of history.