Historians disagree on the origins of bread. Some say the Natufian hunter-gathers made flatbread between 11,600 and 14,600 ye. Others believe Egyptians made the first breads 10,00 years ago around …
Historians disagree on the origins of bread. Some say the Natufian hunter-gathers made flatbread between 11,600 and 14,600 ye. Others believe Egyptians made the first breads 10,00 years ago around 8,000 B.C.
Bread has been a part of every civilization known to exist. The Vikings kept pigs, cows and chickens and they ate a healthy diet of fruit and vegetables. Bread was more than just a staple to the Vikings. It showed where a person was in the hierarchy by what type of bread they ate. For example, slaves ate flatbreads that would soak up the juices from the stew whereas the chieftains ate a risen bread, much like today’s Irish Soda Bread, which was torn and dipped in the meal.
The Sami, a civilization encompassing a large part of Norway, Sweden and Finland, also held bread as a staple in their meals. Gahkko or gáhkku is a traditionally thick and soft flatbread. It is flavored with anise or fennel seeds and many times it is sweetened with a little syrup. Gahkko was traditionally served with hot meals such as the national dish bidos.
Another ancient held bread as a staple but and thanks to a recent discovery was found to have commercial bakeries. In 79 A.D. Mount Vesuvius erupted spewing lava and ash into the air for miles and eventually covering the city of Pompeii in 13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash. Pompeii’s excavation began in the 1700s and we are still learning about the people who lived there.
In 2016, it was discovered Pompeiians not only ate bread, but they had a full bakery in town where the baker milled his own flour and baked hundreds of loaves of bread a day. When the bakery was uncovered the mill stones were found and the oven was still intact, but it was what was inside the oven that made one archaeologist’s day.
A carbonized ring of bread was discovered by Farrell Monaco, a classical archaeologist who studies and recreates breads of the ancient world. Monaco studied the ring for seven years and with her expertise in the subject and the area, in her beliefs perfected the recipe. Monaco finally reproduced a bread long forgotten about known now as Arculata.
Arculata, according to historians, was most likely a common bread made of wheat flour that was sold on the streets by a hawker. Compared to other bread such as ciambella, which dates back to the 10th century, the idea that Arculata was the precursor to the Roman military bread was quickly dropped due to the lack of military in Pompeii.
These three civilizations are just a drop in the bucket. Cultures all over the world have eaten bread is some shape or form for centuries. Today, in the United States, it would be hard to find a dinner table surrounded by family eating that does not contain some form of bread. From biscuits to Sourdough, bread has remained a part of meals for many years and will for many more.