Since the cakes were cooked in an oven-like hearth, the findings suggest that the Chinese may have been among the world’s first bakers. Prior research determined the ancient Egyptians were also baking bread at around the same time, but this latest discovery indicates that individuals in northern China were skillful bakers who likely learned baking and other more complex cooking techniques much earlier.
“With the use of fire and grindstones, large amounts of cereals were consumed and transformed into staple foods,” lead author Yiwen Gong and his team wrote in the paper.
Gong, a researcher at the Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, and his team dug up the foods at the Subeixi Cemeteries in the Turpan District of Xinjiang, China. This important cultural communication center between East and Central China has a desert climate.
“As a result, the climate is so dry that many mummies and plant remains have been well preserved without decaying,” according to the scientists, who added that the human remains they unearthed at the site looked more European than Asian.