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Australian Aboriginals are the first culture to make bread. Source:  Riccardo Niels Mayer / Adobe Stock.

Australian Aboriginals Have Been Baking Bread for 34,000+ Years!

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Long held as the inventors of bread, the Egyptians, credited with this culinary innovation around 8000 BC, have been surpassed by Australian Aboriginals in historical precedence. Remarkably, Aboriginal Australians were baking bread tens of thousands of years earlier, with evidence pointing to a practice dating back at least 34,000 years. This is based on the discovery of ancient grindstones in New South Wales, which were used to turn seeds into flour for baking, predating Egyptian baking by a significant margin.

Advanced Agriculture and Culinary Skills

Contrary to the image of Aboriginals as solely hunter-gatherers, early white settlers noted fields cultivated for crops such as the ‘murrnong’ yam, indicating a sophisticated approach to agriculture.

Aboriginal women played the primary role in this early form of baking, collecting various seeds depending on the season and region. These included native millet and spinifex, and even seeds collected from harvester ants' nests, where they had gathered around the opening of the nests. The ants had effectively collected and husked the seed for them.

The process of making flour was labor-intensive, involving winnowing with tools like the coolamon and grinding with millstones, some of which are as old as 50,000 years. This flour was then mixed with water to create dough, which was baked into nutritious bread high in protein and carbohydrates, forming an essential part of the traditional Aboriginal diet.

Australian Aboriginal making bread over hot coals. (Nachoman-au / CC BY-SA 3.0)

From Pigwig to Prickly Wattle

The Aboriginal method of bread-making also incorporated seeds from a range of plants, like pigwig and prickly wattle, showcasing their extensive knowledge of local flora.

This bread, sometimes cooked directly on hot coals or in a type of oven, was a cornerstone of Aboriginal cuisine and remains an integral part of their cultural heritage. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Europeans and the introduction of white flour, these traditional bread-making practices began to fade, although they were still practiced in some areas into the 1970s. Today, there's a resurgence in interest in these ancient techniques, with a focus on reviving and celebrating the rich culinary history of Aboriginal Australians.

Top image: Australian Aboriginals are the first culture to make bread. Source:  Riccardo Niels Mayer / Adobe Stock.

By Joanna Gillan

 

Comments

Aboriginal agriculture was not "sophisticated". What is sophisticated is the rewriting of history. One doesn't even need a single real Aboriginal ancestor to claim Aboriginal descent as an historian. One doesn't even need to be an historian either, just a good yarn-teller. Nobody much seems to check the sources are correct and the appointed fact-checkers are part of the same propaganda exercise anyway.

Australian anthropology is all about the never-ending apology. I would be reticent to trust anything about it these days. Anyone who trusts it explicitly is a fool. But not a lone fool. There are plenty of such fools for company.

Joanna Gillan's picture

Joanna

Joanna Gillan is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. 

Joanna completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree in Australia and published research in the field of Educational Psychology. She has a rich and varied career, ranging from teaching... Read More

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