Baking is one of the oldest forms of cooking food. Most anthropologists agree the invention of cooking-fires began approximately 250,000 years ago with the discovery of hearths, earth ovens, burnt animal bones, and flints across Europe and the middle East.
Some anthropologists speculate that bush fires — created by lightning strikes — scorched stems and roots that were subsequently eaten by our ancestors, providing the impetus for cooking with fire.
Crude ovens can be traced back to ancient man who mashed grains, and soaked them in water to make a paste-like pre-bread batter. They then pounded and flattened bread batter on a flat hot rock, and roasted the concoction over smoldering wood branches. In the Bronze Age, inverting a pot over hot stones was used as a primitive oven.
The process was refined by the Egyptians and Babylonians. The Greeks baked bread made from flour and honey soaked in wine, and the Italians constructed stone ovens used for baking. During the Roman Empire, being a professional baker was a coveted profession, where Romans used mills to grind grain into flour, and baked bread in ovens with built-in chimneys.
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