What the ancient Egyptians said about the bread we eat

He Ancient Egypt continues to arouse much interest in the current civilization, so much so that children in museums, generally, the first thing they want to visit is the tombs and the sarcophagi. Maybe they are the mysteries and enigmas of their pharaohs, their religion with hundreds of gods, the pyramids … everything in them has a different aura, made from another time, that catches the attention of today's man.

What we may not know is how much they have also influenced us in relation to our diet. Today, around one in five calories we consume come from wheat (Are you one of those who cannot eat without bread?), And the strangest thing is that most species of this wheat have a hybrid origin. In some cases, their genetic material was probably exchanged between different species with the first farmers, in others, simply modern farmers have made crosses between species to introduce genetic variations that serve to, for example, resist diseases.

Emmer wheat

The investigator Michael Scott explains in 'The Conversation': "The DNA Wheat is used to track changes that occur over time. We recently sequenced the genome of an Egyptian sample of Emmer wheat that was 3,000 years old, and comparisons with modern samples suggest a story of how that crop spread from one region to another. "

The Nile was a favorable area for wheat cultivation and the emmer was the most popular, perhaps for a matter of taste or because it adapted to the weather

The feeding in the Ancient Egypt It is known for the texts engraved on the walls of temples and tombs, which left habits testimonials. The production of onions, garlic, cucumbers, lettuce, chickpeas or lentils abounded. They also used spices such as cilantro and cumin, although they differed from us in that they barely ate veal. But nevertheless, the staple foods were bread (there were more than twenty different types) and beer, made with barley. The first, along with the oil and wine, were the primitive processed foods in the history of mankind, since cereals alone cannot be properly digested by the human digestive system. However, when processed, it became a basic food because it contributes carbohydrates.

The conditions to cultivate the cereal on the Nile They were very favorable due to periodic floods. In fact, the wheat was grown for the first time in the region of the Fertile Crescent of middle East, where there are still populations of emmer wheat, a species with which it is very difficult to separate the grain from the straw. It was the most common in the Egypt of the pharaohs, perhaps because it adapted to the local climate very well, or perhaps it was rather a matter of cultural preference or taste. "Actually we don't usually have bread made with this guy," says Scott. "I prepared a sample because I was curious, the taste is very sweet", Add.

The funny thing is that wheat cultivation helps us understand how the cultures were expanding. For example, as Scott points out: "Of the emmer wheat grown with comparable genetic data available, the Egyptian was very similar to modern emmer cultivated in Turkey, Oman and India. This suggests a genetic connection between the first expansions eastward and southward. "

Perhaps, coincidentally or deliberately, humans have changed crop plants. Emmer's, for example, has turned to others that are easier to process. As Scott says: "As the genetic technologies scientists we hope that can help the wheat enhancement and also to satisfy the growing global demands".