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Most archaeological evidence, however, suggests that fermentation was being used in one manner or another by around 4000 to 3500 B. Some of this evidence-from an ancient Mesopotamian trading outpost called Godin Tepe in present-day Iran- indicates that barley was being fermented at that location around 3500 B. Additional evidence recoverd at Hacinegi Tepe (a similar site in southern Turkey) also suggest that ancient Mesopotamians were fermenting barley at a very early date...
There is no question that fermentation takes place accidentally (as it must have done countless times before humans learned something about controlling the process), and most investigators believe that barley was first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent region of lower Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
In Jerusalem there was a bakers' quarter where bread was baked in tiers of stone-built ovens, or furnaces as they were called in the Bible.
In Ancient Rome bread ovens in the public bakeries were originally hewn from solid rock.
These ovens were heated by the familiar method of burning wood in the baking chamber, raking out the ashes and putting in the dough to bake.
The oven opening was closed with a large stone, sometimes sealed with clay.
These ovens or hearths took the form of clay-covered hollows in the floor which were heated with burning wood.
When the heat was sufficient the embers were raked out and the pieces of dough placed in the hollows and covered over.
166) On the Web Recommended reading: English Bread and Yeast Cookery, Elizabeth David Six Thousand Years of Bread, H. Jacob The Story of Bread, Ronald Sheppard and Edward Newton Ancient ovens & baking "The most important part of the baker's equipment is, and always has been, his oven.
For six thousand years and more it is the oven, however crude or complex, which has transformed the sticky wet dough into bread.
The loaves were then broken up and put to soak in water, where they were allowed to ferment for about a day before the liquor was strained off and considered ready for drinking." ---Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers Press: New York] 1988 (p.48) "Leavening, according to one theory, was discovered when some yeast spores--the air is full of them, especially in a bakehouse that is also a brewery--drifted onto a dough that had been set aside for a while before baking; the dough would rise, not very much, perhaps, but enough to make the bread lighter and more appetizing than usual, and afterwards, as so often in the ancient world, inquiring minds set about the task of reproducing deliberately a process that had been discovered by accident.
But there is an alternative and even more likely theory-that on some occasion ale instead of water was used to mix the dough.
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