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Oldest bakery found -- and looks familiar

By SEIF AL-NASRAWI   |   July 28, 2002 at 1:20 PM   |   Comments

CAIRO, July 28 (UPI) -- An American archaeological team has discovered the remains of the oldest bakery to date used by ancient Egyptians to produce "sun bread" -- bread still made today in Egypt's southern villages, officials said Sunday.

The secretary-general of the Archaeological Higher Council, Zahi Hawas, said the archaeologists were digging south of the Sphinx in Giza when they found what was, in the third millennium B.C., a fully stocked and functioning bakery.

He told United Press International the discovery showed modern farmers in the rural villages in Egypt were still using the same methods to produce the same bread their forefathers made more than 4,000 years ago.

The team, headed by archaeologist Mark Lener, found trays and tools used to make and ferment the dough. Also uncovered were closets used to store the seeds before sending them to the bakeries, Hawas said.

Egyptologists said ancient Egyptians succeeded in producing yeast during the Old Dynasty (2686 to 2181 B.C.), and used it to produce the oldest known types of alcoholic beverages and 12 kinds of bread and pastries.

Team leader Lener told UPI the team also found tools and equipment used to construct two of the three pyramids of Giza, built to bury two of the most important pharaohs who ruled in the Fourth Dynasty between 2613 and 2494 B.C.

Among other discoveries:

-- a collection of archaeological pieces used to count the laborers building the two pyramids, believed to have exceeded 20,000 workers;

-- primitive statistical drawings to record the number of tools handed out to the workers;

-- an industrial zone that manufactured bronze tools and special uniforms for the laborers building the pyramids.

-- 250 ceramic stamps printed with the names of the Pharaohs Khafra and Manqara, owners of the second and third largest pyramids in Egypt.

The latest discoveries came within an archaeological campaign by Egyptian and U.S. archeologists in the Giza and Sakkara areas to uncover tools and technologies used by the ancient Egyptians to build the pyramids.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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