Mental Floss

Learn How to Make Bread with a 2000-Year-Old Recipe

Caitlin Schneider

Would you eat a 2000-year-old loaf of bread? OK, maybe not a loaf that’s been sitting around for a couple of millennia, but how about one baked from a 2000-year-old recipe? In the above video, Italian chef Giorgio Locatelli (at the request of The British Museum) uses a recipe that was created in a backward fashion from a loaf left in the oven by a baker in Herculaneum—an ancient Roman town destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE (the same one that ravaged Pompeii).

The bread was found some 2000 years later during excavations. You can bake it yourself using the simple recipe provided in the original post, but watching Locatelli is its own fascinating investigation. It’s not only about figuring out how to nail the bread taste-wise—the chef also has to problem-solve his way through the shape based on a photo. And watching a modern baker trying to guess the thought process of one of his ancient ancestors is a pretty cool look at how the instincts of today can tell us a lot about yesterday. Plus, who doesn’t want to watch someone make bread?