One of the most important aspects of the Neolithic life was that
of providing and preparing the food. We know a lot about how the
Neolithic communities obtained the food, but we know less about
how they cultivated the plants, raised the animals and cooked their
food , the few data are mere deduction obtained from analyzing and
comparing the way archaic communities and traditional ones prepare
the food. Thus, most of the animal bones discovered in the Cucuteni
settlements don’t have burning traces suggesting that the meat was
usually boiled and occasionally roasted. Also, the dishes having
marks of secondary burning prove that they were used to boil the
animal and vegetal food.
Sure data about the cooking of the vegetal food in these communities
are offered by numerous grinders found there. Cereal grains and
other kinds of seeds were milled and the product was used for some
broths. The flour for bread was made of wheat, barley, rye, millet.
It is difficult to know if the dough was leavened, but taking into
consideration that ethnographic data certifies the presence of some
vegetal enzymes, it is possible that the Cucuteni inhabitants used
some natural ferments to make the dough grow. The baking was done
on the heated surfaces of the fireplaces or on hot stones kept on
fire or in ovens.
The ovens were found in the houses and near them in sheltered places.
They were round or oval and had the fireplace made of clay built
on beams, on a stonebed or on some ceramic fragments. In many cases,
the stones or the potsherds were mixed with the clay in order to
maintain the warmth. The vault of the oven was made of clayed wattling,
as some remains prove that. Wishing to recreate some aspects of
the daily life of the Cucuteni communities, in 2002 we wanted to
raise an oven for bread, sheltered by a light wooden structure covered
with reed. At first, we built the structure of the fireplace using
stones glued with clay. On this structure we laid a thick layer
of clay which would be the surface of the fireplace.
Then we built the vault of the oven. We placed rods of nut tree
in the clay structure that was surrounding the fireplace and wattled
them until they made a vault over it. The pasting was done gradually
in order not to damage the wattling. At the back of the oven, in
the vault there was a small chimney. In front of the oven opening
we made a clay threshold where the hot charcoal could be kept after
the bread was put in the oven.Once the vault glued, we finished
the oven adding a fine layer of clay all over it. Then, we built
a wooden structure to protect it and covered it in reed, that’s
why the oven dried in time and at dark. The first fire helped us
find the cracks and fix them.
For the bread we used wheat flour. After the leavening, the dough
was turned into loaves of bread and knot-shaped bread. After the
oven had been heated, the bread was placed inside, on the fireplace
now clean of charcoal.
The baking lasted an hour. Obviously, this is an approximate reconstitution
but it was confirmed by the ethnographic data recorded nowadays
in Cucuteni. Beside the bread, they used to bake unleveaned dough
too, we call them ‘lipii’, or cooked different kinds of food, and
we will try to do the same in the future.