London: German archaeologists have discovered what may be the world's oldest pretzel - a type of baked bread product made from dough.
Found during a large excavation on the Donaumarkt in Regensburg near the Danube that was destroyed in the 1950-60s, the charred pretzel fragments are believed to be 250 years old.
The fragments were recovered under a floor in a structure long known to be a bakery.
"We found the remains of two pretzels, a piece of bread shaped like a croissant and three small bread rolls," Silvia Codreanu-Windauer of the Bavarian State Department of Monuments and Sites was quoted in a Discovery News report.
The baked goods were carbonised and that is why they were preserved for so long.
"We suppose the baker forgot the pieces in the oven and afterwards he threw them away in a hole under the floor," Codreanu-Windauer noted.
Carbon dating reveals the pastries were made between 1700 and 1800.
Archaeologists have also found evidence that in 1753 a baker named Johann Georg Held was living at the site.
"As far I know these are the world's oldest pretzels, although we know from 12th century miniature pictures and from a pretzel shaped fibula that these dough products were baked since the early middle age," Codreanu-Windauer pointed out.
It is believed pretzels were invented sometime between the 5th and 6th centuries by monks who twisted leftover strips of dough to look like arms crossed in prayer.
The baked goods represent the first archaeological proof of a typical Bavarian bakery assortment.