Biblical Archaeology Review 38:5, September/October 2012

Strata: What Is It?

A. peg board

B. cheese grater

C. incense holder

D. baking tray

Answer: (D) baking tray

The Lord’s Prayer includes a petition for “our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11; Luke 11:3), and indeed bread was in constant demand as a staple of the ancient diet. The production of bread also seemed a never-ending part of ancient life—from growing, harvesting and threshing the wheat in the fields to grinding the grains, mixing the dough and baking the loaves in the home. This ceramic baking tray would have been used repeatedly on a daily basis to prepare a family’s most essential food. Its exact provenance is unknown, but based on comparisons with similar examples, this baking tray is believed to have been made in Israel during the late second or early first millennium B.C.E. Although different methods for baking bread were used throughout antiquity, perforated baking trays like this one held flat loaves of dough over hot coals in an oven or fire pit, allowing the bread to bake quickly without touching the dirt, soot and ash.

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