‘World’s first CHEERIOS’ discovered after 3,000-year-old ‘cereal rings’ found buried in ancient fort

IF you thought that box of cereal at the back of your cupboard was getting a bit stale, take a look at these seriously ancient snacks.

Bronze Age ‘Cheerios’ have been unearthed at a burial site in Austria and could provide insight into what people liked to eat 3,000 years ago.

These 3,000 year old burnt rings were made from cereal
N. Gail / CC BY-SA 4.0

The unusual discovery was made at the site of an ancient hill fort, which is believed to have contained very important cereal storage areas.

Archaeologists found the charred remains of three cereal shaped rings, which look a bit like Cheerios, in a storage pit and they think they were put there deliberately.

They are about 2.6 to 3.6 centimetres in diameter and lab analysis has shown that they are made from dough derived from wheat and barley.

The Cheerios we know today are made from oats.

The burnt cereal rings can be seen here alongside clay shaped rings, which were buried nearby
Heiss et al, 2019

The ancient dough also appears to have been made from fine quality wet flower during a very slow process, which could mean the cereal rings were so precious that they were used for sacred purposes.

Other food found at the ancient fort was not made with the same care, which further suggests that the mini doughnut shapes weren’t actually made for eating.

Some clay rings were also found near where the cereal discovery was made but they were likely used as weaving loom weights.

The ancient cereal was found at this Bronze Age hill fort site in Austria called Stillfried an der March
University of Vienna / CC BY-SA 4.0
The site is famous for Bronze Age discoveries

Although the scientists can’t say for sure what the rings were used for, it’s possible that the ancient ‘Cheerios’ were based on these weights and had some sort of symbolic value, such as being an offering to a god.

They could also have been ceremonial foods, which were only eaten in sacred places or on special occasions.

In depth analysis of the cereal rings showed what they were made of

This discovery was a world first and the research team think that there could be more cereal shapes to be discovered at different Bronze Age sites.

Lead researcher Andreas Heiss said: “Prehistoric bakers produced so much more than just bread.

“A Late Bronze Age “odd” deposit from central European site Stillfried (Austria) yielded dough rings comparable to Italian tarallini, discovered together with a larger number of clay loom weights, likewise ring-shaped – resulting in new insights into the material culture of food, symbolism, and diversity of dishes.”

A study about the cereal rings has been published in Plos One.

What was the Bronze Age?

Here's what you should know…

  • The Bronze Age was the period of time between the Stone Age and the Iron Age
  • It is characterised by the common use of bronze at the time and also the start of some urban civilisations
  • In Europe, the Bronze Age occurred from around 3200 to 600 BC
  • During this time period, ancient empires started to trade luxury goods
  • Some civilisations also developed writing


In other news, a ‘missing link’ in human evolution has been found after 30,000-year-old remains were dug up.

Ancient ‘cat fight’ fossils have revealed sabre-toothed tigers could puncture skulls with a single bite.

And, the ‘forgotten plague’ that ‘ravaged’ Brits 1,500 years ago has been discovered after 100s of skeletons were unearthed in Cambridge burial pit.

Do you fancy a Bronze Age Brunch? Let us know in the comments!


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Source: thesun
‘World’s first CHEERIOS’ discovered after 3,000-year-old ‘cereal rings’ found buried in ancient fort