The upper part, accessible from the top, was the baking chamber.
An oven of similar shape, but often constructed of hollowed stone instead of clay, was used by the early Jews.
The fact ovens based on this simple design formed the majority of those in use throughout Europe until little more than two centuries ago.
Instead of placing the dough pieces for baking on the bottom or sole of the baking chamber, the Jews put the pieces on the sides.
Being damp and sticky they remained in place intil they had dried out, when they fell to the bottom of the oven.
But there is an alternative and even more likely theory-that on some occasion ale instead of water was used to mix the dough.
The rise would be more spectacular than from a few errant spores and the effect would be easy to explain and equally easy to reproduce." ---Food in History, Tannahill (p.
There is an alternate theory regarding the invention of brewing.
Some historians believe it is possible that brewing began when the first cereal crops were domesticated.
The oven opening was closed with a large stone, sometimes sealed with clay.
Ovens which worked on this principle, but were constructed of bricks or small stones, may still be seen in the ruined city of Pompeii.
The Jews also had fixed ovens in some of their houses, frequently in the main rooms.
These ovens or hearths took the form of clay-covered hollows in the floor which were heated with burning wood.
A fire is kindled in the bottom and the dough is slapped against the hot interior walls, yielding curved disks of bread.