The Turkmen people taught their grandchildren to love and respect bread from childhood. They greeted the guests with bread and salt and treated them to green tea. Chorek was compared to gold, the sun and the life itself. They revered and cherished it. They created songs, poems, stories and legends about bread. There are proverbs and sayings about it. “Bread is a nourisher”, “Bread and salt are friends” and “When there is bread, there will be a song” – these wise thoughts are about the main adornment of Turkmen dastarhan.
In ancient times, Anau was located at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road and had strong trade and economic ties with the countries of the East and the West. In 1904, an archaeological expedition led by an American explorer Raphael Pumpelly found several soft wheat awns, the age of which is 5,000 years, in the strata of the III millennium BC in Anau. Now, they are displayed at the world’s only Wheat Museum in Anau – the administrative centre of the Ahal velayat. The museum collection features grains, stone grain grinders (II millennium BC), hand millstones (III-II millennia BC), an oil press for sesame seeds, figurines of the goddesses of fertility (Namazga-Depe, IV millennium BC), a bronze hoe (II millennium BC), an arrowhead, a bronze knife (III-II millennia BC), ceramic dish fragments with monochrome and polychrome patterns and other interesting exhibits. The 10th-century Arab historian al-Istakhri wrote, “Merv is the best of the cities of Khorasan in terms of food supplies; bread in Merv is such that there is no purer and more pleasant taste in Khorasan…” The Arab geographer al-Maqdisi (10th century) aroused his admiration for the bread baked in Nisa, and a Persian historian Baihakki (11th century) pointed to the extremely low price of wheat grown in Dehistan. Historical materials confirm that during the Middle Ages, Turkmenistan was the largest exporter of wheat. The archaeological and palaeobotanical data support the conclusions of the outstanding academician Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, who assumed in the 1920s that the areas of the Kopetdag Mountains were an independent centre of the agrarian civilisation.