Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Asia’ Category

Wild apples

 

 

Recent archaeological finds of ancient preserved apple seeds across Europe and West Asia combined with historical, paleontological, and recently published genetic data are presenting a fascinating new narrative for one of our most familiar fruits. The apple was originally spread by ancient megafauna and later as a process of trade along the Silk Road. When previously separated varieties came into contact, hybridization and grafting allowed for the development of the varieties that we know today.

Source: Exploring the origins of the apple

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Prehistoric peasant farmers struggling to put more food on the table fueled the global spread of some of the world’s first and most important domesticated grain crops beginning as early as 7,000 years ago, according to an international study led by anthropologists at Washington University in St. Louis.

Source: Prehistoric food globalization spanned three millennia

Read Full Post »

 

LEFT) A LIVING MAIZE WEEVIL.
(RIGHT) IMAGE OF A MAIZE WEEVIL IMPRESSION FROM THE SURFACE OF A POTTERY FRAGMENT.

Original article:

eurekalert.org

 

Researchers have discovered an ancient Japanese pottery vessel from the late Jomon period (4500-3300 BP) with an estimated 500 maize weevils incorporated into its design. The vessel was discovered in February 2016 from ruins in Hokkaido, Japan. This extremely rare discovery provides clues on the cultivation and distribution of chestnuts, food in the Jomon era, and the spirituality of ancient Japanese people.

Maize weevils are beetles of the Dryophthorinae subfamily, and are destructive pests of stored rice and grains. By 2003*, Jomon-period pottery and pottery fragments containing foreign-body impressions had been collected by various researchers from multiple archeological sites around Japan. Surveys of these impressions exposed hundreds of seed and insect traces on and in the pottery. Over the years, researchers found that maize weevils constituted over 90% of all recorded insect impressions.

In 2010, Professor Obata’s research group from Kumamoto University (KU) in Japan found maize weevil impressions in 10,000 year-old pottery that had been recovered from the southern Japanese island of Tanegashima. They showed that maize weevils, which were thought to have come from the Korean Peninsula, had damaged stored food, such as acorns and chestnuts, long before rice cultivation began in the area.

In 2012*, the KU research group found maize weevils impressions in pottery fragments from the Sannai-Maruyama site in the northern Japanese prefecture of Aomori. The fact that weevils inhabited an area with a cold winter is an indicator for the distribution food by humans and a warm indoor environment that persisted throughout winter. It is presumed that weevil infestation of stored food was well underway in the Jomon period.

Continuing their study of pottery from northern Japan, Professor Obata’s team discovered the first maize weevil impressions from Hokkaido, and in February of 2016 discovered a pottery vessel that contained a large number of maize weevils. X-ray CT scans were taken to count insect cavities and revealed that 417 adult maize weevils were contained in the remaining parts of the pottery. In addition, if all of the missing pieces were accounted for, it is estimated that up to 501 weevils were mixed into the clay and appeared in the vessel when it was whole.

Interestingly, when comparing the body size of 337 maize weevil impressions found nationwide, the team discovered that the body length of maize weevils from eastern Japan was about 20% longer than that of western Japan. It is presumed that this body-length discrepancy is due to the different nutritional values between the types of foods they infested–the sweet chestnuts of eastern Japan vs the acorns of western Japan.

Chestnuts are not native to Hokkaido and previous studies surmised that people carried them to the northern Japanese island. The discovery of weevils at the Tatesaki archaeological site in Hokkaido is evidence that the Jomon people of Tohoku (south of Hokkaido) carried supplies, including chestnuts infested by weevils, over the Tsugaru Strait by ship.

“The meaning of a large amount of adult maize weevils in pottery was not touched upon in detail in my paper,” said Professor Obata. “However, I believe that the Jomon people mixed the weevils into the pottery clay with the hope of having a good harvest.”

Read Full Post »

Grape seeds found in ancient Sri Lanka may have been imported by Roman merchants.
iStock.com/RinoCdZ

 

By Lizzie Wade

Science mag.org

 

Visit Mantai, nestled into a bay in northwestern Sri Lanka, and today you’ll see nothing but a solitary Hindu temple overlooking the sea. But 1500 years ago, Mantai was a bustling port where merchants traded their era’s most valuable commodities. Now, a study of ancient plant remains reveals traders from all corners of the world—including the Roman Empire—may have visited or even lived there.

Mantai was a hub on the ancient trade networks that crisscrossed the Indian Ocean and connected the distant corners of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. The port town flourished between 200 B.C.E. and 850 C.E. During that time, it would have been a nexus for the spice trade, which ferried Indonesian cloves and Indian peppercorns to Middle Eastern and Roman kitchens.

But for such a potentially important site in the ancient world, Mantai has been difficult for archaeologists to study. After excavations in the early 1980s, research was halted in 1984 by Sri Lanka’s civil war. “Mantai was firmly in the red zone,” says Robin Coningham, an archaeologist who studies South Asia at Durham University in the United Kingdom. Only after the fighting ended in 2009 could a team led by Sri Lanka’s Department of Archaeology return to continue excavations.

Eleanor Kingwell-Banham, an archaeobotanist at University College London, joined the team to study the plant remains sifted from the excavated soil. She found an abundance of locally grown rice grains, but also more exotic products: charred black pepper dating to 600–700 C.E. and a single clove from 900–1100 C.E.—an exceptionally rare find, because ancient people were very careful with their spices, her team reports today in Antiquity. “Because [spices] are so valuable, people in the past really made sure they didn’t lose them or burn them,” Kingwell-Banham says. “These things were worth more than gold.” The clove, in particular, must have made quite a journey—about 7000 kilometers from its native home in the Maluku Islands of Indonesia.

The team also found remains that could link the port city to the ancient Mediterranean world—processed wheat grains dated to 100 to 200 C.E. and grape seeds dated to 650 to 800 C.E. Neither crop can grow in Sri Lanka’s wet, tropical climate, so they had to be imported, possibly from as far as Arabia or the Roman world. Kingwell-Banham says her team is studying the chemical isotopes absorbed by the plants to determine where they were grown.

But no matter their precise origin, the coexistence of rice and wheat is evidence of Mantai’s “cosmopolitan cuisine,” in which both local and foreign foods were eaten, she says. The discovery of wheat and grapes in Mantai “is entirely new,” and shifts the focus on goods transported from South Asia to the Roman world, to goods that went in the other direction,” Coningham says.

So were there Roman merchants living in Mantai, importing and cooking the foods of their homeland? “It’s certainly a possibility,” says Matthew Cobb, a historian who studies ancient Indian Ocean trade networks at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter. But no one has yet clinched the case with Roman ceramics. So exactly who in Mantai had a taste for Mediterranean food remains to be seen.

Read Full Post »

 

Photo taken on Nov. 7, 2018 shows the bronze pot containing the liquid unearthed from a Western Han Dynasty (202 BC to AD 8) tomb in Luoyang, central China’s Henan Province. Archaeologists on Tuesday poured liquid out of a bronze pot unearthed from the tomb into a measuring glass, giving off an aroma of rich wine.

 

original article:

Xinhuanet.com

ZHENGZHOU, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) — Archaeologists in central China’s Henan Province on Tuesday poured liquid out of a bronze pot unearthed from a Western Han Dynasty (202 BC to AD 8) tomb into a measuring glass, which gave off an aroma of rich wine.

“There are 3.5 liters of the liquid in the color of transparent yellow. It smells like wine,” said Shi Jiazhen, head of the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in the city of Luoyang.

He said the discovered content needs to undergo further lab research so the team can accurately ascertain the ingredients of the liquid.

A large number of color-painted clay pots and bronze artifacts were also unearthed from the tomb, which covers 210 square meters. The remains of the tomb occupant have been preserved, said Shi.

He said they will conduct lab research on items found in the main tomb chamber.

Similar-aged rice wine had earlier been found in other tombs dating back to the Western Han period. Liquor made from rice or sorghum grains were a major part of ceremonies and ritual sacrifices in ancient China. It was often contained with elaborate bronze cast vessels.

Shi said the bronze pot containing the liquid is one of the two big bronze items unearthed from the tomb. The other is a lamp in the shape of a wild goose, which was the first of its kind found in the city of Luoyang, capital of 13 dynasties, with a history of 3,000 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Using ancient proteins and DNA recovered from tiny pieces of animal bone, archaeologists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH) and the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography (IAET) at the Russian Academy of Sciences-Siberia have discovered evidence that domestic animals — cattle, sheep, and goat — made their way into the high mountain corridors of southern Kyrgyzstan more than four millennia ago, as published in a study in PLOS ONE.

Source: Major corridor of Silk Road already home to high-mountain herders over 4,000 years ago

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: