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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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A new study describes the earliest-known use of nutmeg as a food ingredient, found at an archaeological site in Indonesia.

Source: 3,500-year-old pumpkin spice? Archaeologists find the earliest use of nutmeg as a food

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Excavations at the medieval site of Tashbulak are co-directed by Michael Frachetti and Farhad Maksudov; research at the site is ongoing. Credit: Robert Spengler

 

Original article:
Phys.org

Studies of ancient preserved plant remains from a medieval archaeological site in the Pamir Mountains of Uzbekistan have shown that fruits such as apples, peaches, apricots and melons were cultivated in the foothills of Inner Asia. The archaeobotanical study, conducted by Robert Spengler of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, is among the first systematic analyses of medieval agricultural crops in the heart of the ancient Silk Road. Spengler identified a rich assemblage of fruit and nut crops, showing that many of the crops we are all familiar with today were cultivated along the ancient trade routes.

The Silk Road was the largest vector for cultural spread in the ancient world—the routes of exchange and dispersal across Eurasia connected Central Asia to the rest of the world. These exchange routes functioned more like the spokes of a wagon wheel than a long-distance road, placing Central Asia at the heart of the ancient world. However, most historical discussions of the ancient Silk Road focus on the presence of East Asian goods in the Mediterranean or vice versa. The present study, published in PLOS ONE, looks at archaeological sites at the center of the trans-Eurasian exchange routes during the medieval period, when cultural exchange was at its highest. Additionally, scholarship has focused on a select handful of goods that moved along these trade routes, notably silk, metal, glass and pastoral products. However, historical sources and now archaeological data demonstrate that agricultural goods were an important commodity, as well. Notably, higher value goods such as fruits and nuts were distributed along these exchange routes and likely contributed to their popularity in cuisines across Europe, Asia, and North Africa today. Ultimately, this study demonstrates how the Silk Road shaped what foods we all eat today.

Our everyday fruits and nuts have their roots in the Silk Road

Spengler analyzed preserved ancient seeds and plant parts recovered from a medieval archaeological site in the foothills of the Pamir Mountains of eastern Uzbekistan. The site, Tashbulak, is currently under excavation by a collaborative international Uzbek/American project co-directed by Michael Frachetti of Washington University in St. Louis, and Farhod Maksudov of the Institute for Archaeological Research, Academy of Sciences in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The plant remains recovered from this site represent one of the first systematic studies of the crops that people were growing along the Silk Road. In the article, archaeobotanical data are contrasted with historical and other archaeological evidence in order to discuss the timing and routes of spread for the cultivated plants. These plant remains date to roughly a millennium ago and include apple, grape, and melon seeds, peach and apricot pits, and walnut and pistachio shells.

This study demonstrates that there was a rich and diverse economy in Central Asia during this period, including a wide array of cultivated grains, legumes, fruits and nuts. The site of Tashbulak is located at 2100 meters above sea level, above the maximum elevations at which many of these fruit trees can be grown, suggesting that the fruit remains recovered at the site were carried from lower elevations. Historical sources attest to the importance of fresh and dried fruits and nuts as a source of commerce at market bazaars across Inner Asia. These trade routes facilitated the spread of many of our most familiar crops across the ancient world. For example, the earliest clear archaeological evidence for peaches and apricots comes from eastern China, but they were present in the Mediterranean by the Classical period. Likewise, grapes originated somewhere in the broader Mediterranean region, but grape wine was a popular drink in the Tang Dynasty. We can now say that all of these fruit crops were prominent in Central Asia by at least a millennium ago, likely much earlier. Spengler says, “The ecologically rich mountain valleys of Inner Asia fostered the spread of many cultivated plants over the past five millennia and, in doing so, shaped the ingredients in kitchens across Europe and Asia.”

Central Asia is a key homeland and dispersal point for many important arboreal crops, such as apples and pistachios

Spengler also points out that many economically important fruit crops originated in the foothill forests of eastern Central Asia. For example, studies suggest that much of the genetic material for our modern apples comes from the Tien Shan wild apples of southeastern Kazakhstan, and pistachios originated in southern Central Asia. Despite the importance of these arboreal crops in the modern world economy, relatively limited scholarly focus has gone into the study of their origins and dispersal. The data from Tashbulak are an important contribution to that study. The article shows the importance of archaeological research in Central Asia, highlighting its role in the development of cultures across the ancient world.

In his forthcoming book, “Fruit from the Sands,” Spengler traces the spread of domesticated plants across Central Asia. In the book, set to hit shelves in April 2019, he states, “The plants in our kitchens today are archaeological artifacts, and part of the narrative for several of our favorite fruits and nuts starts on the ancient Silk Road.”

Excavations at Tashbulak are ongoing, with support from Washington University in St. Louis, the Max von Berchem Foundation, and the National Geographic Society. Over the next few years, the research team expects that their research will better elucidate the nature of interaction and contact in the mountains of Central Asia. Frachetti notes, “The insights gained from this archaeobotanical study help link the juicy details of ancient cuisine to our modern tables, and in doing so highlights the long-term impact of interactions between diverse communities and regions on a global scale.”

 

 

 

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The limestone sinkers, each weighing between 14 to 52 grammes, would have been tied to the bottom of nets and used to catch small fish such as minnows in shallow streams

 

Original Article:

Phys.org

 

Archaeologists excavating a cave in South Korea have found evidence that suggests human beings were using sophisticated techniques to catch fish as far back as 29,000 years ago, much earlier than experts previously thought.

Carbon dating procedures on the fourteen limestone sinkers, unearthed in the eastern county of Jeongseon in June, have pushed back “the history of fishing by nets by some 19,000 years”, Yonsei University Museum director Han Chang-gyun told AFP.

Previously, researchers had excavated sinkers—stones used to weigh down nets for catching fish—in Japan’s Fukui Prefecture and South Korea’s Cheongju city, but those discoveries were all dated back to the Neolithic Era and believed to be around 10,000 years old, Han said.

“This discovery suggests humans in the Upper Paleolithic era were actively catching fish for their diet”, he added.

The limestone sinkers, each weighing between 14 to 52 grammes and with a diameter of 37 to 56 millimetres, had grooves carved into them so they could be tied to the bottom of nets and used to catch small fish such as minnows in shallow streams, he said.

Researchers also found fossilized bones belonging to fish and other animals, as well as stone tools and flakes, inside the Maedun cave, he said.

Prior to the South Korean find, the oldest fishing implements were believed to be fishing hooks, made from the shells of sea snails, that were found on a southern Japanese island and said to date back some 23,000 years.

pastedGraphic.png Explore further: Ancient fish hooks found on Okinawa suggest earlier maritime migration than thought

 

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Source: Eurekalert.org

Living plant varieties reveal ancient migration routes across Eurasia

The emergence of agriculture is one of the most important transitions in the development of human societies, as it allowed the establishment of settled communities, specialization of labour and technological innovation.

One centre of agricultural origins is the Near East, where barley was domesticated around 10,500 years ago, along with wheat and a number of other crops. Archaeological evidence shows that barley cultivation spread to its ecological limits in Europe, North Africa, and Central, South and East Asia, over a period of approximately 6,000 years.

New results published in PLOS ONE today show that different types of barley, suited to different end uses, ecological conditions and cropping regimes, spread via a variety of routes across Eurasia. In many cases, these routes of spread are backed up by archaeological and archaeobotanical evidence.

According to lead author Dr Diane Lister, researcher at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, “These results are based on the genetic analysis of living crops – traditional farmers’ varieties known as ‘landraces’.”

“These landraces were mostly collected during the early 20th century and are maintained in what are known as ‘germplasm’ collections around the world, with many landraces having precise geographical coordinates recorded. Numerous studies have shown that, remarkably, landraces can preserve an ancient and local genetic signature of the initial spread of farming during prehistory, and this is beautifully illustrated in this current study.”

The results indicate that the different eastward routes of spread of each barley population were distinct from each other in a number of ways, reflecting human choice of particular attributes or the effect of environmental adaptation. These different routes include ones to the north and south of the Iranian Plateau; through the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor in Central Asia, possibly connecting up to the Chinese section of the Silk Road; a high altitude spread on the southern edge of the Tibetan Plateau; a high latitude spread through the northern steppe; two distinct spreads into Japan; and a maritime route from South Asia. Previous research has provided increasing numbers of direct radiocarbon dates enabling the different routes to be dated.

Lister describes further, “One barley population is widespread, particularly around the coastlines. This population may have travelled eastwards via a maritime route from South Asia, via Southeast Asia. This particular population is made up of winter-sown varieties of barley, which are thought to be important in rice-growing areas of East Asia, where a crop of rice is commonly grown in the summer months, and barley adapted to winter-sowing regimes can be planted after the rice harvest. The development of multi-cropping practices during prehistory is thought to have greatly increased productivity and stability, enabling more complex societies to develop.”

“Another barley population predominates on the high Tibetan Plateau. This barley has a naked grain, making it a particularly attractive staple, as it doesn’t require the pearling process that hulled barley requires for human consumption. Along with the herding of yak, this naked type of barley is an essential for the Tibetan way of life, and their importance are clearly seen in the offerings of naked barley grains and yak butter in Tibetan Buddhist temples around the region. The staple carbohydrate eaten by the Tibetans is tsampa, made from roasted naked barley flour and mixed with salty Tibetan butter tea.”

Previous research carried out through the Food Globalization in Prehistory project at the University of Cambridge showed that barley cultivation appeared in the Chinese Tibetan Plateau 4,000 years ago, and is thought to have been of essential importance in colonizing the ‘roof of the world’. Some scholars have questioned whether this barley was a product of a local domestication of a wild ancestor separate from those in the Near East. This current study also looked at the genetic relationship between landrace barley, it’s wild progenitor, and weedy varieties. The results show that is unlikely that barley was domesticated in this region, and that ‘wild’ barleys on the plateau are probably weedy derivatives of cultivated barley.

What does this mean for today? Lister concludes, “Barley is an extremely hardy crop, able to grow in regions where other crops are unable to grow, and is an important staple in such environments. Understanding the spread of its cultivation during prehistory, and the various factors that affected its establishment in different regions of Eurasia, will contribute towards our understanding of climate change and its current and future effects on agriculture.”

 

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