Neolithic Chinese Jar

Neolithic Chinese Jar


Block Reason: Access from your area has been temporarily limited for security reasons.
Time: Fri, 18 Jun 2021 17:49:18 GMT

About Wordfence

Wordfence is a security plugin installed on over 3 million WordPress sites. The owner of this site is using Wordfence to manage access to their site.

You can also read the documentation to learn about Wordfence's blocking tools, or visit wordfence.com to learn more about Wordfence.

Generated by Wordfence at Fri, 18 Jun 2021 17:49:18 GMT.
Your computer's time: .


Prehistoric China

Early Neolithic jars, with high flaring necks and rims, from Jiahu (Henan province, China), ca. 6000-5500 B.C. Analyses by the author and his colleagues showed that such jars contained a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit (hawthorn fruit and/or grape). (Photograph courtesy of Z Juzhong, University of Science and Technology in China, and Henan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, nos. M252:1, M482:1, and M253:1 (left to right), height 20 cm. (leftmost jar).

The earliest chemically confirmed alcoholic beverage in the world was discovered at Jiahu in the Yellow River Valley of China (Henan province), ca. 7000-6600 B.C. (Early Neolithic Period). It was an extreme fermented beverage made of wild grapes (the earliest attested use), hawthorn, rice, and honey.

The Jiahu discovery illustrates how you should never give up hope in finding chemical evidence for a fermented beverage from the Palaeolithic period. Research very often has big surprises in store. You might think, as I did too, that the grape wines of Hajji Firuz, the Caucasus, and eastern Anatolia would prove to be the earliest alcoholic beverages in the world, coming from the so-called “Cradle of Civilization” in the Near East as they do. But then I was invited to go to China on the other side of Asia, and came back with samples that proved to be even earlier–from around 7000 BC. There, at the Neolithic site of Jiahu in the Yellow River valley, the people were making, enjoying, and using what is so far the earliest chemically attested fermented beverage in the world in their burial and religious ceremonies. Like Midas Touch, it was another take on an extreme fermented beverage, and it illustrates once again the hold that alcoholic beverages have on the human race.

Most importantly, China began making pottery earlier than in the Near East (as early as 13,000 BC versus 6000 BC), and this was crucial to our discovery. Pottery is virtually indestructible, and liquids are absorbed into the pores of the pottery. As a result, ancient organics are preserved for 1000’s of years until we come along to extract and analyze them.

The pottery that we analyzed from Jiahu were jars with high necks, flaring rims and handles, which were ideally shaped to hold and serve liquids. Again, we used a whole battery of chemical tests to ferret out the original beverage.

You could call this extreme beverage a “Neolithic grog.” It was comprised of honey mead and a combined “beer” or “wine” made from rice, grapes, and hawthorn fruit. Rice is a grain, like wheat and barley, so by that definition it makes a beer (of about 4-5% alcohol), but when it’s fermented to 9-10% and has pronounced aromatic qualities, then it’s more like a wine. Maybe, the best modern comparison is with an aged Belgian ale or a barley wine. Although some ingredients have been interchanged, it’s also not all that different from Midas Touch in combining a wine, beer and mead, even if Jiahu precedes Midas by some 6000 years.

One topic ripe for discussion is how did it happen that China now has the earliest chemically attested instance of grape being used in a fermented beverage? Of course, the use of grape this early–likely a wild Chinese species such as Vitis amurensis with up to 20% simple sugar by weight–came as a great surprise. As far as we know–but continued exploration may change the picture–none of some 40 grape species found in China, the highest concentration in the world, were ever domesticated. Yet, this is the earliest evidence of the use of grape in any fermented beverage. And high-sugar fruit, with yeast on its skins, is crucial in making the argument that the liquid in the vessels wasn’t just some kind of weird concoction but actually was fermented to alcohol by the yeast.

We don’t know at this point whether hawthorn fruit or grape alone or in combination were used. After we announced that these were the most likely fruits based on our chemical results, a study of the botanical materials at the site–a discipline that has recently begun to be practiced in China–seeds of just those two fruits and no others were found. Although not helping us to decide whether either or both were used for the beverage, this provided excellent corroboration for our findings.

Jiahu isn’t just your run-of the-mill early Neolithic site. For example, it has yielded the earliest playable musical instruments in the world. Three dozen flutes were made exclusively from one wing bone of the red-crowned crane. Traditional Chinese music, using the pentatonic scale, can be played on the flutes, as demonstrated by the flautist for Beijing’s Central Orchestra of Chinese Music has produced. The flutes might well have played a role, along with the fermented beverage, in ceremonies to the ancestors, just like music and rice and millet wines Egypt (see “Research on Egyptian Medicinal Wines”) were closely associated with ancestor worship at the fabulous Shang Dynasty capital cities, such as Anyang, from about 1600 to 1050 BC, and up to present.

Jiahu has also produced what are arguably the earliest Chinese written characters ever found, incised on tortoise shells like those that occur at the fabulous Shang Dynasty capital cities, such as Anyang, thousands of years later. Such inscribed shells are believed to have been used by shaman-like priests to predict and assure a good future. We don’t know if the Jiahu shells, assuming they bear some kind of early Chinese writing, have the same significance as later, but the hypothesis gains credibility from their association with the musical instruments and especially the mixed fermented beverage, all-important parts of later Chinese religious and funerary ceremonies.

One topic ripe for discussion is how did it happen that China now has the earliest chemically attested instance of grape being used in a fermented beverage? Of course, the use of grape this early–likely a wild Chinese species such as Vitis amurensis with up to 20% simple sugar by weight–came as a great surprise. As far as we know–but continued exploration may change the picture–none of some 40 grape species found in China, the highest concentration in the world, were ever domesticated. Yet, this is the earliest evidence of the use of grape in any fermented beverage. And high-sugar fruit, with yeast on its skins, is crucial in making the argument that the liquid in the vessels wasn’t just some kind of weird concoction but actually was fermented to alcohol by the yeast.

We don’t know at this point whether hawthorn fruit or grape alone or in combination were used. After we announced that these were the most likely fruits based on our chemical results, a study of the botanical materials at the site–a discipline that has recently begun to be practiced in China–seeds of just those two fruits and no others were found. Although not helping us to decide whether either or both were used for the beverage, this provided excellent corroboration for our findings.

We could debate whether the rice in the Jiahu beverage was wild or domesticated, and whether its starch was broken down by chewing or malting. Chewing or salivating a grain, stalk or tuber to break down its starches into sugar appears to the be earliest method that humans employed for preparing their beers around the world. An enzyme–ptyalin–in human saliva acts to cleave the larger molecules into simple sugars. In modern Japan and Taiwan, communities of women still gather around a common vessel, and chew and ferment rice wine for marriage celebrations.

However the rice was broken down and fermented, it still leaves lots of debris that floats to the surface, and the best way around that is to use a drinking-tube or straw, the time honored method to drink beer in ancient Mesopotamia and rice wine in a traditional village of south China.–what you might call extreme beverage-drinking.

The same extreme fermented beverage attested at Jiahu was still being made some 5000 years later, ca. 2400-2200 B.C., at the site of Liangchengzhen in Shandong province. Anne Underhill, now of Yale University, excavates this site with her Chinese colleagues. She first invited me to the site in 1999, and I took the opportunity to travel the country in search of ancient fermented beverages.

More recently, my laboratory’s analyses of ancient Chinese beverages been expanded to include samples from Erlitou and Huizi, in collaboration with and with funding from La Trobe University (Li Liu) and the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Xingcan Chen). Since Erlitou is believed to be the capital of the first Chinese dynasty (Xia), once thought to be purely legendary, it holds out the promise of filling in the beverage gap between the Longshan period of Liangchengzhen and the Shang Dynasty.

Related to this research, additional liquid samples of western Han date (ca. 260 B.C.-8 A.D.) from Xi`an, provided through contacts at the Freer Museum, were analyzed at Firmenich Inc., Princeton, NJ (flavors and fragrances). They turned up negative.

P. E. McGovern, A. P. Underhill, H. Fang, F. Luan, G. R. Hall, H. Yu, C.-s. Wang, F. Cai, Z. Zhao, and G. M. Feinman
2005 Chemical Identification and Cultural Implications of a Mixed Fermented Beverage from Late Prehistoric China. Asian Perspectives 44: 249-75.

P. E. McGovern, J. Zhang, J. Tang, Z. Zhang, G. R. Hall, R. A. Moreau, A. Nuñez, E. D. Butrym, M. P. Richards, C.-s. Wang, G. Cheng, Z. Zhao, and C. Wang
2004 Fermented Beverages of Pre- and Proto-Historic China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 101.51: 17593-9 .


Basin with a Fish Pattern with a Human Face

Also from the Yangshao Neolithic culture, this basin made from fine red clay has black painted decorations of two opposing faces and two fish on its inside. Excavated from Banpo in Shanxi Province, it is believed to demonstrate the fish totem worshipping of the ancient Banpo people, who used to live near a river valley and used fishing as one of their means of life.


The Mythology of the Xia Dynasty

Little was known about the beginnings of the Xia dynasty, and until archaeological evidence was found in the 1960s, Yu the Great and the Xia dynasty, was mostly legend.

According to mythology, Huangdi 黄帝 ( huáng dì) and Yandi 炎帝 ( yán dì) were chieftains of the tribes along the Yellow River around 5000-4000 BCE. Many inventions have been attributed to each, including medicine and agriculture to Yandi and Huangdi, vehicles and building skills. Huangdi is also said to have ‘requested’ the creation of Chinese characters , the calendar and arithmetic.

Many Han Chinese people still refer to themselves as being descendants of Huangdi and Yandi or 炎黄子孙 ( yán huáng zǐ sūn) .

The discoveries of tombs and communities dating back from the Neolithic period turned these myths into reality. Primitive characters were found etched on bone objects, and village planning showed knowledge of mathematics. Pot kettles shaped like ships were found at Banpo suggesting knowledge of shipbuilding.

These tribes expanded east along the Yellow River and soon defeated the Chiyou tribe. These three tribes, Huangdi, Yandi and Chiyou were eventually combined to become the first Chinese civilization.

After Huangdi and Yandi, came Yao 尧 ( yáo) , Shun 舜 ( shùn) and finally Yu 禹 ( yǔ) , who were leaders of the Yellow River tribes. Floods were rampant during the period, and Yu had his people dredge the river and created an irrigation system to prevent further flooding.


Results and Discussion

A minimum requirement for establishing the original contents of an ancient vessel is to identify fingerprint compounds (biomarkers) for specific natural products and ingredients in its extracts. Sometimes unequivocal chemical confirmation, e.g., for Royal Purple dye (19), is achievable. Chemical identification and interpretation, however, often is impeded by environmental and microbial degradation, modern contamination, human processing in antiquity, and the degree to which a region's natural resources have been adequately surveyed for biomarkers. The advantage of using a number of independent chemical techniques, as in this study, is that one's confidence that a particular compound is present increases if the results from each method agree and reinforce one another.

Archaeological criteria also must be assessed for their bearing on the original vessel contents. The fabrication and style of a vessel are related to whether it held a liquid, semiliquid, or solid material. Narrow, high-mouthed jars and jugs, for example, were likely used to handle and store liquids. Deep, open vats or bowls, on the other hand, are most convenient for processing more viscous materials or serving solid food. Details of the residue on the interior of a vessel (possibly a precipitate from a liquid), associated archaeobotanical materials, and the archaeological context itself (whether a tomb, residence, workshop, pit, etc.) all can provide clues as to how a vessel was used. Such inferences, based on historical, ethnographic, and modern analogies, are at lower probabilistic levels than the chemical analyses. Yet, they are crucial in developing logically consistent working hypotheses, which are constrained by the limited archaeological record, and in setting the course of future archaeological and chemical research.

An Early Neolithic “Mixed Fermented Beverage.” The FT-IR and HPLC results for 13 of the 16 Jiahu extracted pottery sherds, when searched for the closest matches in our databases, showed that they were chemically most similar to one another. This result implies that all these vessels originally contained or were used to process a similar liquid. The three samples that did not match the larger group were extremely small, resulting in less definitive chemical determinations that likely account for their divergency rather than their contents having originally differed.

Besides matching one another, the Jiahu samples yielded good FT-IR and HPLC matches to modern rice and rice wine, resinated and nonresinated grape wine (ancient and modern), modern phytosterol ferulate esters, modern beeswax, modern grape tannins, various tree resins and herbal constituents (ancient and modern), modern diacylglycerols, and modern calcium tartrate. These matches correlate with specific IR absorptions and HPLC retention times and UV absorptions.

Fig. 2 shows an IR spectrum characteristic of the Jiahu group and illustrates how the statistical searches and matches correlate with specific absorptions. The sharp, intense peaks at 2,920 and 2,850 cm –1 , as well as the absorption at 730–720 cm –1 , are the result of long straight-chain hydrocarbons (e.g., n-alkanes). Tartaric acid, the principal organic acid in grape wine and also occurring in other Chinese natural sources (see below), probably accounts largely for the major peak at 1,740 cm –1 with a shoulder at 1,720 cm –1 . Some contribution from tannins, resins, waxes, and other compounds with carbonyl acid groups, however, cannot be ruled out. These natural products and compounds can be partly distinguished by examining their spectra for greater complexity in the carbonyl region above 1,740 cm –1 (most indicative of a tree resin) or in the carbonyl region below 1,720/1,710 cm –1 (most indicative of beeswax). The hydroxyl stretch band in the 3,450–3,500 cm –1 region is in accord with the tartaric acid interpretation, because tartaric acid contains four hydroxyl groups. Most decisive for tartaric acid is the hydroxyl bending band at 1,435–1,445 cm –1 , because other important hydroxyl compounds derived from natural sources and of archaeological interest absorb in the 1,460–1,465 cm –1 range. Similarly, a tartrate salt, which is more insoluble than the acid and would be expected to precipitate out of solution, is evidenced by a broad carboxylate absorption between 1,610 and 1,560 cm –1 . Other carboxylate peaks (at 1,460 cm –1 , 1,390 cm –1 , etc.) might be attributable to tartrate or other carbonyl/carboxylate-containing compounds. The presence of tartaric acid/tartrate was further borne out by positive Feigl spot tests for the 13 samples in the Jiahu group.

Diffuse-reflectance FT-IR analysis of storage jar (compare Fig. 1a ) methanol extract from Jiahu (no. T109:8, subperiod III, ca. 6200–5800 B.C.).

GC-MS analyses of samples in the Jiahu group also showed the uniform presence of an inclusive series of n-alkanes, C23–C36 (Fig. 1c ). Stable isotope analysis (Table 1) gave δ 13 C values (average –25.1‰) that were consistent with a C3 plant, such as rice or grape, but not a C4 plant, such as millet or sorghum. Low δ 15 N values and a very low proportion of nitrogen rule out an animal source.

The most straightforward interpretation of these data are that the Jiahu vessels contained a consistently processed beverage made from rice, honey, and a fruit. Taking each of these constituents and the combined evidence for their presence in turn, rice is strongly suggested from the IR and HPLC searches and matches. In fact, rice is the only cereal that has been recovered by archaeobotanical methods at Jiahu, and it is predominant in the corpus. To establish beyond doubt that rice was the principal grain in the Jiahu beverage, HPLC-MS and GC-MS analyses were run in search of cycloartenol, the principal alcohol in oryzanol (the phytosterol ferulate ester occurring in rice). The compound was not detected, possibly because of degradation.

Beeswax or a plant epicuticular wax, not represented in our databases but chemically similar to beeswax, was supported by the IR and HPLC matches. C23H48, C25H52, C27H56, and C29H60, attested in the homologous n-alkane series, are especially characteristic of those in beeswax (20, 21). They serve as biomarkers of honey, because beeswax is virtually impossible to filter out completely when processing honey, and its compounds can be very well preserved. By contrast, the sugars in honey, mainly fructose and glucose, rapidly degrade and are lost. Honey is a unique, concentrated source of simple sugars (60–80% by weight) in temperate climates around the world, and humans discovered and exploited it as a sweetener at an early date. It was very likely locally available in the Jiahu region.

Plant epicuticular wax, which occurs on the surfaces of leaves and fruits of many plants (22), also might account for the n-alkanes. If the C27 and C29 compounds predominate, with lesser amounts of the C23, C25, C31, and C33 compounds and even-numbered n-alkanes at very low levels, then beeswax is indicated. However, plant epicuticular waxes also have n-alkanes within the C23–C36 range, with the C29 compound usually most prominent. Further complicating the picture, when n-alkanes constitute a small percentage of the natural product, then this odd/even preference diminishes (23). This phenomenon is especially pronounced for senescent and fossilized leaves (24) and, presumably, also degraded archaeological samples.

Given their small sample size and age, the most plausible explanation for the Jiahu samples' C23–C36 range of n-alkanes is that they derive from epicuticular wax and/or beeswax. This result is consistent with the 730–720 cm –1 infrared absorption band caused by straight-chain hydrocarbons (25), accentuated in the chloroform extracts. Contamination from petroleum contaminants, possibly derived from groundwater percolation of pesticides or herbicides or laboratory-introduced, was ruled out by running blanks and because the boiling ranges of n-alkanes in modern products have different ranges of n-alkanes than those observed for the ancient series.

Grape possibly accounts for the tartaric acid/tartrate, because grape seeds of a presumed wild type constitute the primary ancient fruit remains found at Jiahu. With upwards of 40–50 native wild grape species (26), China accounts for more than half of the species in the world. At least 17 wild species grow in Henan province today, and wine is made from fruit containing up to 19% sugar by weight (e.g., Vitis amurensis and Vitis quinquangularis Rehd. = Vitis pentagona Diels and Gilg).

A large amount of tartaric acid/tartrate in an ancient sample is a strong indicator of a grape product in some parts of the world (e.g., the Middle East ref. 1), but other sources need to be considered for China. Moreover, the scholarly consensus has been that grape wine was first made from the domesticated Eurasian grape (Vitis vinifera vinfera), which was introduced into China from Central Asia during the second century B.C. (5), some six millennia later than the Neolithic period at Jiahu. References to native grapes occur as early as the Zhou period (27) but are enigmatic. These texts do indicate, however, that grapes were appreciated for their sweetness and used in beverage-making.

An especially strong candidate for the source of the tartaric acid/tartrate in the Jiahu samples, instead of grape, is the Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida and Crataegus cuneata Chinese herbal name Shan Zha). This fruit contains four times the amount of tartaric acid in grape (28), and the modern distribution of hawthorn encompasses northern China (29). A high sugar content implies that it could harbor yeast, like grape. When we first entertained the possibility that hawthorn tree fruit might explain the tartaric acid/tartrate evidence, this species was notably absent in the archaeobotanical corpus of ancient China. In 2002, Z. Zhao and his colleague, Zhaocheng Kong, first identified seeds of this fruit from early Neolithic levels at Jiahu, thus strengthening the case for its use in the mixed beverage (Z. Zhao and Z. Kong, unpublished data).

Tartaric acid occurs in two other fruits, although in much lesser amounts (30 mg/liter) than in grape (4 g/liter) or hawthorn tree fruit (16 g/liter), namely, longyan (Euphoria longyan Long Yan ref. 30) and Asiatic cornelian cherry (Cornus officialis Shan Chu Yu ref. 31). The fruits of these trees, which are concentrated in southern China today, are moderately sweet and somewhat acidic. They probably grew farther north in Neolithic times when temperatures were likely milder than today.

Other possible sources of tartaric acid/tartrate cannot be ruled out but yield even lesser amounts (0.1–2 mg/liter) of tartaric acid/tartrate. The leaves of some plants (e.g., Pelargonium in the geranium family) have raphides of tartaric acid and calcium oxalate (32), which might be dispersed into a liquid by steeping. Saccharification of rice, which was the traditional method of Chinese beverage-makers since at least the Han Dynasty [ca. 202 B.C.–anno Domini (A.D.) 220], also produces tartaric acid, depending on the mold used (refs. 5 and 33–35, and see below).

The available chemical, archaeobotanical, and archaeological evidence for the Jiahu jars and basins converge to support the hypothesis that they were used to prepare, store, and serve a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and a fruit. Direct chemical evidence of alcohol is lacking, because this compound is volatile and susceptible to microbial attack. Fermentation of the mixed ingredients, however, can be inferred, because the “wine yeast” (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) occurs in honey and on the skins of sugar-rich fruits. Once the juice has been exuded from the fruit or the honey diluted down, yeast begin consuming the monosaccharides and multiplying, within a day or two in warmer climates.

Aromatic Wines of the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties. Analyses of proto-historic liquid samples from tightly lidded bronze vessels, dated to the late Shang/early Western Zhou Dynasties, showed that they constituted somewhat different beverages than the mixed fermented drink of early Neolithic Jiahu. Numerous bronze vessels, variously dated to the Erlitou (ca. 1900–1500 B.C.), Shang (ca. 1600–1046 B.C.), and Western Zhou periods (ca. 1046–722 B.C.), have been excavated at major urban centers along the Yellow River or its tributaries in Hebei, Henan, and Shanxi provinces of northern China, including Erlitou, Zhengzhou, Taixi, Tianhu, Anyang, and other sites (8). Most often, they have been recovered from the elite burials of high-ranking individuals. The shapes of many of the bronze vessels [ornate tripod vessels (jue and jia), stemmed goblets (gu), vats (zun), and jars (hu, lei, and you)] imply that they were used to prepare, store, serve, drink, and ceremonially present fermented beverages, which is supported by textual evidence. Besides serving as burial goods to sustain the dead in the afterlife, the vessels and their contents also can be related to funerary ceremonies in which intermediaries communicated with the deceased ancestor and gods in an altered state of consciousness after imbibing a fermented beverage (36).

The fragrant aroma of the liquids inside the tightly lidded jars and vats, when their lids were first removed after some 3,000 years, suggests that they indeed represent Shang/Western Zhou fermented beverages. The Changzikou Tomb vessels, one of which is reported on here, exemplify this phenomenon: of more than 90 bronze vessels in the tomb, 52 lidded examples were still a quarter- to half-full of liquid (15). Most recently (early 2003), an excavation of an upper-class tomb in Xi'an yielded a lidded vessel holding 26 liters of what was described as a liquid with a “delicious aroma and light flavor” (G.C., unpublished data). What accounts for such amazing preservation of liquids, which would be anticipated to have evaporated and disappeared? Chinese bronze-making technology assured that the lids were tightly fitted to the mouths of vessels. Then, over time, the lids corroded and cut off further exchange with the outside atmosphere, hermetically sealing off any liquid remaining inside the vessels.

Previous attempts to identify the compounds responsible for the aromas of the liquids contained in the Shang/Western Zhou lidded bronze vessels, as well as other basic ingredients, have been largely inconclusive or are unpublished. Positive evidence for yeast cells was obtained from an 8.5-kg solid white residue inside a weng jar at Taixi (37), probably the lees of a fermented beverage. Habitation contexts at Taixi also yielded specific pottery forms, including a funnel and a deep vat with a pointed and recessed bottom (“general's helmet”), which were likely used in beverage-making (3, 5). Several jars at this site also contained peach, plum, and Chinese date (jujube) pits, as well as seeds of sweet clover, jasmine, and hemp, suggesting that an herbal fruit drink was prepared.

Our analyses of the liquids inside lidded jars from Anyang and the Changzikou Tomb can be summarized briefly. Beeswax and epicuticular wax compounds were absent, implying the absence of honey or a plant additive. Tartaric acid and its salts were present at a very low level only in the Changzikou Tomb, consistent with mold saccharification of rice. Although the Changzikou Tomb sample gave a δ 13 C value of –25.3‰ in accord with a C3 plant such as rice (Table 1), the stable isotope determination for the Anyang liquid (–15.9‰) indicated that a C4 plant was used as a principal ingredient. Millet, which is well represented in the Anyang archaeobotanical corpus, is the most likely candidate.

Thermal desorption GC-MS (Fig. 3) revealed that two aromatic compounds, camphor and α-cedrene, were present in the Changzikou Tomb liquid, in addition to benzaldehyde, acetic acid, and short-chain alcohols characteristic of rice and grape wines. Based on a thorough search of the chemical literature of Chinese herbs and other natural products, these compounds might have originated from specific tree resins (e.g., China fir, Cunninghamia lanceolate Hook. ref. 38), flowers (e.g., chrysanthemum spp.), or aromatic herbs, such as Artemesia argyi in the wormwood genus used to prepare saccharification mold (5, 39). A single open vat, filled with leaves of Osmanthus fragrans and holding a ladle, also was found in the tomb (15). Possibly, the beverage in the lidded containers of the tomb was steeped in the leaves, which have a floral aroma like the flowers that are used today in flavoring teas and beverages, and then transferred to the vessels. On the other hand, the absence of any wax compounds argues against this hypothesis.

Thermal desorption GC-MS analysis of lidded you jar from the Changzikou Tomb in Luyi county, Henan province, dated ca. 1250–1000 B.C. Peaks a, b, and c are caused by benzaldehyde, camphor, and α-cedrene. Possible wine-derived propanoic acid derivatives account for the two most intense peaks near 10 min. Other peaks correlate with ubiquitous environmental contaminants, especially phthalates.

According to HPLC-MS (Fig. 1d ) and standard GC-MS analyses, heavier aromatic compounds were present in the Anyang liquid: the triterpenoid β-amyrin and its analogue, oleanolic acid. These compounds are widespread in the Burseraceae (elemi) family of fragrant trees, although other sources (e.g., chrysanthemum) cannot be excluded.

FT-IR and HPLC matches of the Changzikou Tomb and Anyang liquids to samples in our databases provided additional indicators of the original natural products. Both samples were chemically most similar to modern and ancient resinated wine samples, as would be expected if they were fermented beverages flavored with plant-derived compounds. Modern yeast also provided a good FT-IR match for the Changzikou Tomb liquid.

The combined archaeochemical, archaeobotanical, and archaeological evidence for the Changzikou Tomb and Anyang liquids point to their being fermented and filtered rice or millet “wines,” either jiu or chang, its herbal equivalent, according to the Shang Dynasty oracle inscriptions.

Both jiu and chang were likely made by mold saccharification, a uniquely Chinese contribution to beverage-making (5, 9, 39). In brief, amylolysis fermentation, which remains the traditional method for making fermented beverages in modern China, exploits the fungi of the genera Aspergillus, Rhizopus, Monascus, and others, depending on environmental availability, to break down the carbohydrates of rice and other grains into simple, fermentable sugars. A thick mold mycelium was grown historically on a variety of steamed cereals, pulses, and other materials in making the saccharification-fermentation agent (qu). Rice, as an early domesticate and one of the principal cereals of prehistoric China, presumably was an early substrate. Yeast enters the process adventitiously, either brought in by insects or settling on to the large and small cakes of qu from the rafters of old buildings. As many as 100 special herbs, including A. argyi (above), are used today to make qu, and some have been shown to increase the yeast activity by as much as 7-fold (40).

Before such a complicated system as amylolysis fermentation was developed and widely adopted by the ancient Chinese beveragemaker, the grain probably was saccharified by mastication and/or malting. Because cereals lack yeast, the initiation of fermentation would have required a high-sugar fruit and/or honey, as attested by the Jiahu mixed fermented beverage.

Complex urban life eventually led to more specialized beverages and the amylolysis fermentation system, which became the standard method for making rice and millet wine. This changeover likely occurred between the late Neolithic period (mid-third millennium B.C.) and the Shang Dynasty (41). By saccharifying rice and other grains with specialized fungi, the beverage-makers of proto-historic urban China had less need for the sugars or yeast provided by honey or fruit. Although the prehistoric mixed fermented beverage fell into abeyance, this well made beverage was the forerunner of later technical developments. It is probably not coincidental that what some scholars believe to be the earliest Chinese fermented beverage (luo) was fruit-based (5). The weng jars with fruit remains from the middle Shang site of Taixi (above) would then represent a continuation of a tradition reaching back into the Neolithic period. Even today in many parts of China, a popular drink (shouzhou mi jiu) has suspended fruit bits in rice wine.

For nearly 40 years, scholars have relied on the stylistic similarities of the bronze vessels and their earlier pottery counterparts to argue for the existence of a prehistoric fermented beverage, first attested textually in the proto-historic Shang Dynasty. The ancient chemical evidence now enables the later beverages to be traced back as far as 7000 B.C. and reveals how Chinese beverage-making developed over the millennia. Our results also illustrate how both religious ceremonies and activities of everyday life in which these vessels were used, and still important in modern Chinese culture, likely have their basis in prehistory.


Neolithic period (c. 7000–1700 B.C.E.), an introduction

Banshan type jar, Gansu ware, Neolithic period, 5000–2000 B.C.E., earthenware with iron pigments, China, 36.1 x 42.3 cm (Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment, F1930.96)

The Neolithic period, or New Stone Age, is characterized by the beginning of a settled human lifestyle. People learned to cultivate plants and domesticate animals for food, rather than rely solely on hunting and gathering. That coincided with the use of more sophisticated stone tools, which were useful for farming and animal herding. In China, this period began around 7000 B.C.E. and lasted until 1700 B.C.E.

Map of Neolithic China, with hotspots corresponding to published excavations. Different hotspot colors represent the different cultures revealed. See a responsive map here (underlying map © Google)

It is traditionally believed that Chinese civilization first emerged along the Yellow River and then spread to other parts of China. However, recent archaeological evidence suggests that a number of distinct cultures developed simultaneously across China, all along waterways. These cultures were located near the coastal areas, the Yellow River in the north, and the Yangzi River in the south. They are usually named after the site where remains of the culture were first discovered by modern archaeologists.

Neolithic people did not write. However, because they lived in settled communities, they left many traces behind, including the foundations of their houses, burial sites, tools, and crafts. We learn from the archaeological record that their diet included millet or rice, they domesticated pigs and dogs, and, as in all Neolithic cultures, there was extensive pottery production. Cultures in central China along the Yellow River were known for their painted pottery. Toward the late Neolithic period (c. 5000–1700 B.C.E.), fine gray and black pottery of elaborate forms were produced by cultures along the east and southeast coasts. The forms and decorative patterns of these pottery vessels continued to the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1050 B.C.E.) and inspired the craftsmen of bronzes.

Hongshan culture, pendant in form of a mask, c. 3500–3000 B.C.E. (late Neolithic period), jade (nephrite), 5.7 x 17.2 x .4 cm (Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Gift of Therese and Erwin Harris, F1991.52)

Jade carving is another advanced craft invented by Neolithic people. It plays a major part in Chinese culture to this day. Neolithic jade objects include personal ornaments, such as bracelets, earrings, and pendants, but most importantly, objects designed for ritual or ceremonial use, such as axe heads, blades, and knives. Hongshan culture (c. 3800–2700 B.C.E.) in the northeast produced some of the earliest jades used as pendants, including the so-called pig dragons (a creature with the head of a pig and the curled body of a dragon) and the toothed pendants (such as the the pendant in the form of a mask, discussed in more detail below). [1] Both kinds were found placed on the chest of tomb occupants.

Liangzhu culture 良渚 (c. 3300–ca. 2250 B.C.E.), One-tier tube (cong 琮) with masks, Late Neolithic period, c. 3300–c. 2250 B.C.E., jade (nephrite), China, Lake Tai region, 4.5 x 7.2 x 7.2 cm (Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1916.118)

Sanxingdui culture, tube (cong), c. 2000–1000 B.C.E. (late Neolithic period), serpentine, China, Sichuan province, 3.4 x 6.4 cm ( Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: The Dr. Paul Singer Collection of Chinese Art of the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution a joint gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, Paul Singer, the AMS Foundation for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities, and the Children of Arthur M. Sackler, S2012.9.163)

Status objects like elaborate pottery and carved jades were placed in tombs during the Neolithic period. This practice suggests two things: Neolithic people’s belief in the afterlife and the emergence of social classes. Only important and wealthy individuals had the privilege of being buried with these precious objects, especially jades. These objects were luxuries, not necessary for life but cherished for for their beauty and ceremonial value. They required large amounts of raw materials and skilled labor to produce and were therefore accessible only to the ruling class, thus showing the existence of a surplus of wealth and labor in society.

The arts of Neolithic China not only demonstrate technical sophistication and superb craftsmanship but also reveal social organization and the emergence of religious beliefs.

Hongshan culture, pendant in form of a mask, c. 3500–3000 B.C.E. (late Neolithic period), jade (nephrite), 5.7 x 17.2 x .4 cm (Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Gift of Therese and Erwin Harris, F1991.52)

Pendant in the form of a mask

Hongshan culture, detail of pendant in form of a mask, c. 3500–3000 B.C.E. (late Neolithic period), jade (nephrite), 5.7 x 17.2 x .4 cm (Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC: Gift of Therese and Erwin Harris, F1991.52)

A single hole sits between the eyes. It is neatly drilled from both sides of the plaque. Can you guess why it’s there? It would have allowed the jade piece to be worn similar to a modern pendant, suspended on a cord and worn around the neck. It would have felt cool against the skin. All details are worked from the front, and the back is flat and polished smooth.

Amulet in the Form of a Seated Figure with Bovine Head 牛首玉人, c. 4700–2920 B.C.E. (Neolithic period), probably Hongshan culture, jade (nephrite), northeast China, 13.2 cm (The Cleveland Museum of Art)

The motif and meaning of toothed pendants have not yet been deciphered. Many scholars suspect that they are similar to other jade pendants that depict fantastic creatures. For example, an object from the Cleveland Museum of Art depicts the head of a cow on a human-like body and is also pierced for wearing as a pendant. These pendants appear to be more than mere decorations. They were all excavated from burial sites and found on prominent locations of the body. This pendant was most likely a power and status symbol for an elite member of the Hongshan community.


Neolithic

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Neolithic, also called New Stone Age, final stage of cultural evolution or technological development among prehistoric humans. It was characterized by stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding, dependence on domesticated plants or animals, settlement in permanent villages, and the appearance of such crafts as pottery and weaving. The Neolithic followed the Paleolithic Period, or age of chipped-stone tools, and preceded the Bronze Age, or early period of metal tools.

What occurred during the Neolithic Period?

The Neolithic Period, also called the New Stone Age, is the final stage of cultural evolution or technological development among prehistoric humans. The stage is characterized by stone tools shaped by polishing or grinding, dependence on domesticated plants or animals, settlement in permanent villages, and the appearance of such crafts as pottery and weaving. In this stage, humans were no longer dependent on hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. The cultivation of cereal grains enabled Neolithic peoples to build permanent dwellings and congregate in villages, and the release from nomadism and a hunting-and-gathering economy gave them the time to pursue specialized crafts.

When did the Neolithic Period begin?

The starting point of the Neolithic Period is much debated, as different parts of the world achieved the Neolithic stage at different times, but it is generally thought to have occurred sometime about 10,000 BCE. This point coincides with the retreat of the glaciers after the Pleistocene ice ages and the start of the Holocene Epoch. Archaeological evidence indicates that the transition from food-collecting cultures to food-producing ones gradually occurred across Asia and Europe from a starting point in the Fertile Crescent. The first evidence of cultivation and animal domestication in southwestern Asia has been dated to roughly 9500 BCE, which suggests that those activities may have begun before that date.

How did Neolithic technologies spread outward from the Fertile Crescent?

A way of life based on farming and settled villages had been firmly achieved by 7000 BCE in the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys (now in Iraq and Iran) and in what are now Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. The earliest farmers raised barley and wheat and kept sheep and goats, later supplemented by cattle and pigs. Their innovations spread from the Middle East northward into Europe by two routes: across Turkey and Greece into central Europe and across Egypt and North Africa and thence to Spain. Farming communities appeared in Greece as early as 7000 BCE, and farming spread northward throughout the continent over the next four millennia. This long and gradual transition was not completed in Britain and Scandinavia until after 3000 BCE and is known as the Mesolithic Period.

How long did it take other cultures to reach the Neolithic stage of development?

Neolithic technologies also spread eastward to the Indus River valley of India by 5000 BCE. Farming communities based on millet and rice appeared in the Huang He (Yellow River) valley of China and in Southeast Asia by about 3500 BCE. Neolithic modes of life were achieved independently in the New World. Corn (maize), beans, and squash were gradually domesticated in Mexico and Central America from 6500 BCE on, though sedentary village life did not commence there until much later, about 2000 BCE.

A brief treatment of the Neolithic follows. For full treatment, see Stone Age: Neolithic and technology: The Neolithic Revolution.

The Neolithic stage of development was attained during the Holocene Epoch (the last 11,700 years of Earth history). The starting point of the Neolithic is much debated, with different parts of the world having achieved the Neolithic stage at different times, but it is generally thought to have occurred sometime about 10,000 bce . During that time, humans learned to raise crops and keep domestic livestock and were thus no longer dependent on hunting, fishing, and gathering wild plants. Neolithic cultures made more-useful stone tools by grinding and polishing relatively hard rocks rather than merely chipping softer ones down to the desired shape. The cultivation of cereal grains enabled Neolithic peoples to build permanent dwellings and congregate in villages, and the release from nomadism and a hunting-gathering economy gave them the time to pursue specialized crafts.

Archaeological evidence indicates that the transition from food-collecting cultures to food-producing ones gradually occurred across Asia and Europe from a starting point in the Fertile Crescent. The first evidence of cultivation and animal domestication in southwestern Asia has been dated to roughly 9500 bce , which suggests that those activities may have begun before that date. A way of life based on farming and settled villages had been firmly achieved by 7000 bce in the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys (now in Iraq and Iran) and in what are now Syria, Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. Those earliest farmers raised barley and wheat and kept sheep and goats, later supplemented by cattle and pigs. Their innovations spread from the Middle East northward into Europe by two routes: across Turkey and Greece into central Europe, and across Egypt and North Africa and thence to Spain. Farming communities appeared in Greece as early as 7000 bce , and farming spread northward throughout the continent over the next four millennia. This long and gradual transition was not completed in Britain and Scandinavia until after 3000 bce and is known as the Mesolithic.

Neolithic technologies also spread eastward to the Indus River valley of India by 5000 bce . Farming communities based on millet and rice appeared in the Huang He (Yellow River) valley of China and in Southeast Asia by about 3500 bce . Neolithic modes of life were achieved independently in the New World. Corn (maize), beans, and squash were gradually domesticated in Mexico and Central America from 6500 bce on, though sedentary village life did not commence there until much later, at about 2000 bce .

In the Old World the Neolithic was succeeded by the Bronze Age when human societies learned to combine copper and tin to make bronze, which replaced stone for use as tools and weapons.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by John P. Rafferty, Editor.


Neolithic Period Large Chinese Painted Pottery Jar

Up for sale is a rare large Chinese Neolithic period pottery jar painted in black and brownish pigments with frog … more Up for sale is a rare large Chinese Neolithic period pottery jar painted in black and brownish pigments with frog or 'frog-man' patterns, Majiayao culture*, Machang phase, ca. 2300–2000 B.C., good condition with a small chip on the mouth rim (can be restored if requested after the purchase) and some nicks, color fade, firing imperfections and possible restoration
Private Brooklyn collection
18 in. wide, 15 3/4 in. high

*The Majiayao culture was a group of Neolithic communities who lived primarily in the upper Yellow River region in eastern Gansu, eastern Qinghai and northern Sichuan, China. The culture existed from 3300 to 2000 BC. The Majiayao culture represents the first time that the Upper Yellow River region was widely occupied by agricultural communities and it is famous for its painted pottery, which is regarded as a peak of pottery manufacturing at that time. The most distinctive artifacts of the Majiayao culture are the painted pottery. During the Majiayao phase, potters decorated their wares with designs in black pigment featuring sweeping parallel lines and dots. Pottery of the Banshan phase is distinguished by curvilinear designs using both black and red paints. Machang-phase pottery is similar, but often not as carefully finished. Its development is associated with the interaction between hunter-gatherers in the Qinghai region and the westward expansion of agricultural Yangshao people. less


Rare Chinese, Neolithic Pottery Painted Jar - 160mm handle to handle

The vessel has a strap handle on each side of the wide flared mouth and extends from the rim to the shoulders. Decorated with black painted geometric pattern around the body on top red pigment.

Slightly chipped rim with good amount of red and black pigment remaining. Nice example and intact.

Size: 160mm handle to handle

Provenance,
The seller of this lot hereby guarantees that this object was obtained legally. Purchased from Ex north London gentleman collection, collected in the 1980's.

Important information.
The seller guarantees that he is entitled to ship this lot.
The seller will take care that any necessary permits will be arranged.
The seller will inform the buyer about this if this takes more than a few days

Proud to be BNTA and ADA members and as such abide by their strict code of ethics. All items offered are AUTHENTIC and unconditionally GUARANTEED to be GENUINE.


Watch the video: Δύο αλατισμένα ψάρια. Πέστροφα Γρήγορη μαρινάδα. Ξηρός πρεσβευτής. Ρέγγα