Ancient alcohol in bronze pot unearthed in central China

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The liquid contained in a 2,000-year-old bronze pot unearthed in central China's Henan Province in May has been confirmed to be alcohol, archaeologists said Thursday.

After sampling and testing, researchers found the more than 3,000 ml of liquid, contained in the pot with a curved neck in the shape of a swan, is medicinal liquor from the early Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 25). The concoction was used to stop bleeding and reduce inflammation, according to the institute of cultural relics and archaeology of Sanmenxia, the city where the pot was found.

"The test report of the liquid shows the pot could be a drinking vessel, and the liquor can be poured from a small hole on the top," said Zheng Lichao, head of the institute.

"We are now continuing the carbon and nitrogen isotopes analysis and other research into the liquid, to obtain more information about its raw materials, manufacturing process and functions," said Yang Yimin, professor with the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Archaeologists found the pot in an ancient tomb complex of Houchuan Village in Sanmenxia, which, judging by its shape, was built in the early Western Han Dynasty.

The owner of the tomb is a male about 1.8 meters tall. Due to the poor preservation of human bones, his age and cause of death remain unknown. Besides the bronze pot, bronzeware, jade, pottery and ironware were also unearthed from the tomb.

Located between Xi'an and Luoyang, two ancient Chinese capitals, Sanmenxia used to serve as a military and traffic artery. As a result, the city is rich in historical relics. 

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