Remains of 5,000-yr-old alcohol, silk found in central China

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Chinese archaeologists have discovered remains of ancient alcohol and silk dating back more than 5,000 years, during the fourth excavation of the Yangshao Village site in central China's Henan province.

Working with institutions at home and abroad, including Stanford University and the China National Silk Museum, archaeologists detected silk protein residues in soil samples of human bone at the Yangshao Village site and found liquors made from fermented grain in a sharp-bottomed bottle dating back to the middle and late periods of the Yangshao Culture.

Li Shiwei, in charge of the excavation site, said the finding of ancient alcohol provided direct evidence for the brewing and consumption of grain alcohol in the core distribution area of the Yangshao Culture.

According to Liu Haiwang, head of the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology, a number of residual silks found in recent years suggested that ancestors in the middle reaches of the Yellow River raised silkworms and produced silk more than 5,000 years ago.

Also unearthed for the first time were several jade artifacts, including a jade tomahawk, a symbol of military power.

In 1921, the first excavation on the Yangshao Village site, which is in Mianchi County, Henan Province, marked the birth of Chinese archaeology. The name of China's first-known archaeological culture, the Yangshao Culture, was also derived from the site.

In 1951 and 1980, China launched the second and third excavation of the ruins.

Originating around the middle reaches of the Yellow River, the Yangshao Culture is considered an important stream of Chinese civilization, and is widely known for its advanced pottery-making technology.

The fourth archaeological excavation of the Yangshao Village site began on Aug. 22, 2020, and is still in progress.

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