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Food excavated from China’s ancient tombs

(People's Daily Online)    13:44, April 15, 2019

Lotus root soup, noodles, jiaozi (Chinese dumplings), eggs, kebabs and desserts - besides conventional relics such as ancient pottery, ceramics, weapons, books, and clothes, archaeologists have also found various food items in ancient tombs excavated across China, Science and Technology Daily reported on April 12.

Eggs excavated in an ancient tomb in Liyang. (Photo/

In Liyang City, east China’s Jiangsu Province, archaeologists recently found a pot full of eggs in an ancient tomb from China’s Spring and Autumn Period (770 B.C.-476 B.C.). To everyone’s surprise, only one of the thousand-year-old eggs had cracked.

In 2002, an archaeological team led by Ye Maolin, a researcher with the Institute of Archaeology of China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), discovered noodles at one excavation site, estimated to be over 4,000 years old. The noodles were found in a red pottery bowl at Lajia heritage site, a large scale settlement of the Neolithic Age in Lajia Village, Guanting Town, Minhe Hui and Tu Autonomous County, Haidong City of northwest China’s Qinghai Province.

The noodles found in Lajia Village in Qinghai province. (Photo/Xining Evening News)

The noodles, found on the floor of the site which was once a house, about 2 meters below ground, were later proven to be made from rice. As animal bone residue was also found in the bowl, experts guessed it had been a bowl of meat noodles.

In the 1970s, lotus root soup was found in the Mawangdui Tombs of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, alongside more than 3,000 valuable cultural relics.

The soup was in a lacquerware pot with a lid, and when it was passed to excavators outside the tomb, the pieces of lotus root started to dissolve and quickly disappeared into the soup. Luckily, a photographer captured the picture with his camera before the lotus root dissolved entirely.

These are just some examples of food found in ancient tombs in China. Bone broth, Nang, a kind of pancake, sun-dried fish, and beef stew have all been found in recent years.

“What’s more important than these excavated food items is that we can get information about the people who cooked this food. We need to dig out the cultural characteristics and stories through interdisciplinary research”, said Zhao Zhijun, a researcher with the Institute of Archaeology of CASS.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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