Oldest noodles unearthed in China





The remains of the world's oldest noodles have been unearthed in China. The 50cm-long, yellow strands were found in a pot that had probably been buried during a catastrophic flood. Radiocarbon dating of the material taken from the Lajia archaeological site on the Yellow River indicates the food was about 4,000 years old. The discovery goes a long way to settling the old argument over who first created the string-like food.

Scientists tell the journal Nature that the noodles were made using grains from millet grass - unlike modern noodles, which are made with wheat flour.

Professor Houyuan Lu said: "Prior to the discovery of noodles at Lajia, the earliest written record of noodles is traced to a book written during the East Han Dynasty sometime between AD 25 and 220, although it remained a subject of debate whether the Chinese, the Italians, or the Arabs invented it first.

The professor's team tells Nature that the ancient settlement at Lajia was hit by a sudden catastrophe.

Among the remains are skeletons thrown into various abnormal postures, suggesting the inhabitants may have been trying to flee the disaster that was enveloping them.

"Based on the geological and archaeological evidence, there was a catastrophic earthquake and immediately following the quake, the site was subject to flooding by the river," explained co-author Professor Kam-biu Liu, from Louisiana State University, US.

"Lajia is a very interesting site; in a way, it is the Pompeii of China."

It was in amongst the human wreckage that scientists found an upturned earthenware bowl filled with brownish-yellow, fine clay.

When they lifted the inverted container, the noodles were found sitting proud on the cone of sediment left behind.


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