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Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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CHINA

May/June 2019

World Roundup China 2CHINA: A wealthy individual living 2,000 years ago in Henan Province was buried with an assortment of fine bronze, jade, and ceramic objects. Amid this trove was a jar containing a yellow liquid, which chemical analysis has revealed to be a mixture of potassium nitrate and alunite—and not rice wine as first thought. The minerals are the main ingredients of the legendary “elixir of immortality” mentioned in ancient Chinese texts. This potion was said to bring eternal life to whoever drank it, though, at least in this case, it doesn’t appear to have succeeded.

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