November/December 2021

ND21 ATW China REVISEDCHINA: Microfossil residue analysis of ceramic cups found in a 9,000-year-old burial mound at Qiaotou indicates that the dead were sometimes commemorated through ritual beer-drinking ceremonies. This is the earliest evidence of such activity. The cups, which are also the oldest examples of painted pottery in the world, were found to have once contained an alcoholic concoction made from rice, a grain called Job’s tears, and unknown tubers. The sophisticated fermentation process was aided by the inclusion of a specialized mold starter.