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Two Types of Brewing Detected in China’s Neolithic Pottery

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

STANFORD, CALIFORNIA—New Scientist reports that Li Liu of Stanford University and an international team of researchers found evidence of fermented starch granules on pottery sherds uncovered at two early farming sites located about 185 miles apart in north China. The pottery fragments ranged in age from 8,000 to 7,000 years old, and came from vessels that had small mouths, thin necks, and wide sides that blocked fresh air and promoted the brewing process. At the site of Lingkou, Liu said, the early farmers began the fermentation process by allowing grains to sprout, which freed up their natural sugars for fermentation. Meanwhile, at the site of Guantaoyuan, fungi, herbs, and grains were added to cereals as a “fermentation starter” known as qū. The researchers suggest the production of alcoholic beverages may have been linked to social and religious activities, thus fueling the development of agriculture. For more, go to “A Prehistoric Cocktail Party.”

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