Vintage Gouda may be aged for five years, some cheddar for a decade. They’re both under-ripe youngsters compared with yellowish clumps – found on the necks and chests of Chinese mummies – now revealed to be the world’s oldest cheese.
The Chinese cheese dates back as early as 1615 BC, making it by far the most ancient ever discovered. Thanks to the quick decay of most dairy products, there isn’t even a runner-up. The world’s best-aged cheese seems to be a lactose-free variety that was quick and convenient to make and may have played a role in the spread of herding and dairying across Asia.
"We not only identified the product as the earliest known cheese, but we also have direct … evidence of ancient technology," Read more.
Urgent conservation work is needed to save a series of caves in northwest China containing ancient murals by Buddhist monks, which are threatened with destruction from the forces of nature.
The network of 236 sandstone caves extend over an area of two to three kilometres in the vast, sparsely-populated autonomous Xinjiang region of China, along the ancient Silk Road. The caves were inhabited by Buddhist monks and used as temples between the third and the eighth centuries, and are lined with murals providing a rich picture of early Buddhist culture.
The caves, known locally as Kezer, are prone to deterioration, particularly from moisture, because of their geological composition, which includes many soluble salts. Read more.
From a few fragments out of a collection of 23-century-old bamboo strips, historians have pieced together what they say is the world’s oldest example of a multiplication table in base 10.
Five years ago, Tsinghua University in Beijing received a donation of nearly 2,500 bamboo strips. Muddy, smelly and teeming with mould, the strips probably originated from the illegal excavation of a tomb, and the donor had purchased them at a Hong Kong market. Researchers at Tsinghua carbon-dated the materials to around 305 bc, during the Warring States period before the unification of China.
Each strip was about 7 to 12 millimetres wide and up to half a metre long, and had a vertical line of ancient Chinese calligraphy painted on it in black ink. Historians realized that the bamboo pieces constituted 65 ancient texts and recognized them to be among the most important artefacts from the period. Read more.
The Great Wall of China, built more than 2,000 years ago, stands as one of the monumental feats of ancient engineering. Stretching thousands of miles, it protected the newly unified country from foreign invaders.
But before the Great Wall, warring Chinese dynasties built many other walls for protection. An American archaeologist recently began surveying one of the biggest.
Gary Feinman, who is with the Field Museum of Chicago, didn’t set out to excavate what he now calls “the first Great Wall.” He was simply walking around eastern China’s Shandong province, staring at the ground like any good archaeologist, looking for tiny pieces of pottery.
But two years ago, he came across an earthen wall. In some places, it was 15 feet high. People knew there had been an early great wall in Shandong, dating to about 500 B.C. — built centuries before the Great Wall. Read more.
A 13,000-square-meter site at the mausoleum of China’s first feudal emperor, which is predicted by archeologists to be a huge underground arsenal, is now under preliminary excavation.
The excavation is expected to be a potentially major archeological discovery that would help the world to learn more about the history of the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC).
According to a Tuesday report by China Central Television (CCTV), stone helmets and armor for both soldiers and horses have been discovered at the mausoleum of Emperor Qin, some 35 kilometers from Xi’an in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province. Read more.
NANCHANG — Archaeologists have excavated a dragon kiln over 1,200 years old in Jingdezhen, once the center of China’s ceramics industry, in the eastern province of Jiangxi.
The Tang Dynasty (618-907) kiln is 78.8 meters long and is the longest ever found from that period, according to Xu Changqing, head of Jiangxi cultural relics and archaeological institute.
The kiln, in the ruins of Nanyao Village, was unearthed by a team from Xiamen, Northwest and Nankai universities and Leping City, between March and November, Xu said at a press conference on Monday. Read more.
The Terracotta Warriors, along with other life-size sculptures built for the First Emperor of China, were inspired by Greek art, new research indicates.
About 8,000 Terracotta Warriors, which are life-size statues of infantryman, cavalry, archers, charioteers and generals, were buried in three pits less than a mile to the northeast of the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor. He unified the country through conquest more than 2,200 years ago. Pits containing sculptures of acrobats, strongmen, dancers and civil servants have also been found near the mausoleum.
Now, new research points to ancient Greek sculpture as the inspiration for the emperor’s afterlife army. Read more.
Beijing — Archaeologists in China’s Shanxi province have discovered a 1,400-year-old temple where a collection of the Buddha statues was once stored.
The shrine, enclosed by walls carved with Buddha niches, is part of the Tongzi temple complex secluded on a mountain near the city of Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi, Xinhua reported Sunday.
According to the researchers with the Institute of Archaeology of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the structure was built in 556 A.D. during the Northern Qi Dynasty (550-557), a booming period for Buddhism. Read more.