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CHINA - Prehistory

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Bianca
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« Reply #15 on: February 02, 2009, 03:11:10 pm »









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                  7,400-year-old jar gives clue to phoenix-worshipping history







« on: December 28, 2007, 01:55:09 am » Quote 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



7,400-year-old jar gives clue to phoenix-worshipping history




A 7,400-year-old pottery jar stamped with the design of two flying phoenixes has been excavated recently in central China's Hunan Province, helping archaeologists unveil the secret of the "birth" of the sacred bird. 


The two phoenixes have the typical characteristics of the legendary phoenix, which has a crest on its head, a long beak, a long neck and a long beautiful feathered tail.

The phoenix and the dragon are the most worshipped legendary creatures in China since ancient times.

The discovery showed that ancient Chinese myths relating to phoenixes dated back at least 7,400 years, said He Gang, head of the Hunan provincial archaeological research institute.

He headed the excavations at the Gaomiao Culture Ruins, covering 15,000 square meters, a Neolithic age site near Yanli Village of Chatou Township, Hongjiang City, unearthing a great deal of relic items that relate to religious rituals. in Yanli Village.

"I couldn't believe that the jar was made by ancients 7,400 years ago if I hadn't taken it myself," said He. "It's proof that there were special artisans, artists, at that time."

"The designs of the phoenix on the jar are far more delicate than of two similar birds on an ivory dish, unearthed several years ago from a site of the Hemudu Culture, dating back 4,000 to 7,000 years ago, in Yuyao County, east China's Zhejiang Province."

The phoenix is an imaginary bird, a creature resulting from primitives' piety, adoration and worship of gods, He said.

Chinese people have endowed the phoenix with many fine characteristics: beautiful, auspicious, kind, peaceful, and boasting lofty natural virtues. "Although the phoenix doesn't livein reality, it's in the heart of the Chinese people," He said.

"However, the phoenix was not created out of pure imagination,"said He. "Phoenix designs unearthed from the Gaomiao Culture ruinsshow that the original shape owed a lot to the peacock."

Discovery of the phoenix designs also provided important evidence that prove the Yangtze River valley was a major cradle ofChinese civilization, He said.

Moreover, discoveries of religious and sacrificial items at thesite provide material for studying the religious awareness, beliefand art of the prehistoric people, he said.



Source: Xinhua


http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200403/26/eng20040326_138617.shtml
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« Reply #16 on: February 02, 2009, 03:53:20 pm »









Delicate toe bones seen above from a 40,000-year-old human are
indicative of habitual shoe-wearing, according to a study in the
July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The finding suggests humans were wearing footwear 10,000 years
earlier than previously believed.

Photograph courtesy Hong Shang
of the Washington University in St. Louis
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2009, 03:55:16 pm »









                               Humans Wore Shoes 40,000 Years Ago, Fossil Suggests






Scott Norris
for National Geographic News
July 1, 2008

Humans were wearing shoes at least 10,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to a new study.

The evidence comes from a 40,000-year-old human fossil with delicate toe bones indicative of habitual shoe-wearing, experts say.

A previous study of anatomical changes in toe bone structure had dated the use of shoes to about 30,000 years ago.

Now the dainty-toed fossil from China suggests that at least some humans were sporting protective footwear 10,000 years further back, during a time when both modern humans and Neandertals occupied portions of Europe and Asia.

(Related: Atlas of the Human Journey)

Study author Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, said the scarcity of toe bone fossils makes it hard to determine when habitual shoe-wearing became widespread.

However, he noted, even Neandertals may have been strapping on sandals.

"Earlier humans, including Neanderthals, show [some] evidence of occasionally wearing shoes," Trinkaus said.

Regular shoe use may have become common by 40,000 years ago, but "we still have no [additional] evidence from that time period—one way or the other," the scientist said.

The study by Trinkaus and Chinese co-author Hong Shang appears in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
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« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2009, 03:57:17 pm »











Tale of the Toes



In a previous study, Trinkaus found that shoe-wearing and barefoot human groups show characteristic differences in the size and strength of their middle toe bones.

Consistent shoe use results in a more delicate bone structure, because footwear reduces the force
on middle toes during walking.

In his latest study, this anatomical evidence allowed Trinkaus to date the origin of shoes to a period long before the oldest known shoe remains.

Elizabeth Semmelhack curates the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada. She said given what we
know about the effects of shoe-wearing, Trinkaus' approach makes perfect sense.

"The simple act of wearing shoes alters the structure of our feet," Semmelhack said.

"It's interesting that [trinkaus] is looking at these prehistoric remains and coming to the same conclusions."
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« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2009, 04:01:38 pm »







Function vs. Fashion



The first forms of protective footwear probably evolved from simple wrappings used to insulate the feet from snow and freezing temperatures, experts say.

The oldest preserved shoe remains, dating to roughly 10,000 years ago from the western United States, are simple sandals woven of plant fibers.

But at some point shoes stopped being mere protection and become a fashion item.

Some anthropologists have suggested that even the earliest shoes may have served a more symbolic than protective function.

Beads found around the ankles and feet of human skeletons dated to 27,000 years ago suggest the presence of decorated footwear, Trinkaus said.

"History is replete with examples of impractical, irrational shoes," noted shoe museum curator Semmelhack.

"The actual first shoes may have been created out of necessity. But elements of irrationality probably crept in very early on," she said.

"Even these ancient people were probably trying to express something."
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« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2009, 04:03:02 pm »









FROM AN EARLIER ARTICLE IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC:





                                    Toe Bones Reveal World's Earliest Shoe-Wearers





John Pickrell in London
for National Geographic News
October 24, 2005

A new analysis of toe bones suggests that ancient people from Europe and the Middle East were the first to adopt supportive footwear—most likely primitive sandals—around 30,000 years ago.

Before that time, most humans went barefoot—regardless of their environment.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, found that humans at the end of the Old Stone Age had weaker small-toe bones than their ancestors but no corresponding loss of leg strength.

The finding suggests that the ancient humans were using footwear for support for the first time in history.

Humans from the far north are thought to have begun insulating their feet from the snow around 50,000 years ago.

However, the coverings provided no support, and no similar footwear is known from Europe or the Middle East during the same period.

Rapidly Degradable

Pinpointing the origin of shoes has been a difficult task, because footwear made of leather or plant materials degrades rapidly.

Currently the oldest surviving shoes are mostly complete sandals from California that date to 9,000 years ago. Other evidence comes from fossilized footprints.

Eric Trinkaus, a physical anthropologist at Washington University, tried a different approach and decided to look for changes in human foot anatomy between 10,000 and 100,000 years ago.

"The [best] evidence for earliest forms of foot protection is likely to be indirect," Trinkaus said.

He has shown that modern Alaskan Inuits, who sport sealskin boots, have less sturdy toes than other ancient Native Americans, who are known to have gone barefoot. 
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« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2009, 04:04:16 pm »












The work suggests that wearing shoes promotes more delicate small toes. When people walk barefoot, the four smaller toes on each foot flex to allow better traction. This promotes growth of sturdy toe bones.

By contrast, sandals, sneakers, and other supportive footwear lessens the load on the four small toes, thus weakening them.

Trinkaus compared the toe anatomy of western Eurasian human skeletons from the Middle and Upper Paleolithic periods (about 100,000 to 40,000 years ago and 40,000 to 10,000 years ago, respectively).

The anatomy of the skeletons' feet began to change around 26,000 to 30,000 years ago, becoming more delicate in later skeletons, the anthropologist found.

"I discovered that the bones of the little toes of humans from that time frame were much less strongly built than those of their ancestors, while their leg bones remained large and strong," Trinkaus said. "The most logical cause would be the introduction of supportive footwear."

"[These] people were routinely using semi-rigid- to rigid-soled shoes, boots, and sandals to protect the foot," he said.

The findings are detailed in a recent edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Support and Skepticism

Mike O'Brien directs the Museum of Anthropology at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

He said it's frustrating that the earliest direct evidence of footwear comes from North America, when "almost assuredly Upper Paleolithic peoples living in Europe and elsewhere were wearing footwear before anyone entered the Americas, 13,000 years ago."

"Looking at the anatomical evidence of footwear is a very novel and interesting approach," he said. "And the evidence strongly suggests that there was a significant increase in the use of footwear between Middle Paleolithic and middle Upper Paleolithic humans."

"Did Upper Paleolithic people always wear shoes? Apparently not always, but certainly routinely," O'Brien said.

Cameron Kippen, a podiatrist and shoe historian with Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia, counters that "the idea that shoes influenced toe function seems unlikely. But it is an interesting theory."

Kippen argues that shoes have made little genetic impact on foot anatomy in the last 9,000 years. He also notes that majority of the population would still have been barefoot even after shoes were adopted.

"There are still more people unshod today on Earth than wear shoes," he said.

Kippen believes that shoes first appeared as a decorative garment worn by only a few important people in a tribe—perhaps witch doctors and chieftains—on special occasions.
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« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2009, 04:06:46 pm »













                                            Remains of vast Neolithic site found in south China






Tue Jul 22, 2008

 BEIJING, July 22 (Reuters) - Thousands of ancient artifacts and wooden poles more than 3,000 years old have been unearthed in China's southern Yunnan province, possibly the world's largest site of a Neolithic community, local media reported on Tuesday.

The poles, found standing 4.6 metres underground, were used as part of building structures for an ancient community that may have covered an area of 4 square km, the China Daily reported, citing Min Rui, a researcher at Yunnan Archaeological Institute, who is leading the excavation team.

The site could be older than the Hemudu community in Yuyao, in Zhejiang province, which is among the most famous in China and is believed to be the birthplace of society around the Yangtze River.

An area of 1,350 sq m has already been uncovered and excavation is ongoing.

"I was shocked when I first saw the site. I have never seen such a big and orderly one," Yan Wenming, history professor at Peking University, was quoted as saying.

Excavation began in January, but the site was actually discovered five decades ago during the construction of a canal along the banks of the Jianhu Lake, about 500 km northwest of the provincial capital Kunming.

Archaeologists have found more than 3,000 artifacts made of stone, wood, iron, pottery and bone, as well as more than 2,000 of the wooden posts.
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« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2009, 04:12:32 pm »

,
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« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2009, 04:13:58 pm »









So, it might be appropriate that the few human remains found in the cave so far turned out to be teeth as well. "We found another one this year," said Schepartz. "That's number five. This one was found at the deepest level of our excavations, and is probably closer to 300,000 years old."

Another surprise from the 2000 field season was the discovery of several antlers and tusk fragments. The team found both antlers that had been shed and antlers that were still attached to skulls. In later archaeological sites, antler and tusk are fashioned into tools or used to produce tools.


Many other specialists contribute to the Dadong studies. Sarah Stoutamire, an undergraduate student in anthropology at UC, spent her second field season at Dadong in 2000. She is doing a detailed analysis of the many Stegodon teeth found in the cave. Stoutamire hopes to find a pattern in the age of the teeth, information that could explain how the remains of such large animals got into the cave. Her work will help to understand whether the cave residents or large carnivores pursued older, large animals, or if smaller and younger animals were the preferred prey.

Schepartz noted that none of the excavations would have been possible without close collaboration and support from the Chinese government, which even built a lab near the cave for the researchers to use. Local families also help with the excavations.

She is also grateful for the wide-ranging support the team members have received from scientists in other disciplines. Researchers working under Jack Rink at McMaster University in Canada are using electron spin resonance to date the dental remains more precisely. Ruth Shahach-Gross of the Weizman Institute verified the difference in chemistry between burnt and unburnt bone. Lousiana State University Professor Brooks Ellwood is analyzing magnetic differences in sediment samples Schepartz and Stoutamire collected. He is looking for evidence of climate change over time.

"We have people from all over the world working on the project," said Schepartz. "To run a project like this, you have to bring in people in all kinds of disciplines. I'm fortunate that I've found people who have an interest in archaeological science."

The conference summarizing the various research findings is an outgrowth of three years of Panxian Dadong research supported by the Henry Luce Foundation. It is also receiving support from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research and the East-West Center.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Adapted from materials provided by University Of Cincinnati.
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 MLA University Of Cincinnati (2001, March 14). Tale Of The Teeth: Archaeologists Find Unusual Bone Collection In Chinese Cave. ScienceDaily.

Retrieved October 26, 2008, from



http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2001/03/010313073727.htm
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« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2009, 04:19:17 pm »



HOMO ERECTUS

Wikimedia







                                     First humans arrived in China 1.7 million years ago






Earth & Sky Radio Series
Deborah Byrd,
Joel Block,
Lindsay Patterson and
Oct. 26, 2008

Scientists have evidence that early humans arrived in China from Africa about 1.7 million years ago.

EarthSky spoke to Rick Potts, a paleoanthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution. Potts said that a few stone tools and two front teeth belonging to Homo erectus were found near a stream in Southwest China. These were found decades ago, but never precisely dated. Just recently, Rick Potts and his colleagues were able to date them back to 1.7 million years. Their dating technique used shifts in magnetic poles to date the magnetic particles in the rocks around the artifacts.

Scientists want to know when humans began to move out of Africa. And how did they survive, how adaptable were they? Dating these artifacts tells us that humans were very adaptable to climate and environment. The oldest human remains found outside Africa are one and three-quarter million years old. People are considered to have moved fairly rapidly.

We’ll never know exactly why they wanted to move, but Potts speculated that maybe they just wanted to see what was beyond the next hillside or valley – human curiosity.




Our thanks to:


Rick Potts

Natural History Museum
Director, Human Origins program
Smithsonian Institution
Washington, D.C.



Written by EarthSkyCommunicationsInc



FOR PREVIOUS DISCOVERIES SEE BELOW:
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« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2009, 04:20:40 pm »










                                        Early Humans In China One Million Years Ago






ScienceDaily 
(Aug. 2, 2007) —

Chronology and adaptability of early humans in different paleoclimatic and paleoenvironmental settings are important topics in the study of human evolution.

China houses several early-human (Paleolithic) archaeological sites along the Nihewan Basin near Mongolia, some with artifacts that date back about 1 million years ago. Deng et al. analyze one specific locality in the Nihewan Basin, called the Feiliang Paleolithic Site, where several stone artifacts and mammalian bone fragments have been found buried in basin silts.

By analyzing remnant magnetizations of basin silt layers and comparing these data with charts of known magnetic reversals, the authors identify that the artifact layer was deposited about 1.2 million years ago, just prior to a major climate transition that occurred during the mid-Pleistocene. The transition brought increased climate variability to the region.

This finding, coupled with other studies, indicates a prominent early human presence in the high northern latitudes of East Asia. The authors indicate that further studies on the artifacts themselves could reveal the manner in which humans weathered these climate shifts.

Title: Magnetochronology of the Feiliang Paleolithic site in the Nihewan Basin and implications for early human adaptability to high northern latitudes in East Asia

Authors: Chenglong Deng, Caicai Liu, Hong Ao, Yongxin Pan and Rixiang Zhu: Paleomagnetism and Geochronology Laboratory, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China;

Fei Xie: Hebei Province Institute of Cultural Relics, Shijiazhuang, China.

Source: Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) paper 10.1029/2007GL030335, 2007


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2009, 04:21:50 pm »










          Out Of Africa: Scientists Find Earliest Evidence Yet Of Human Presence In Northeast Asia







ScienceDaily
(Oct. 1, 2004) —
Arlington, Va. --

Early humans lived in northern China about 1.66 million years ago, according to research reported in the journal Nature this week. The finding suggests humans—characterized by their making and use of stone tools—inhabited upper Asia almost 340,000 years before previous estimates placed them there, surviving in a pretty hostile environment.

The research team, including Richard Potts of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, reports the results of excavating four layers of sediments at Majuangou in north China. All the layers contained indisputable stone tools apparently made by early humans, known to researchers as “hominins.”

The top layer, located about 145-148 feet deep in the Earth’s soil, contains the oldest known record of hominin stone tools, dating back to 1.32 million years ago. But the fourth and deepest layer, in which Potts and his team also found stone tools, is about 340,000 years older than that.

According to Potts, “Because the oldest layers show humans made tools and extracted bone marrow like early people in Africa, the Majuangou evidence suggests strong connections with African hominins and their rapid spread across Asia.”

All four sediment layers the researchers examined contained evidence that early humans used stone tools to strike other stones, most likely to fashion chopping and scraping tools. In the three deepest layers, the stone tools are made of rocks unlike those in the surrounding sediment, indicating the Asia humans transported the rocks from another place. It also appears these humans used their tools on bones of deer- and horse-sized mammals, perhaps to butcher them for food.

According to Mark Weiss, physical anthropology program director at the National Science Foundation, which funded the discovery, “This research is helping us gain a picture of the adaptability of humans as they evolved and moved out of the tropics and into other environments.”

The research team used rock-magnetic dating methods to establish the age of the artifacts collected at the Majuangou site and compared them to the soil history of a nearby site that contained a more-complete record of sediment deposits through time. Factoring in other known geological events, such as the natural movement of the Earth’s magnetic poles over time, the scientists pieced together a detailed age sequence for the archeological levels.

These findings suggest that humans reached northeast Asia earlier than scientists had previously thought. Furthermore, the Majuangou site evidence is only slightly older than evidence found at the same latitude in western Eurasia and about the same age as the earliest known human fossils found in southeast Asia. This implies that African human populations came to Asia and spread rapidly to many areas.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2009, 04:23:15 pm »










         Brookhaven Lab Expert Helps Date Flute Thought To Be Oldest Playable Musical Instrument







ScienceDaily
(Oct. 5, 1999) —



                                 Bone flute found in China at 9,000-year-old Neolithic site



Upton, NY - Researchers in China have uncovered what might be the oldest playable musical instrument. Their work is described in a paper published in the September 23 issue of the scientific journal Nature.

Recent excavations at the early Neolithic site of Jiahu, located in Henan province, China, have yielded six complete bone flutes between 7,000 and 9,000 years old. Fragments of approximately 30 other flutes were also discovered. The flutes may be the earliest complete, playable, tightly-dated, multinote musical instruments.

Garman Harbottle, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and member of the Jiahu research team, helped analyze data from carbon-14 dating done in China on materials taken from the site. "Jiahu has the potential to be one of the most significant and exciting early Neolithic sites ever investigated," said Harbottle. "The carbon dating was of crucial importance to my Chinese colleagues in establishing the age of the site and the relics found within it."

The exquisitely-crafted flutes are all made from the ulnae, or wing bones, of the red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis Millen) and have five, six, seven or eight holes. The best-preserved flute has been played and tonally analyzed in tests at the Music School of the Art Institute of China.

The discovery of these flutes presents a remarkable and rare opportunity for anthropologists, musicians and the general public to hear musical sounds as they were produced nine millennia ago. To hear an audio recording of the flute, go to http://www.bnl.gov/bnlweb/flutes.html on the World Wide Web.

The excavations and carbon-14 dating were carried out by researchers from the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Henan Province, Zhengzhou, China; the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Science and Technology of China; and the Paleobotany Laboratory, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China.

Tonal analysis of the flutes revealed that the seven holes correspond to a tone scale remarkably similar to the Western eight-note scale that begins "do, re, mi." This carefully-selected tone scale suggested to the researchers that the Neolithic musician of the seventh millennium BC could play not just single notes, but perhaps even music.

Jiahu lies in the Central Yellow River Valley in mid-Henan Province and was inhabited from 7000 BC to 5700 BC. The site was discovered by Zhu Zhi, late director of the Wuyang County Museum, in 1962, but only in the past 15 years has significant excavation activity begun. In addition to the musical instruments, the site has yielded important information on the early foundations of Chinese society. Music in China is traditionally associated with ritual observances and government affairs.

To date, only about five percent of Jiahu has been excavated, uncovering 45 house foundations, 370 cellars, nine pottery kilns and thousands of artifacts of bone, pottery, stone and other materials. Additional excavation activities are planned for the near future.

The authors of the paper describing the Jiahu findings are Juzhong Zhang, from the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Henan Province, Zhengzhou, China, and the Archaeometry Laboratory at the University of Science and Technology of China; Changsui Wang, also from the Archaeometry Laboratory; Zhaochen Kong, from the Paleobotany Laboratory, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China; and Garman Harbottle from Brookhaven.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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« Reply #29 on: February 02, 2009, 04:25:00 pm »










                           9,000-year History Of Chinese Fermented Beverages Confirmed






ScienceDaily
(Dec. 7, 2004) —
PHILADELPHIA, PA,
December 2004 --



Chemical analyses of ancient organics absorbed, and preserved, in pottery jars from the Neolithic
village of Jiahu, in Henan province, Northern China, have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage
of rice, honey, and fruit was being produced as early as 9,000 years ago, approximately the same
time that barley beer and grape wine were beginning to be made in the Middle East.

In addition, liquids more than 3,000 years old, remarkably preserved inside tightly lidded bronze
vessels, were chemically analyzed. These vessels from the capital city of Anyang and an elite burial
in the Yellow River Basin, dating to the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties (ca. 1250-1000 B.C.), contained specialized rice and millet "wines." The beverages had been flavored with herbs, flowers, and/or tree resins, and are similar to herbal wines described in the Shang dynasty oracle inscriptions.

The new discoveries, made by an international, multi-disciplinary team of researchers including the University of Pennsylvania Museum's archaeochemist Dr. Patrick McGovern of MASCA (Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology), provide the first direct chemical evidence for early fermented beverages in ancient Chinese culture, thus broadening our understanding of the key technological and cultural roles that fermented beverages played in China.

The discoveries and their implications for understanding ancient Chinese culture will be published on-
line the week of December 6, 2004 in the PNAS Early Edition (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences): "Fermented Beverages of Pre-and Proto-historic China," by Patrick E. McGovern, Juzhong Zhang, Jigen Tang, Zhiquing Zhang, Gretchen R. Hall, Robert A. Moreau, Alberto Nuñez, Eric D. Butrym, Michael P. Richards, Chen-shan Wang, Guangsheng Cheng, Zhijun Zhao, and Changsui Wang. Dr. McGovern worked with this team of researchers, associated with the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, the Institute of Archaeology in Beijing, the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology of Henan Province, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Firmenich Corporation, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany), and the Institute of Microbiology
of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The PNAS website address to the article is:



http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0407921101.
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