13 October 2005

Neolithic noodles

Slurping first: China invented noodles
A decades-long wrangle as to which culture gave birth to the noodle has finally been settled - the winner is China.

Italians, through the explorer Marco Polo, and Arabs had been the other claimants to a culinary staple that has been around for at least 2,000 years.

But a team of archaeologists, reporting in the British journal Nature, say there is now incontrovertible proof that China was faster to the pasta.

They discovered 4,000-year-old long, boiled strands of noodles protected by an upside-down bowl, embedded in a fine, brownish-yellow clay on a terrace of the Yellow River at Lajia, north-western China.

The site, on a flood plain whose sediments are three metres thick, has been under careful excavation since 1999.

The age of the find comes from carbon dating of the sediments in its lay.

The Neolithic noodles show no trace of the durum wheat, bread wheat or barley that usually make up today's pasta.

Instead, they are made from millet, one of the first grass plants to be farmed in the semi-arid plateau of north-western China.

I don't actually think this is incontrovertible proof at all. Noodles do not have to get invented only once and all this proves is the antiquity of noodles in East Asia. It tells us nothing about the great question of whther noodles were diffused or infused in other regions.


unique_stephen said...

I don't think that this is conclusive either way, all it shows is that the Flying Spaghetti Monster lost one of his noodly appendages here. Probably when he appeared before an ancient apostle.

Alan said...

Ramen to that, brother.