Neolithic noodles found in Qinghai, China

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Chinese archaeologists at the Lajia Ruins in the Qinghai province of China have discovered well-preserved millet noodles dating back to the neolithic age. The 4,000-year-old noodles were found underneath an upturned bowl that had been buried in three meters of sediment, consisting of brownish-yellow clay. The sediment is thought to have been caused by a devastating flood of the upper Mekong.

This discovery significantly reframes the debate over which people first made noodles, establishing Chinese culture—at least for now—as the most likely candidate for having originally developed the idea of making noodles. Previously, Italian, Chinese, and Arab cultures have all been claimed as the originator of noodles. Prior to this discovery, the oldest record of noodles existing in China were from 1900-year-old recipes.

The Lajia Ruins are of a central Qijia settlement, which has been the site of other significant discoveries, such as the largest stone chime ever found in China, and the largest and most intact prehistoric oven found in Northwestern China. The site has also been significant to researchers studying the impact of natural disasters on ancient civilizations—it was the site of a cataclysmic flood, and at least one major earthquake.