ASL director Li Liu, member Yahui He, and Jingbo Li presented their research in the symposium: Drinking Beer In A Blissful Mood: A Global Archaeology of Beer, organized by Dr. Marie Hopwood.
ASL member Matthew Chastain presented poster: Petrographic Analysis of CPAS Ceramics: Long-Term Continuity and Change in Chengdu Plain Pottery Production; alumni Jiajing Wang presented: An Intimate Bond: New Evidence for Human-Pig Relationships in Chinese Diaspora Communities with colleague Laura Ng; Andrew Womack presented: New Insights into Bronze Age Ceramic Production in Northwestern China: Petrographic Analysis of Qijia and Shajing Materials from the Andersson Collections; and Maureece Levin organized panel: Pedagogy in the Undergraduate Archaeology Classroom.
lServing Alcoholic Beverages to the Ancestors in Neolithic China
China has a long history of alcoholic production and consumption, and the earliest evidence of fermented beverages has been recovered from pottery vessels about 9,000 years ago. Many drinking vessels have been found in mortuary contexts, suggesting that alcohol was closely related to ancestral worship ritual. In this talk I will discuss the origin, development, and variation of mortuary ritual associated with alcoholic consumption, as well as the social implications of such practice in Neolithic China.
Symbiotic Relationship between People, Plants, and Microbes:
A Case Study on the Fermented Beverages from the Chahekou Site in North China during the Middle Neolithic Period
The making of fermented beverages is a complex process through the interaction among people, plants, and microorganisms, among other abiotic factors. In this process, microbes, as the primary catalyst, get all the agents gradually entangled in the fermentation process. During the middle Neolithic, there was an evident population movement from the Central Plains to the north region of China in today’s Inner Mongolia. Previous archaeological studies have revealed the similarities between the ceramic utensils in north China and their counterparts in the Central Plains. Nevertheless, our recent microfossil analysis has also examined a northward spread of fermented beverage technology along with plant food exploitation, which helps form a symbiotic relationship between people, plants, and microbes in food and drink practices.
Alcohol, Rituals, and Spirits at the Late Shang Center: Residue Analysis of Ceramic Vessels in Anyang
In the Bronze Age of China, alcohol practice was an integral part of rituals and the spiritual world as a social agent in hierarchical societies. Multiple types of alcoholic beverages appeared in the earliest writings of the late Shang dynasty some 3,200 years ago. However, little research has been done to characterize how alcoholic beverages were brewed in the Bronze Age and the true use of relevant vessels through scientific analysis. In this study, we analyzed microfossil remains on ceramic vessels unearthed from Yinxu in Anyang, the last capital of the Shang dynasty (1600–1046 BC). Based on the residue analysis, the main fermentation ingredients include millet, rice, Triticeae, tubers, and probably job’s tears and beans. Qu starters were used for saccharification and alcohol fermentation. The results provide direct evidence of the production and consumption of alcoholic beverages in the late Shang and reveal the functions of multiple types of vessels, such as weng vats used for fermentation. The ritual beverages demonstrate that alcohol played key roles in sacrifice, spirits, and ancestral worship in the royal capital, which might help to legitimize the political power and social organization in the formation of early Chinese civilization.