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Snails led to some of the world's oldest pottery inventions
January 6, 2004, Discovery
A taste for freshwater snails may have resulted in the invention of some of the world's oldest pottery, a team of Chinese archaeologists announced recently.
The archaeologists, who gathered late last month at a forum in Guilin, southeast China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, believe China's earliest pottery was used to cook snails, which are hard to eat raw. The pottery dates to the early part of China's Neolithic period, from 12,000 to 7,000 years ago.
According to the Xinhuanet news service, found at Guilin's Zengpiyan Cave were over 10,000 pieces of pottery, along with 30 human corpses; 1,000 pieces of polished and pierced stones and boneware; remains of 110 species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles; and numerous snail shells.
Researchers studying the cave and its objects suggest the Guilin site was a prehistoric paradise because it had all of the features desired by people then. The cave faced the sun, was located near rivers, and provided good shelter from the wind.
"Zengpiyan Cave represents the aboriginal culture of Guilin, and the excavations there have helped frame the chronology of the prehistoric culture of Guangzi," said Fu Xianguo, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who has directed excavations of the cave. "Relics found at the site prove that the prehistoric inhabitants engaged in fishing, hunting, and food collecting, as natural resources were abundant at that time."
Fu said the cave men and women, who on average were 5'1" - 5'4" in height, mostly subsisted on plant roots similar to potatoes and taro, as well as snails.
"Freshwater snails were one of their staple foods, judging by the quantities of snail shells found in various strata," explained Fu. "Our experiments show it is necessary to heat them before consumption, otherwise it's difficult to release the meat from the shells."
While most foods were consumed raw, meat and fish could have been cooked over open flames. The more delicate snails would have burnt to a crisp when cooked in such a manner, so Fu and colleagues theorize clay would have been shaped into containers to hold the snails over heat for cooking.
Polished bone needles found near the pots and snail shells suggest that the cave dwellers dined in style. Fu explained that the needles were used to extract the snail meat from the shells, not unlike the toothpicks and little forks often used today by fanciers of escargot.
Sarah and Alexander
In the year 2012, Sarah Manning races against time to fulfill a prophecy set in motion by her ancient ancestors, the Guardians of the Seed. Connected to the ancient mystery schools, this epoch adventure, spanning 72 years, and crossing 3 continents, explains the foundations of reality, and the prophecies of time. In essence, the story of "Sarah and Alexander" is the esoteric history of the human race. The protagonist's struggle to pry open her family's dark secrets is also humanity's struggle to uncover its hidden past. This tale, written hard against the backbone of history, is awash with mythic overtones and replete with revelations of mystical realities. Journey with Sarah to unlock many of your own truths. The screenplay adaption of the book, titled "2012, The Alchemy of Time" is waiting to be discovered by the right producer.
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