Fermented beverages of pre- and proto-historic China

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 21;101(51):17593-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0407921102. Epub 2004 Dec 8.


Chemical analyses of ancient organics absorbed into pottery jars from the early Neolithic village of Jiahu in Henan province in China have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit (hawthorn fruit and/or grape) was being produced as early as the seventh millennium before Christ (B.C.). This prehistoric drink paved the way for unique cereal beverages of the proto-historic second millennium B.C., remarkably preserved as liquids inside sealed bronze vessels of the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties. These findings provide direct evidence for fermented beverages in ancient Chinese culture, which were of considerable social, religious, and medical significance, and help elucidate their earliest descriptions in the Shang Dynasty oracle inscriptions.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Archaeology
  • Beverages / analysis*
  • Beverages / history*
  • China
  • Fermentation
  • Fruit / history
  • History, Ancient
  • Honey / history
  • Oryza / history
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Wine / analysis
  • Wine / history