Culinary archaeology: Millet noodles in Late Neolithic China

Nature. 2005 Oct 13;437(7061):967-8. doi: 10.1038/437967a.


Noodles have been a popular staple food in many parts of the world for at least 2,000 years, although it is debatable whether the Chinese, the Italians or the Arabs invented them first. Here we analyse a prehistoric sample of noodles contained in a well preserved, sealed earthenware bowl discovered in the Late Neolithic archaeological site of Lajia in northwestern China. We identify millet as the source of the abundant seed-husk phytoliths and starch grains present in the vessel. This shows that the conversion of ground millet flour into dough that could be repeatedly stretched into long, thin strands for the preparation of boiled noodles was already established in this region 4,000 years ago.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / history
  • Archaeology
  • Ceramics
  • China
  • Cooking / history
  • Food / history*
  • History, Ancient
  • Panicum*
  • Time Factors