November 21, 2010

The 2,500-year-old bowl of noodles.

Cold now, but awesome.


edutcher said...

What, no Saran Wrap?

EDH said...

Bid deal, I have a pack of Ramen noodles left over from college in the 1980s.

Megaera said...

Wait -- I thought it was just American junk food like Twinkies and Big Macs that could never decay on the shelf ... isn't that what the Green Truth Tellers keep telling us? How could this happen with healthy organic food from the Mystic East?

ironrailsironweights said...

So that's what happened to my takeout order.


Quaestor said...

Carl Reiner: Sir, is it true that you're a 2500 year old bowl of noodles?

Mel Brooks: ...oooh boy-r-dee....

Jason (the commenter) said...

So noodles and even moon cakes are non-Chinese! I bet this story wont be widely reported in the Chinese press.

The Crack Emcee said...

Eat it now!

That would be The Macho Response.

Cedarford said...

Jason (the commenter) said...
So noodles and even moon cakes are non-Chinese! I bet this story wont be widely reported in the Chinese press.

Not really. It means that mobile Caucasion traders in proximity to then-China had many Chinese and non-Chinese things in their artifacts. That it is likelier they got the noodles from cultural diffusion.
Then again, the current Master Race, the Han Chinese are taking lots of hits from science without taking their noodles away.
Looks like whites created the Silk Road, not the Zipperheads. Chinese did not invent the wheel or horse harnasses or actually domesticate a couple dozen fruits and crops they claim started in CHina.
No, modern humanity didn't evolve in China, sorry old Han theorists. That happened on the Steppes as man evolved into a proto race past the old black variant of humanity, then that protorace further differentiated into the white and Asian races.
And the really interesting place in chasing DNA lines is not China but India.

Then again, Globalism and "Free Trade for Freedom Lovers" has made America into China's bitches. Helped keep old school communist despotism in power as long as the despots allow a "free market" - and shown Central Command Chinese economic nationalism cleaned the floor with America's current competative model..

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I've got stuff like that in my regrigerator.

Chip Ahoy said...

That sure was interesting. Millet, they say, I was expecting rice. The article does say 2500 years ago, not 2500BCE. I have no reason to doubt Chinese were first to make noodles, so yes, for that they must be enthusiastically acknowledged and thanked, but I do doubt Chinese were first to bake bread in an oven. Loaves and cakes appeared in Predynastic North African writing 31000BCE. Text describe ovens for bread, kilns for ceramics, furnaces for smelting metals.

Also, since China was so brilliant so early, what is taking this long to catch up? Why must so much that is new be stolen or have it given? When can we expect innovation again? How long until contributions to the advancement of all humanity is seen? This we-were-first-at-everything bullshit does not excuse today's akwardness.

While I'm on it, East VS. West, who was earliest, who was best, there is another nit I'd like to pick, if you'll indulge me for a moment. I now skip over anything I read that starts out how brilliant were the native Central Americans at building, and astrology, writing, and maths when compared to contemporary Europeans who were sunk in the dark ages. I've crawled all over those pyramids and temples and observatories and I can tell you, impressive as they are, they are heaps of stone compared to the roofed cathedrals with amazingly thin walls and advanced artistic stonework and even stained-glass windows built by Europeans during the so-called dark and Middle Ages.

madAsHell said...

I've been to Xi'an, and seen the terra cotta soldiers. I met the farmer that found the terra cotta soldiers. He signed my guide book.

I left Xi'an thinking of Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny.

....and now we have 2500 year old noodles in a bowl, and comments about how the Chinese were very clever bakers.

They are inventing history.

Penny said...

"They are inventing history."

If you read the comments to that article, apparently what they are doing is called "archeological nationalism".

Some believe that if something is found in their country, it becomes part of their history and cultural heritage. Of course the ancestors of those who forged the new paths might get quite upset with this practice.

The comments, however, were dealing with how archeological discoveries are being handled poorly by the media when they refer to "Chinese Noodles" Many consider that a form of politicizing archeology which is a serious science.

ricpic said...

"The individuals may have been living in...a pastoral artist's community..."

Pastoral artists, huh? Yeah, that's right, one day they're working on their raku technique, the next day they're riding out to meet Ghengis Khan's raiders in a high plains battle to the death. Jeeze.

ricpic said...

Confucius say: no make waves.

The result being that the Chinese, bright as they are, have been innovation shy throughout their history.

Quaestor said...


Mayan temple vs. Gothic cathedral is a bit of an apples to oranges comparison, you must admit. The Maya at their height possessed a technology comparable to Early Bronze Age in the eastern Mediterranean. They did have some metal artifacts, but these were mostly confined to ceremonial items, axes primarily used a symbols of authority (it's remarkable how closely pre-Columbian resemble European bronze artifacts from 2000 BCE) Otherwise most Mayan tools were stone. Try shaping a rock by pounding it with another rock.

Among other advantages the masons of the 12th century enjoyed over the Mayans were geometry and geology. Though they had a powerful and accurate celestial calendar and a system of numerals superior to the Roman system* commonly used in Medieval Europe the Mayans had no Euclid, nor did they have huge deposits of fine-grained white limestone. The Mayans used metamorphic limestone which has a course grain and is veined with weaker material. metamorphic limestone cuts into nice blocks, but it is too brittle for stressed beams. It's highly unlikely the Maya could have built a flying buttress even if they had had the tools and the geometry.

Finally, the builds of Europe's cathedrals and the Mayan architects had different goals and motivations. The cathedrals builders were trying to improve the basilica form which they had inherited from the Romans by building them higher and with much larger windows. The Romanesque churches of the Carolingian age were a start, but the masons of that time were hampered by a conceptual problem, specifically the idea that the walls of a building defined its boundaries. When the masons of the 12th century realized that the structural features of a building need not be entirely contained within the walls their imaginations were freed to soar. The purpose of all that height and light was to capture a bit of Heaven and contain it on Earth. Commercial exploitation and civic pride also had a lot to do with it.

The Maya evidently inherited a lot of their architectural tradition from the builders of Teotihuacan, whoever they were. Apparently their pyramids were elaborations on the concept of the raised altar -- the more exalted the god the higher the altar needed to celebrate his rites (Mayan kings also used the pyramids as memorials to their deeds) Since Mayan sacrifice was practiced outdoors on as high a platform as was available (the better to be near the sky-dwelling gods whom they sought to propitiate) the idea of performing those rituals under a roof -- out of sight of the gods -- was absurd. There's no evidence that the various Mayan city states competed with each other architecturally, as occurred in contemporary Medieval Europe, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that such contests happened from time to time.

* Regarding Roman numeral and the Gothic achievement I'm always mystified that Medieval masons were able to build such sophisticated structures without a simple and reliable method of calculation. It has been theorized that one of the secrets of the trade, jealously guarded by the various lodges, was recent import from the East via the Crusaders -- arabic numerals and a place value system of notation.

Aurelian said...

The Discovery Article also had a link to the stupendous discovery that the lost army of the Persian King Cambyses II was found near Siwa in Egypt. Herodotus wrote about this very army. A 50,000 swallowed in a sandstorm. True history geek stuff!

ricpic said...

Didn't some of the cathedrals collapse? In other words the masons - though they had a terrific experience garnered sense of their materials, of what could and could not be done, in a manner similar to the way a good cook "knows" how to put together a great dish - didn't have a method of calculating stress. Nevertheless, what they did build just goes to show how much can be accomplished without science. Or with art. Take your pick.

Quaestor said...

Yes, some did fall. But fewer than one would expect if it was "rule of thumb."

Unstable ground was probably more responsible for failed cathedrals than poorly designed buttresses. Cathedrals were build in market towns. Market towns were often build on river banks for easy access to transport. River banks are often composed of alluvial deposits. Alluvial soil is often unstable, etc. The Parisians built their cathedral on an island of solid rock, mainly because that was the defensible center of the city. The happy accident is Notra Dame, as solid now as ever.

Jason (the commenter) said...

madAsHell: They are inventing history.

We know from Chinese history that the Chinese manipulate history for political gain, usually to legitimize the ruling dynasty. This discovery is not part of that movement because Caucasians were found with the artifacts. If anything, it flies in the face of Chinese nationalism.

I've been to Xi'an, and seen the terra cotta soldiers. I met the farmer that found the terra cotta soldiers. He signed my guide book.

I left Xi'an thinking of Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny.

The guy signing autographs is pissed because he found the equivalent of King Tut's tomb combined with Troy and all he got out of it was a deal to sign autographs.

You have to remember that Confucius lived around 500 BC, and he was obsessed with how people lived in the past. It's part of their culture and there's huge amounts of information to back it up, even with all the purges that have happened throughout their history. The Xi'an tomb you are talking about was itself written about thousands of years ago. And you can practically dig a hole anywhere and find an ancient artifact.

It just sounds strange because most of the world is ignorant of their history.

Allison said...

Okay, ignoring the reasons to disbelieve the Chinese, the archaeologists, and the reporter got any of the details right,

how does someone decide to invent NOODLES????

To me, this is more of an innovative leap that the internet or the transistor.

Wine, beer--that makes sense. You store liquid, and you forget about it, and later you go back and WOW! this stuff is even better for having been forgotten about. Heating food over fire making you think about ovens, okay.

But noodles????

madAsHell said...

Jason.....I've been have the advantage.

Xi'an is a lie. It is a tourist trap. I doubt the authenticity of the terra cotta soldiers.

My 12 year old nephew pointed this out. I was dumbfounded.

Quaestor said...


Never mind noodle. What about bird's nest soup? Now there's a culinary idea from out of the blue. Imagine climbing up a sheer cliff in order to prise off a swift's nest off the rock face -- a nest made out of bird spit, mind you -- and then eating it!? Who thought of that? Was it some lunatic who ate everything smaller than his head?

jim allen said...

Yup I think that the noodles will be dried and stale but guys who love it will surely have no matter how it tastes...
Rosie Allen

Penny said...

"how does someone decide to invent NOODLES????"

Well?...Um... We can only... guess.

How wonderful, though, that someone already decided to invent the bowl to put them in!

Clyde said...

"... And 2500 years later, you're hungry again!"

Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week.