According to a statement released by Dartmouth College, evidence of a fermented beverage has been found in residues from drinking vessels unearthed at a 9,000-year-old burial site at Qiaotou, which is located in southern China’s Yangtze River Valley.
The burial contained the skeletons of two people whose remains had been placed in a platform mound surrounded by a ditch. Pits in the mound contained numerous pots of varying sizes painted with white slip in abstract designs. Many of them were still intact. Researcher Jiajing Wang said the analysis detected starch granules, fossilized plant matter, mold, and yeast consistent with a sweet, cloudy beverage brewed from rice, a grain known as Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), and unidentified tubers.
Rice was in the early stages of domestication at the time, she added, so the labor-intensive drink may have served a ritual purpose, perhaps related to the burial of the dead.