Abstract

Humans around the world have shown a remarkable propensity to ferment available sugar sources into alcoholic beverages. These drinks have contributed significantly to cultural innovation and development, including agricultural and horticultural skills to harness natural resources; technologies to produce the beverages and to make special vessels to serve, drink, and present them ceremonially; and their incorporation into feasting and other activities. Molecular archaeological analyses of a range of pottery forms from the site of Liangchengzhen, China, illustrates how contemporaneous chemical data, in conjunction with intensive archaeological and botanical recovery methods, enables the reconstruction of prehistoric beverages and their cultural significance. During the middle Longshan period (ca. 2400-2200 B.C.), a mixed fermented beverage of rice, fruit (probably hawthorn fruit and/or grape), and possibly honey was presented as grave offerings and consumed by the residents of the regional center.

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