Wednesday October 17, 2018

Archaeologists discover a 5,000 year-old beer making room in China

The tools that were recovered from the dig site suggest that early brewer were capable of using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

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Beer bottles. Image source: Wikipedia
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Archaeologists in china have unearthed a 5,000 year-old brewery that had “beer-making tool kits” in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. This old beer making room is at a dig site in Central plain of the China. The kits that were found included things like funnels, pots and specialized jugs, their shapes suggest that they were used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It is confirmed that the brewery is the oldest beer making facility ever found in China. The tools that were recovered suggest that early brewer were capable of using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

The scientists have discovered a pottery stove which suggests that ancient brewers must have used it to heat and break down carbohydrates to sugar. For instance the underground location must have been used for both storing beer and controlling temperature.

McGovern who is known as the “Indiana Jones” of ancient fermented beverages said “All indications are that ancient peoples, [including those at this Chinese dig site], applied the same principles and techniques do today.”

This 5,000-year-old funnel for beer-making was unearthed at a dig site in the Central Plain of China. Image source: Jiajing Wang/PNAS
This 5,000-year-old funnel for beer-making was unearthed at a dig site in the Central Plain of China. Image source: Jiajing Wang/PNAS

The research team discovered ancient grains in the pots and jugs which showed evidence that they had been damaged by malting and mashing, two key steps in beer-making. On Monday the “recipe” for the 5000 year old beer was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Broomcorn millet, barley and Job’s tears, a chewy Asian grain also known as Chinese pearl barley was included in the mix of fermented.

At last real question is what did this ancient beer taste like? “It would taste a bit sour and a bit sweet” said the lead researcher Jiajing Wang, an archaeologist from Stanford University.

Most interesting fact about the discovery was the evidence of barley in the beer, as they had never seen barley in china this early before. Now barley is very common in China, nobody understands why and when it made its way there.

Barley. Image source: Wikipedia
Barley. Image source: Wikipedia

“Barley was one of main ingredients for beer brewing in other parts of the world, such as ancient Egypt. It is possible that when barley was introduced from Western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China, it came with the knowledge that the crop was a good ingredient for beer brewing. So it was not only the introduction of a new crop, but also the movement of knowledge associated with the crop” said Wang in her email to The Salt.

McGovern in his email writes that Chinese became early brewmaster. They made barley beer in the same period as “the earliest chemically attested barley beer from Iran” and the “earliest beer-mashing facilities in Egypt,” as well as “the earliest wine-making facility in Armenia.”

Wang and Her co-author suggest that beer brewing and consumption might have helped in shaping hierarchical societies in China thousands of years ago.  McGovern also believes that “an exotic ingredient” that elites could have used to impress their friends and stay in power — “much like when we serve up that $70,000 bottle of 1982 Pétrus from Bordeaux” today.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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Sundar Pichai Clears Google’s China Centric Plans

Google had launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during a news conference in New Delhi. VOA

 Google CEO Sundar Pichai has for the first time gone public about his company’s China-centric plans and has stressed on its need to re-enter the Asian nation that has the world’s largest population, a media report said.

Pichai was speaking on Monday at Wired Magazine’s 25th anniversary summit here in the US.

Since China is an important market, Google is developing a censored search-engine for Beijing codenamed “Dragonfly” that would filter content deemed sensitive by its ruling Communist Party regime.

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks at the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif

“We wanted to learn what it would look like if Google were in China. It’s very early and we don’t know whether we would or could do this in China but we felt like it was important for us to explore, given how important the market is and how many users there are,” The Verge quoted Pichai as saying.

Information regarding Google’s “Dragonfly” project began surfacing in August and since then the company has faced severe backlash from its employees as well as the US government.

Google’s plan to launch the censored browser has come under heavy criticism from one of its former Asia-Pacific head of free expression who called it a “stupid move”.

In September, Google reportedly developed a prototype of “Dragonfly” that linked users’ search history to their personal phone numbers allowing security agencies to easily track users seeking out information banned by the government.

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Google’s plan to launch the censored browser has come under heavy criticism from one of its former Asia-Pacific head. VOA

Along with former Google Senior Scientist Jack Poulson, several other employees have resigned from the company citing lack of corporate transparency after it revealed its efforts about “Dragonfly”.

The company has been guarding the China-project details against the US Congress.

Appearing before members of the US Congress at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in September end, Google’s Chief Privacy Officer, Keith Enright confirmed that the China search project does exist, but did not disclose much.

President Donald Trump’s administration has also asked Google to shun the “Dragonfly” project.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Though Pichai describes his company’s China plans as very preliminary, it is clear that backlash within and outside the company has been vocal and will only intensify in future, the report added.

Also Read: U.S. Government Warns People Against China-Linked Hacking Group

Google had launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites. (IANS)