Where was the Beef?!

A strip of Chinese jerky survives 2,000 years in a tomb.

Carbonized beef from a Chinese tomb over 2,000 years old.

Xi’an, China, most famous for its Terracotta Army at the Qin Shi Huang tomb site, continues to produce remarkable finds – right down to the beef. As part of ongoing archaeological projects in the Xi’an area the, tomb was uncovered two years ago and carefully investigated.

Found in a bronze pot, the beef had completely carbonized, essentially turning to black rock. But at the time of burial the salted meat would have been edible. The tomb is significant for its placement in Chinese history, believed to date back to the Warring States Period (475 BC – 221 BC), which led to the unification of China under Emperor Qin.

Bronze pot containing salted beef excavated from Chinese tomb.

While Xi’an holds cultural significance for China as far back at the 11th century BCE, when it was a political and cultural capital under the  Zhou Dynasty, its roots reach deep into prehistory.

In the 1950’s a Neolithic village was discovered near Xi’an and dated to 6,500 years old. But the real tour-stopper is the Lantian Man, discovered nearby in 1963, and said to be at least 500,000 years old.

As the Chinese continue to dig (literally) into the roots of their civilization, the world shares in their fascination. This week, we’re thinking about what’s on the menu and are glad that the beef didn’t become a midnight snack for tomb robbers in the ancient past.

Now, here’s the cheese on this Brain Burger.

3 common complaints about Chinese food excavated from tombs:

  1. The beef is hard as a rock!
  2. The wontons turn to dust when you try to bite into them.
  3. No MSG because it hadn’t been invented yet 😦
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Categories: archaeology, History, The Ancient World, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Where was the Beef?!

  1. The complete, and rigorously researched history of Qin Shi Huang and the founding of China is in my book: The School of Sun Tzu. And yes, it explains the role played by the alleged “Sun Tzu” and “Lao Tzu” in that founding. They were schools of learning. http://tinyurl.com/bq5klsn

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