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Oldest pottery comes from Chinese cave

Ice age foragers cooked with ceramic pots long before farmers did

Pottery making got off to an ancient, icy start in East Asia. Pieces of ceramic containers found in a Chinese cave date to between 19,000 and 20,000 years ago, making these finds from the peak of the last ice age the oldest known examples of pottery.

This new discovery suggests that hunter-gatherers in East Asia used pottery for cooking at least 10,000 years before farming appeared in that part of the world, say archaeologist Xiaohong Wu of Peking University in Beijing, China, and her colleagues. Cooking would have increased energy obtained from starchy foods and meat, a big plus in frigid areas with limited food opportunities, the researchers report in the June 29 Science.

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