Archaeologists have unearthed 2500 years old noodles, moon cakes and other foods in a Chinese cemetery.
Since the cakes were cooked in an oven-like hearth, the findings suggest that the Chinese may have been among the world's first bakers.
Prior research determined the ancient Egyptians were also baking bread at around the same time, but this latest discovery indicates that individuals in northern China were skillful bakers who likely learned baking and other more complex cooking techniques much earlier.
"With the use of fire and grindstones, large amounts of cereals were consumed and transformed into staple foods," Discovery News quoted lead author Yiwen Gong, of University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, as saying.
The archaeologists have also found bows, arrows, saddles, leather chest-protectors, boots, woodenwares, knives, an iron aw, a leather scabbard, and a sweater in the graves. But the scientists focused this particular study on the excavated food.
The food included noodles mounded in an earthenware bowl, sheep's heads (which may have held symbolic meaning), another earthenware bowl full of porridge, and elliptical-shaped cakes as well as round baked goods that resembled modern Chinese moon cakes.
Chemical analysis of the starches revealed that both the noodles and cakes were made of common millet.
The study was published in the journal of Archaeological Science.