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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 October 2005, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Man Reunited with Long Lost Noodles in China
Late Neolithic noodles: An old man's final meal after 4000 years.

The remains of the world's oldest noodles have been unearthed and then eaten in China.

The 50cm-long, yellow strands were found in a pot that had probably been buried during a catastrophic flood.

Radiocarbon dating of the material taken from the Lajia archaeological site on the Yellow River indicates the food was about 4,000 years old.

Scientists tell the journal Nature that the noodles were made using grains from millet grass - unlike modern noodles, which are made with wheat flour.

The discovery goes a long way to settling the old argument over who first created the string-like food.

Scientists were very excited- but not as excited as an extraordinarily old man who interrupted the press conference insisting they were his noodles. He then shuffled up on stage and proceeded to eat the noodles.

That man was very old and obviously obsessed with his noodles..
Prof Kam-biu Liu
"I was shocked to see someone so old who claimed they were his noodles. I would not have eaten them," the researcher from the Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, explained to BBC News.

After eating the noodles the man exclaimed, "Ahh! Finally! My noodles. My long lost noodley nood...les...." Then he proceeded to die a death.

His remains were added to the remains of other remains discovered at the noodle scene. Skeletons thrown into various abnormal postures, suggesting the inhabitants may have been trying to flee the disaster that was enveloping them. This man most likely escaped that fate over 4000 years ago.

"Based on the geological and archaeological evidence, there was a catastrophic earthquake and immediately following the quake, the site was subject to flooding by the river," explained co-author Professor Kam-biu Liu, from Louisiana State University, US.

Map of Lajia (BBC)
"Lajia is a very interesting site; in a way, it is the Pompeii of China."

It was in amongst the human wreckage that scientists found the man's noodles in an upturned earthenware bowl filled with brownish-yellow, fine clay.

When they lifted the inverted container, the noodles were found sitting proud on the cone of sediment left behind. The man ate them hours later. Scientists are not sure whether it was the old age or the old noodles that killed the old man.

"It was this unique combination of factors that created a vacuum or empty space between the top of the sediment cone and the bottom of this bowl that allowed the noodles to be preserved. We are not sure what preserved the 4000 year old man," Professor Kam-biu Liu said.

The noodles resemble the La-Mian noodle, the team says; a traditional Chinese noodle that is made by repeatedly pulling and stretching the dough by hand. Descendants of the 4000 year old man said he also liked curly pasta and bowties.

Here is a photo of the 4000 year old man only 3 hours after eating his long lost noodles.

To identify the plants from which the noodles were made, the team looked at the shape and patterning of starch grains and so-called seed-husk phytoliths in the bowl.

These were compared with modern crops. The analysis pointed to the use of foxtail millet (Setaria italica) and broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum)

"Our data demonstrate that noodles were probably initially made from species of domesticated grasses native to China. To be honest I'm not sure how that guy was so sure they were his noodles. They could have been anyone's noodles," Professor Houyuan Lu said.



Los Angeles TimesPasta From the Past - 2 hrs ago
MSNBC World's oldest noodles found - 2 hrs ago
China Post World's oldest noodles found -- in China (Updated 12:48 a.m.) - 2 hrs ago
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