Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Ancient Noodles

How far back in time do noodles go?

A recent archaeological discovery in China pushes the origins of noodles far before the Middle Ages. A National Geographic article reports that a sealed, overturned bowl containing noodles was found below three feet of sediment at the Lajia site in northwestern China.   The contents are estimated to be 4,000 years old. 

A good picture of the noodles may be found here. They look surprisingly like the noodles you might be served in any dish of lo mein at any modern Chinese food restaurant anywhere in the world. The noodles have been analyzed and were found to be made, not from wheat flour, or rice flour, but from two different kinds of millet, the original staple grain of that part of the world.

So the next time you eat noodles, whether as spaghetti, lo mein, or ramen soup, think about how long human beings have been eating similar foods.


  1. And that's just *evidence* of noodles. Noodles themselves are presumably somewhat older.

  2. It's impossible to say, since we won't *know* that noodles are older than 4,000 years until we find evidence to that effect. :-)

    The long version of the article, by the way, notes that previously the evidence for the antiquity of noodles was literary in nature and dated between 25 CE and 220 CE.

  3. What was the estimate of what year noodles were created.


  4. As I mentioned in my previous comment, the previous evidence on the antiquity of noodles was based on literary references. Based on those references, the estimate was between 25 C.E. and 220 C.E. This actual, dated find of noodles pushes the date back to approximately 2000 B.C.E.