Fragments Found Might Be World’s Oldest Pottery

Pottery fragments recently unearthed in China have been confirmed to be a whopping 20,000 years young, making them the oldest known pottery in the world.

Archaeologists found the fragments in a south China cave, notes Newser. The findings will appear in the journal Science on Friday, and are just the latest in a recent effort to date pottery fragments discovered in Asia beyond 15,000 years. The effort stands against conventional knowledge that pottery was invented about 10,000 years ago when human beings moved from being hunter-gatherers to being farmers, notes the Associated Press.

In an accompanying Science article, Gideon Shelach, chair of the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies at The Hebrew University in Israel, wrote that such research efforts “are fundamental for a better understanding of socio-economic change (25,000 to 19,000 years ago) and the development that led to the emergency of sedentary agricultural societies.”

Wu Xiaohong, professor at Peking University (also the lead author of the Science article that details the radiocarbon dating efforts), told The Associated Press that her team is itching to discover more in this vein. “We are very excited about the findings. The paper is the result of efforts done by generations of scholars,” Wu said. “Now we can explore why there was pottery in that particular time, what were the uses of the vessels, and what role they played in the survival of human beings.”

The team published an article with similar findings back in 2009. In it, they determined fragments found in China’s Hunan province to be 18,000 years old.

“The difference of 2,000 years might not be significant in itself, but we always like to trace everything to its earliest possible time,” Wu said. “The age and location of pottery fragments help us set up a framework to understand the dissemination of the artifacts and the development of human civilization.”

What do you think of the world’s oldest pot? Not much to look at, is it?