Oldest Known Pottery Found In Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan, China

Yuchanyan Cave
Yuchanyan Cave

I’ve admitted that cultural anthropology rarely gets its fair share on this blog, but I must also confess I don’t spread the love with archaeological news. Hopefully you’ll forgive me a bit today, because thanks to Luis, there’s news of the discovery of the oldest known pottery  — 17,500-18,300 years old from the Yuchanyan Cave in the Hunan province of China that I wanna share with you.

Let me remind you that the Yuchanyan cave also yielded the oldest kernels of rice in 2005 so it’s not too surprising to find old vessels to store the rice. The big shake up here is that previously, the Jōmon of Japan were considered to be the inventors of ancient pot making, with vessels dated to an age between 16,000 and 17,000 years ago.

Yuchanyan Pot
Yuchanyan Pot

One thing that isn’t properly clarified in news media buzz is that that act of firing clay and making figurines has twice as long as vessel making. In fact, ceramic objects, such as Gravettian figurines likes the Venus of Dolní Věstonice those from Dolni Vestonice, Czech Republic, a clay statuette of a female figure, is dated to 29,000–25,000 BCE. The distinction here is that the Yuchanyan pot is oldest known clay vessel.

You can read the full text of the study, published as an open access paper in the journal PNAS.

    Boaretto, E., Wu, X., Yuan, J., Bar-Yosef, O., Chu, V., Pan, Y., Liu, K., Cohen, D., Jiao, T., Li, S., Gu, H., Goldberg, P., & Weiner, S. (2009). Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and bone collagen associated with early pottery at Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan Province, China Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0900539106

3 thoughts on “Oldest Known Pottery Found In Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan, China

  1. For a college textbook on anthropology to be published by Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, the authors have asked me to get a photo of this pot by D. Cohen. Do you know how I can contact him or her for a hi-res file and the permission to publish it in the text? THANK YOU VERY MUCH
    978-399-5973 or above email.

    1. Billie,

      If you followed the link to the original post, you’d find that Dr. Cohen works at the International Center for East Asian Archaeology and Cultural History in Boston University, Boston, MA 0221. You can mail him there, or find the organization’s website thru a Google search and find out his contact information: (617) 358-8003; Email: “dcohen” @bu.edu. I am surprised that you call yourself a photo researcher…


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