Chinese archaeologists soon to taste 2400-year-old soup and wine?

Chinese archaeologists have dug up an ancient cooking vessel containing bones and a strange green liquid - the last remains of an ancient broth - as well as another vessel containing an odorless liquid that might once have been wine.

The soup was in a sealed bronze cooking vessel found near China's ancient capital of Xian. Both the soup and wine were locked away in a tomb about 2,400 years ago, and archaeologists discovered them as they were excavating the area to clear it for a local airport.

This is the first ever discovery of bone soup in Chinese archaeological history, and tests are now underway to figure out exactly what the ingredients were. However tasty the soup might once have been, it doesn't look very appetizing in its present state, as centuries spent inside a bronze pot have turned the soup green. The other liquid was most likely wine, but it has lost most of its distinguishing characteristics over the ensuing years, and we'll only know more once we find out its composition.

The tomb itself probably belonged to either a local landowner or perhaps a low-ranking military officer. Whoever he was, he apparently had a decent appetite, considering he was buried with fresh soup and wine. (Unless of course the soup and wine were poisoned, in which case he was buried with his murder weapons. But that theory is way too awesome to have much chance of being true.)

The soup and wine likely date back to the Warring States Period, a time from 475-221 BC when China was split into seven different states, all vying for domination. China was eventually unified under the Qin dynasty, and Xian became the new capital of all China. The soup and wine come from roughly the same time and place as the famous Terracotta Army, which was buried in honor of the first Qin emperor.

So, just so we're clear: Become the first-ever emperor of a unified China, and you will have 8,000 life-sized clay soldiers buried alongside you. Manage to own a scrap of land during constant civil war, and you get a little wine and soup put in your tomb. That seems surprisingly fair, now that I think about it.

[via BBC]