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China hosts world's oldest pottery; no faux fu cauldron here

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Move over Mings (of Ming vase fame). Scientists have uncovered Chinese pottery from the Wei Bak Wen dynasty.

Well, not dynasty, really, but from folks who inhabited a cave in southern China between 18,300 and 17,500 years ago. That's 1,000 years older than the oldest pots found in Japan. So for now, China can boast of being host to the earliest point of origin for pottery-making around the globe (sorry, Japan).

That's the take from a team of archaeologists from China, Israel, the US, and Britain. They've been working in a cave in the southern Yangtze river basin trying to get a better handle on the cave's inhabitants at the end of the last glacial maximum -- the period when mile-thick glaciers reached their maximum spread over the continents of the northern hemisphere. That was between 23,000 and 18,000 years ago.

Their work appears in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. You can download a full copy of their formal report here.


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