In “Pottery invented in China to cook food and brew alcohol” (BBC News , 28 June 2012), Pallab Ghosh reports that pieces of a large bowl found in Jiangxi Province are 20,000 years old. Pottery had been theorized to get started only 10,000 years ago, when agriculture prevailed. The theory was, pottery would be too hard for nomads to transport.
But in the past 10 years, researchers have found instances of pottery pre-dating agriculture.
One possible reason for the invention of pottery is that 20,000 years ago the Earth was the coldest it had been for a million years.
According to the lead researcher, Prof Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard University, pottery cauldrons would have enabled people to extract more nutrition from their food by cooking it.
“Hunter-gatherers were under pressure to get enough food,” he told BBC News.
Hmmm. What will be the explanation if they find pottery from 30,000 years ago?
Here’s New Scientist’s take.
See also: Musical instruments pushed back by about 7,000 years
Human evolution: Artists’ workshop from 100,000 years ago
Sophisticated tool production system discovered, from 200,000-400,000 million years ago
Oh, and Michael Cremo is still wrong?