Chinese scientist Wu Xiaohong, a professor of archaeology and museology at Peking University, along with American scientist have confirmed from testing that a piece of pottery found in a cave in China that dates back 20,000. The shard was discovered in the Xianrendog cave in China's Jiangxi provine, which was excavated in the 1960s and the 1990s.
Results of this test refute conventional theories that the invention of pottery correlates to the period about 10,000 years ago when humans moved from being hunter-gathers to farmers. It was believed to have been used by mobile foragers hunting and gathering during the Late Glacian Maximum, the high point of the Ice Age according to the journal.
"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 results were announced today in the journal Science. In an accompanying article, Gideon Shelach, chair of the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies at The Hebrew University in Israel, wrote: "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."
In verifying the age, Wu and her team took samples of charcoal and bone from sedimentary layers above and below where the pottery was found, and dated them using radiocarbon dating. "This way, we can determine with precision the age of the fragments, and our results can be recognized by peers," Wu said.