Store Banner Desktop

Store Banner Mobile

2,000-Year-Old Meat Soup Found in Chinese Nobleman’s Tomb

2,000-Year-Old Meat Soup Found in Chinese Nobleman’s Tomb

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Ancient remnants of oxen stew partially preserved in a cauldron, have been found in the tomb of a Chinese nobleman. The tomb, in Henan Province near the city of Xinyang, dates back about 2,000 years in an area of the Chu Kingdom of the Warring States period. Officials are keeping the exact location of the tomb a secret for reasons of security.

The stew or meat soup contains oxen bones, meat and other ingredients, though stories on the Internet did not mention the other contents. The presence of the bones prompted archaeologists to conclude the cauldron contained beef soup or beef stew.

A brief article on the find in China’s Global Times website says the favorite foods of nobility were often buried with them so they could have feasts in the afterlife.

Global Times mentions other ancient finds of foods dating to antiquity, including:

  • A pot of lotus root soup from the Han Dynasty of 206 BC to 220 AD was unearthed at Hunan Provinces’ Mawangdui Tombs in 1972.
  • Dumplings from a Tang Dynasty tomb dating to between 618 and 907 AD in Turpan of Xinjiang region.
  • About 26 liters (6.87 gallons) of ancient baijiu liquor at Xi’an City of a Shaanxi Province

In related news, Ancient Origins’ April Holloway reported in October that archaeologists discovered an ancient feast, still intact, in a 1,600-year-old roasting pit at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada.

The exact contents of the meaty meal were yet to be announced, though it was found near a buffalo jump site where Native Americans or First Nations people ran buffalo off of cliffs to harvest meat, skins for clothing and shelters and the bones and sinews for tools and stitching threads.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta where the ancient First Nations meal was found

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta where the ancient First Nations meal was found (Harry NL / Flickr ). 

The finding of the ancient native meal was made at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump on Blackfoot First Nation territory, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buffalo jump was used for nearly 6,000 years by the indigenous peoples of the plains to kill buffalo by driving them off the 11-metre (36-foot) high cliff by dressing up as coyotes and wolves.

Top image: The type of cauldron in which the 2,000-year-old beef stew was found hasn’t been released, but this example of an ancient Chinese cauldron dates to the Yangshao Culture in Henan Province. (Wikimedia Commons photo/Gary Lee Todd)

By Mark Miller

Mark Miller's picture


Mark Miller has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and is a former newspaper and magazine writer and copy editor who's long been interested in anthropology, mythology and ancient history. His hobbies are writing and drawing.

Next article