Saturday, July 7, 2012

What is a "Prohibition Device?"

This is just one mystery out of the following article:

From 2012-07-06 00:36:11

XI'AN, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Liquid inside an ancient wine vessel unearthed in Shaanxi province is considered to be the earliest wine in China's history, archaeologists told Xinhua Thursday.

The wine vessel made of bronze was unearthed in a noble's tomb of the West Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC - 771 BC) in Shigushan Mountain in Baoji city.

The liquid is likely the oldest wine discovered in China, said Liu Jun, director of Baoji Archaeology Institute, who is in charge of the project.

The vessel, one of the six discovered in the tomb, could be heard to contain a liquid when it was shaken, Liu said. However, the cover of the vessel was pretty solid and there was no appropriate tools to open it at the excavation site, so the liquid remains a mystery, he said.

During the Shang Dynasty (1600BC-1046BC), the dynasty before the Zhou Dynasty, wine became a symbol of corruption as Shang officials used to drink excessively, he said.

The people of Zhou made "prohibition devices" to put on the table to remind people to drink in moderation, he said. A 95-centimeter-long and 21-centimeter-tall "prohibition device" was unearthed with the wine vessels on June 25 in the same tomb, which is the first of this kind unearthed in Baoji, he said.

Many other bronze devices with inscriptions were unearthed on Thursday.

The excavation work is still underway at the site and more bronze devices are expected to be discovered in the next couple of days.
Editor: Mu Xuequan
A photograph of one of these "prohibition devices" would be useful, don't you think?  Geez!  What were they - gags made out of metal?  Come to think of it, we could use some of those in Washington, D.C.

The other mystery is why is the "oldest wine in China" only about 3000 years old?  Surely wine was being fermented long before the Shang Dynasty!  I believe wine was already already being made in the Middle East around 10,000 years ago -- I have a recollection of reading several articles many years ago that talked about the domestication and deliberate cultivation of grapes in the Lake Van region as early as 9000 BCE, and it didn't take long for the vines to make their way down the mountains in Armenia into the plains of the Middle East. 

Does the article actually mean to say that the wine discovered in the tomb was the first actual wine still in liquid form discovered?  That, in and of itself, is actually quite amazing, when you think about it!

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