Revealing a 5,000-y-old beer recipe in China


Yangshao period, alcohol, starch analysis, phytolith analysis, archaeological, chemistry


The pottery vessels from the Mijiaya site reveal, to our knowledge, the first direct evidence of in situ beer making in China, based on the analyses of starch, phytolith, and chemical residues. Our data reveal a surprising beer recipe in which broomcorn millet (Panicum miliaceum), barley (Hordeum vulgare), Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), and tubers were fermented together. The results indicate that people in China established advanced beer-brewing technology by using specialized tools and creating favorable fermentation conditions around 5,000 y ago. Our findings imply that early beer making may have motivated the initial translocation of barley from the Western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China before the crop became a part of agricultural subsistence in the region 3,000 y later.

Original Publication Citation

Wang, J., Liua, L., Ball, T.B., Yud, L., Lie, Y., and Xing, F. 2016. Revealing a 5,000-y-old beer recipe in China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(23):6444-6448.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor