Pottery fragments found in a south China cave have been confirmed to be 20,000 years old, making them the oldest known pottery in the world, archaeologists say. The findings, which will appear in the journal Science tomorrow, add to recent efforts that have dated pottery piles in east Asia to more than 15,000 years ago, refuting conventional theories that the invention of pottery correlates to about 10,000 years ago when humans moved from being hunter-gathers to farmers.
The research by a team of Chinese and American scientists also pushes the emergence of pottery back to the last Ice Age, which might provide new explanations for why early humans created it. "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," says one of the researchers. (Read more archaeology stories.)