The discovery was made in a tomb found in Xi'an in the Shaanxi province, northwest of China, during excavations being carried out for the extension of the local airport.
A team of Chinese archaeologists discovered a 2,400-year-old bronze vessel of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) believed to contain bone soup inside. The vessel is a tripod covered pot measuring about 20 centimetres tall with a 24.5 centimetres diameter top opening, the Daily Mail reports. It contains bones soaked in a greenish liquid. The bones and "soup" are being analyzed to determine what ingredients were used in the recipe.
"It's the first time Chinese archaeologists have unearthed such a container with bone soup still inside," said Liu Daiyun, the head of the tomb's excavation team, as reported by AsiaOne.com.
"This discovery will serve to study the eating habits of the Warring States period," said Liu.
The researchers also found another tripod bronze pot containing an odourless liquid believed to be ancient wine. From the style of the tomb and the artifacts found inside, the team of archaeologists presume that the pots belonged to an army officer or a rich landlord.
Map of China (260 BCE) showing the location of the seven "Warring States"
The Warring States Period in Chinese history covers the period from about 475 BC to the unification of China under the Qin Dynasty in 221 BC. This event marked the end of a long period of conflict between 7 states of China and the establishment of Xianyang, just northwest of modern Xi'an, as the Chinese capital.
The first emperor of unified China, Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of his mausoleum just to the east of Xi'an which was guarded by the famous Terracotta Army. The area has been a rich source of several archaeological findings for many years. Xi'an also contains some 800 royal mausoleums and tombs from the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) with some of them yielding hundreds of clay artifacts and soldiers, and remains of sacrificial temples from the Han era.