Researchers in China identified a mysterious liquid found in an ancient bronze pot thousands of years ago, and it turned out to be a legendary potion in the Chinese legend.
According to archaeologists, the strange yellowish liquid that appeared during excavations in Henan Province of China in the middle of last year is an old ‘immortal potion’ that was once thought to give immortal life to those who drank it in the past.
“This is the first time this legendary ‘immortality drugs’ have been found in China,” said Shi Jiazhen, head of the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology, Xinhua this week.
“Fluid is an important value for the study of ancient China’s thinking about achieving immortality and the evolution of Chinese civilization.”
The bronze pottery was uncovered from an expanding 210 square meter (2,260 square feet) tomb in Luoyang city, extending to the Western Han Dynasty (202 – 8 CE).
Not to mention the preserved remains of the grave’s inhabitants, it is located within a distance of a number of ancient artifacts, including painted clay pots and a goose-shaped lamp.
But the mysterious liquid – still kept in the bronze pot for almost 2000 years without spoiling – captured the imagination of the researchers, making the team suspect they initially found liquor.
“There is a 3.5 liter liquid of transparent yellow color,” Shi said in November last year. “It smells like wine.”
At that time, archaeologists poured the liquid into a bronze vessel measuring glass, and in the lab it was necessary to conduct further analysis in the laboratory to determine what kind of old alcohol it was, the liquid made from rice and sorghum grains were previously discovered in similar finds.
But ultimately it was not rice wine, the results reported by archaeologists that the mysterious liquid is a mixture of potassium nitrate and alunite.
More recently, potassium nitrate has been used in everything from fireworks to manure and food thickeners – but researchers match materials for the ‘elixir of life’, as documented in ancient Taoist texts.
Potions that are said to be immortal or preternatural perennials have long been a feature of many cultures, and in the case of ancient China, they are usually gold, jade, mercury, arsenic and many other nondigestible or poisonous minerals.
In fact, the high risk level associated with drinking these magical potions was so famous that a whole research group is dedicated to the history of Chinese alchemy potion poisoning, and depending on the exposure level, ingestion of potassium nitrate can be fatal.
However, we do not know if this ancient potion of the Western Han Dynasty was actually buried at all, or, as Gizmodo points out, it was placed as a ritual tomb object.
But given the things that sometimes get into these drinks, deprivation was probably the only true secret of a long and prosperous life. You chose wisely.