The Chinese invented paper, gunpowder, silk and porcelain and now are being credited with the invention of noodles.
Scientists have found the remnants of a 4,000-year-old bowl of the stretched-dough culinary staple at an archaeological site on the banks of the Yellow River in north-western China.
Noodles have been eaten in many parts of the world for at least 2,000 years, but who invented them first - the Chinese, the Arabs or the Italians - was, until this find, a matter of debate.
The research team, led by Houyuan Lu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, found the noodles in a sealed earthenware bowl at the site of the ancient settlement of Lajia.
Analysis of the seed husks and starch grains in the noodles showed they were made from ground millet rather than the flour of barley and wheat used in many modern-day noodles.
A large earthquake probably caused the sudden destruction of the settlement at Lajia. "The bowl was found upside-down and embedded in brownish-yellow, fine clay. The remains of the noodles were inside, " the scientists say in the journal Nature.
The noodles were thin, delicate and up to 50 cm (20in) long. They resemble the present-day Chinese noodle "La-Mian", traditionally made by repeatedly stretching dough by hand.Reuse content