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Top 10 Ancient Chinese Inventions

        Science | Inventions

4
Alcohol
To the ancient Chinese!
To the ancient Chinese!
Klaas Jan Schraa/iStockphoto

You c­an thank the Chinese for ethanol and isopropyl alcohol -- not to mention beer, wine and liquor. When you think of it, few of man's ingenuities have delivered as much joy and sorrow as alcohol.

For many years, it was assumed that alcohol fermentation grew out of other, similar processes. By the early third century B.C., the Chinese had figured out how to refine food products like vinegar and soy sauce using the techniques of fermentation and distillation [source: Huang]. Alcoholic spirits would soon follow.

Recent archaeological discoveries have pushed the date for Chinese fermentation and the creation of alcohol much further back. Nine-thousand-year-old pottery shards uncovered in Henan province show traces of alcohol. This discovery proves that the Chinese were the first to make alcohol, since the previous title holders, the ancient Arabs, didn't come up with alcoholic drinks until 1,000 years later [source: Walter].