'Elixir of youth' discovered for the first time

Archaelogists have found the first traces of the elusive “elixir of immortality” during a dig in central China.

The mythical liquid is described in ancient Taoist literature and dates back 2000 years. It was found in a brown pot in a Western Han Dynasty tomb, according to Chinese state-run press agency Xinhua.

About 3.5 litres of the liquid were discovered at Luoyang last October but archaeologists originally believed the liquid was alcohol due to its pungent smell.

Yet it was later discovered the liquid contained potassium nitrate and alunite – ingredients ancient literature says were used in making the elixir which is said to have offered its consumers immortality. 

It was initially believed the elixir was alcohol due to its strong smell. Source: Xinhua

“It is the first time that mythical ‘immortality medicines’ have been found in China,” said Shi Jiazhen, head of the Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in Luoyang.

“The liquid is of significant value for the study of ancient Chinese thoughts on achieving immortality and the evolution of Chinese civilization.”

The dig site in Luoyang. Source: Xinhua

The pot the liquid was found in was among several artefacts recovered including number of colour-painted clay pots, jadeware and bronze pieces.

The remains of the tomb occupant have also been preserved.

The story of the elixir of immortality, also known as the elixir of life, has sparked a number of high-profile searches in the past, notably  the nation’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. 

He died from drinking an elixir, which was said to contain toxic ingredients.

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