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chinadaily.com.cn 2023-02-22 17:42


>2400-year-old flush toilet unearthed in China

Broken parts of the toilet, including a bent pipe, were unearthed from the Yueyang archaeological site in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, last summer and pieced together for months before researchers released details on Wednesday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A pottery toilet ancient Chinese people used during the Qin Dynasty has been discovered at the Yueyang City Ruins in Northwest China's Shaanxi province. The discovery is the only "toilet" to have been discovered at an ancient Chinese palace archaeological site and the first "flush toilet" discovered by archaeology.

The Yueyang City Ruins are located in the Yanliang district of Yueyang.

The discovery was made by experts excavating the No.3 Ancient Building at the Yueyang City Ruins. The ancient relic consists of two parts, an indoor toilet on a platform and a pipe system below that directed sewage outside.

The upper half of the flush toilet was not found during the excavation and hence, experts cannot confirm whether its users sat on it or squatted over it.

The toilet is believed to have been used by Qin Xiaogong (381-338BC) or his father Qin Xian'gong (424-362BC) of the Qin Kingdom during the Warring States Period (475-221BC), or by Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220).

"The flush toilet is concrete proof of the important attachment ancient Chinese people have to sanitation," said Liu Rui from the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

> A plant-derived natural photosynthetic system for improving cell anabolism


Photosynthesis is a unique skill of green plants – they turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and food via sunlight.

A group of Chinese scientists, however, have “copied” the process on animals.

To understand the new breakthrough, it is important to know how photosynthesis works.

Plants take in carbon dioxide and water from the air and soil.

Within the plant cell, the water is oxidized. This transforms the water into oxygen and the carbon dioxide into glucose.

The plant then releases the oxygen back into the air and stores energy within the glucose molecules.

In the study, the researchers from Zhejiang University developed an independent and controllable photosynthetic system, according to the study published in Nature in early December, 2022.

They separated thylakoids, a part of the cell where light reactions take place in plants, from young spinach leaves. The scientists then wrapped the thylakoids with the cover of animal cells, which made the implanted thylakoids more acceptable to foreign bodies.

The mice used in the study were suffering from arthritis, meaning cells in their cartilage had degenerated and could not be repaired by themselves.

With the thylakoids implanted into the mice and exposed to light, the mice recovered. Their metabolism returned to normal.

In arthritis, patients usually have energy loss since fewer energy-carrying molecules are generated.

The implant, however, can correct the imbalance by storing more energy via photosynthesis.

The researchers also claimed that their tests would have medical usage. It can be used as part of the solution for degenerative diseases because the natural photosynthesis system may repair cells. It may also delay the aging process in cells.

The study showed “an exciting achievement that opens up possibilities of metabolism engineering,” commented one of the paper’s reviewers Francisco Cejudo from the University of Seville in Spain, reported Xinhua.

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