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“This way, we can determine with precision the age of the fragments, and our results can be recognized by peers,” Wu said.

Shelach said he found the process done by Wu’s team to be meticulous and that the cave had been well protected throughout the research.

The same team in 2009 published an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which they determined the pottery fragments found in south China’s Hunan province to be 18,000 years old, Wu said.

“The difference of 2,000 years might not be significant in itself, but we always like to trace everything to its earliest possible time,” Wu said. “The age and location of pottery fragments help us set up a framework to understand the dissemination of the artifacts and the development of human civilization.”