SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE:  A Chinese baker prepares Bak Kwa pies (Barbeque pork pies) for sale at a confectionary in Singapore, 20 January 2004.  The pies are one of the latest creation to hit Singapore during this festive period and Bak Kwa are among the necessary goodies for the Chinese in every Lunar New Year.  AFP PHOTO / ANGIE CHAN  (Photo credit should read ANGIE CHAN/AFP via Getty Images)
How Archaeologists Discovered 2,000-Year-Old Beef Jerky In China
By Elaina Friedman
Popular legend has it that the Spanish Conquistadors made a name for beef jerky in the 1500s after learning a Native American technique for drying meat. However, in 2009, a Chinese archaeological institute began a two-year excavation in Shaanxi Province, where they discovered that people in ancient China were also making their own version of jerky.
Paleontologist Hu Songmei disclosed that one of those discoveries was a bronze pot containing 2,000-year-old dried beef, an early form of beef jerky. The jerky had been resting in its tomb in the village of Wanli since the Warring States Period (475 B.C. – 221 B.C.), and while it had a fuzzy green-black hue due to carbonization, no shrinkage had occurred.
The meat might have been used for sweet and salty bak kwa, which translates to "dried meat" in the Hokkien dialect and is often eaten during the Lunar New Year. According to Malaysian Chinese Kitchen, bak kwa is prepared using “wafer thin slices of barbecued pork jerky” and is “grilled to perfection over [a] charcoal fire,” instead of being dehydrated like jerky.