The literature on salt production, table salt in particular, has not
to my knowledge reported the use of soymilk and the by-product,
magnesium chloride.  From a prehistoric point of view the effort was to
remove it.  I have however heard of the use of soymilk in China added to 
to make it look whiter, and presumably more palatable as magnesium is a
particular problem at the site.  It seems to be a modern habit in the Far 
Thanks for bringing it to my attention,


>In Japan they traditionally coagulated soymilk to make tofu with Nigari,
>known in English as Bittern, predominantly magnesium chloride. I
>understood that bittern/nigari is the salt residues after the extraction
>of table salt/sodium chloride from sea-water. I don't know the
>procedures for this, but I suggest that the literature around
>traditional and contemporary manufacturing of table salt from sea-water
>may provide further insights into the process
>Beatrice Hopkinson wrote:
>> Discussions on this list, like the one below, frequently trigger my
>> thinking
>> with regard to my work on prehistoric salt sites.  There is a well known
>> ash process widely used in the salt industry in many countries.  That is
>> halophylic plants, coconut husks, peat and wood are burned and seawater
>> poured through this ash to increase the salt concentration of seawater in
>> order to make it economic to boil.  I recently discovered there is a
>> reaction taking place in the ash which preciptates much of the magnesium
>> in seawater to make the salt more fit for use, and I am wondering if some
>> on the list might have some thoughts on this.
>> with thanks and best wishes,
>> Bea
>> >Dear colleagues,
>> >
>> >Jay's reacton triggered a latent part of my memory! Freek Braadbaart has
>> >investigated the chemical and physical aspects of carbonisation in cereals
>> >and pulses. He charred material arteficially in a muffle furnace at
>> >different temperatures and at different heating rates. One of his main
>> >conclusions was that already at low temperatures, all proteins are
>> >converted into aromatics (benzene; cyclo-hexane). The material is even
>> >still brownish at these temperatures. There are much higher temperatures
>> >needed to arrive at the black material we usually find as charred plant
>> >remains. A recent publication of Freek can be found in VHA 17.1, including
>> >graphs with temperatures.
>> >
>> >If we take these observations into account, it should be impossible to
>> >retreive ancient DNA in charred archaeological material, as this is a
>> >chain of essentially four different proteins. I wonder whether researchers
>> >of DNA from charred remains have ever considered the implications of
>> >Freek's observations, or whether there are good arguments in pro of
>> >preservation of charred archaeological DNA.
>> >
>> >I would very much like to provide desiccated material as Jay requests, but
>> >unfortunately we don't have the appropriate preservation conditions for
>> >that in the Netherlands. But, Jay,  if waterlogged material, e.g. from
>> >medieval cesspits, would also be a possible source of DNA, please mail me,
>> >I can supply material of many globular Brassicaceae (Brassica, Raphanus,
>> >Sinapis) in that case (although Sinapis alba will be impossible in larger
>> >numbers, these are found only very occasionally). The morphologically
>> >based identification of Raphanus sativus for the Roman Period by Janneke
>> >Buurman would be one of the ideal (but waterlogged...) targets!
>> >
>> >With kind regards,
>> >
>> >oTTo
>> >
>> >
>> >
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>> >
>> Hon. Secretary Los Angeles Branch, Oxford University Society
>> AIA Board member, Los Angeles,
>> UCLA Institute of Archaeology Associate
>Nic Dolby
>School of Geography & Environmental Science
>Monash University
>CLAYTON, VIC., 3800
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Hon. Secretary Los Angeles Branch, Oxford University Society
AIA Board member, Los Angeles,
UCLA Institute of Archaeology Associate