In 2002, archaeologists found an earthenware bowl containing the world's oldest known noodles, measured to roughly 4000 years BP through radiocarbon dating, at the Lajia archaeological site along the Yellow River in China. The noodles were found well-preserved. They were described as resembling the traditional lamian noodle of China, which is made by "repeatedly pulling and stretching the dough by hand." The composition of the oldest noodles was studied by a team of Chinese researchers, who determined that the noodles were made from foxtail millet and broomcorn millet. The earliest written record of noodles is found in a book dated to the Eastern Han period (25–220) of China. Noodles, often made from wheat dough, became a staple food for people of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE).
Wheat noodles in Japan (udon) were adapted from a Chinese recipe by a Buddhist monk as early as the 9th century. Reshteh noodles were eaten by the people of Persia by the 13th century. Innovations continued, as for example, noodles made from kudzu (naengmyeon) were developed in the Joseon Dynasty of Korea (1392–1897). Ramen noodles, based on Chinese noodles, became popular in Japan by 1900.
Instant noodles were invented by Momofuku Ando and first marketed in Japan in 1958. According to Ando's method, a bundle of fresh noodles are flash-fried, which dries them out and provides for a long shelf life. Europe and the Near East
In the 1st century BCE, Horace wrote of fried sheets of dough called lagana. In the 2nd century CE, the Greek physician Galen mentioned itrion, made of flour and water. The Jerusalem Talmud records that itrium, a kind of boiled dough, was common in Palestine from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD, Arabs adapted noodles for long journeys in the 5th century, the first written record of dry pasta. Durum wheat pasta was introduced by Libyian Arabs during their conquest of Sicily in the late 7th century. The 9th century Arab physician Isho bar Ali defines itriyya, the Arabic cognate of the Hebrew word, as string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking. Muhammad al-Idrisi, wrote in 1154 that itriyya was manufactured and exported from Norman Sicily. Itriya was also known by the Aramaic speakers under the persian sphere and during the islamic rule referred to small soup noodle prepared by twisting bits of kneaded dough into shape.
The first recognizable reference to modern versions of pasta products in Italy dates to the 13th or 14th century. Pasta has taken on a variety of shapes, often based on regional specializations.
In the area that would become Germany, written mention of Spätzle has been found in documents dating from 1725, although medieval illustrations are believed to place this noodle at an even earlier date.