ARIEL, West Bank (JTA) — The small cardboard box in Elyashiv Drori’s palm looks like it’s full of black pebbles.
Closing the box quickly, he explains that it cannot be open for long. The pebble-like pieces, which were uncovered in an archaeological dig near Jerusalem’s Old City, are in fact remains of a kilo of grapes stored nearly 3,000 years ago. They were preserved under layers of earth from the era when David and Solomon ruled over the Land of Israel.
Next to his laboratory at Ariel University, Drori — an oenophile who has judged international wine competitions — already has barrels of wine made from grapes that have grown in Israel for two millennia. Finding a living sample of the 3,000-year-old grapes will be the next step in his years-long quest to produce wine identical to that consumed in ancient Israel. Read more.
Israel isn’t particularly famous for its wine today, but four thousand years ago, during the Bronze Age, vineyards in the region produced vintages that were prized throughout the Mediterranean and imported by the Egyptian elite.
Last summer, archaeologists discovered a rare time capsule of this ancient drinking culture: the world’s oldest known wine cellar, found in the ruins of a sprawling palatial compound in Upper Galilee.
The mud-brick walls of the room seem to have crumbled suddenly, perhaps during an earthquake. Whatever happened, no one came to salvage the 40 wine jars inside after the collapse; luckily for archaeologists, the cellar was left untouched for centuries. Read more.
U.S. archaeologists may have found the ancestor of Chianti wine in an ancient well in the Chiantishire region of Tuscany.
Found in Cetamura, an ancient hilltop near Gaiole in Chianti in the province of Siena, the 105-foot-deep well yielded a bonanza of artifacts such as bronze vessels, cups, statuettes, coins and game pieces. The objects span a period of more than 15 centuries and embrace Etruscan, Roman and medieval civilization in Tuscany.
The most precious material, though, might be some 500 waterlogged grape seeds.
Found in at least three different levels of the well, which include the Etruscan and Roman levels, the perfectly preserved pips can provide key insights into the history of viticulture in a region now famous for its bold reds. Read more.
Conventional wisdom agrees that a fine wine generally gets better with age — good news for the 6,200-year-old wine samples unearthed in Greece, huh?
Researchers working at an ongoing dig site in northern Greece recently announced that the final results of residue analysis from ancient ceramics showed evidence of wine dating back to 4200 B.C., according to the Greek Reporter. The excavation, located at a prehistoric settlement known as Dikili Tash, is situated 1.2 miles from the ancient city of Philippi and has been inhabited since 6500 B.C., according to the researchers’ website.
The analysis was not conducted on liquid wine, though. The passing millennia have erased nearly all tangible evidence of the drink. Read more.
Archaeologists in Italy have set about making red wine exactly as the ancient Romans did, to see what it tastes like.
Based at the University of Catania in Sicily and supported by Italy’s national research centre, a team has planted a vineyard near Catania using techniques copied from ancient texts and expects its first vintage within four years.
"We are more used to archaeological digs but wanted to make society more aware of our work, otherwise we risk being seen as extraterrestrials," said archaeologist Daniele Malfitana.
At the group’s vineyard, which should produce 70 litres at the first harvest, modern chemicals will be banned and vines will be planted using wooden Roman tools and will be fastened with canes and broom, as the Romans did. Read more.
A seminar was held on Wednesday in Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the archaeological excavation of ancient liquor-making sites in Xinghua Village.
The sites are famous in China’s history for its liquor production facilities.
The celebration was organized by the Fenjiu Wine Group, a liquor company headquartered in Xinghua Village, the Archaeological Society of China, and the Shanxi provincial bureau of cultural heritage.
Led by famous archaeologist Zhang Zhongpei, an archaeology team started excavating historical ruins in central Shanxi province 30 years ago.
Among some other major discoveries, some pre-historical vases with small mouths and pointed bases discovered in an excavation site in the Xinghua Village in 1982 are believed to be among the earliest water and wine vessels in human history. Read more.
ELAZIG, Turkey — There are easier places to make wine than the spectacular, desolate landscapes of southeast Turkey, but DNA analysis suggests it is here that Stone Age farmers first domesticated the wine grape.
Today Turkey is home to archaeological sites as well as vineyards of ancient grape varieties like Bogazkere and Okuzgozu, which drew the curiosity of the Swiss botanist and grape DNA sleuth Jose Vouillamoz, for the clues they may offer to the origin of European wine.
Together with the biomolecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern, Vouillamoz has spent nearly a decade studying the world’s cultivated and wild vines.
"We wanted to collect samples from wild and cultivated grape vines from the Near East — that means southeastern Anatolia, Armenia and Georgia — to see in which place the wild grape was, genetically speaking, linked the closest to the cultivated variety." Read more.
Beijing, July 6 (IANS) Liquid found inside an ancient wine vessel unearthed in China’s Shaanxi province is believed to be the earliest wine in the country’s history, dating back to the time of the West Zhou Dynasty (1046 B.C.-771 B.C.), archaeologists said.
The wine vessel made of bronze was found in a tomb of a noble man of the dynasty in Shigushan Mountain in Baoji city, Xinhua reported.
The liquid is likely the oldest wine discovered in China, said Liu Jun, director of the Baoji Archaeology Institute.
The vessel, one of the six discovered inside the tomb, could be heard to contain a liquid when it was shaken, Liu said.
However, the cover of the vessel was “pretty solid” and there was no appropriate tools to open it at the excavation site. So the liquid remains a mystery, he said. Read more.