Food & Wine
Appletravel

World's oldest winery unearthed in Armenian Areni-1 cave

Updated: 12 Jan 2011
Share this news?...Click box   Bookmark and Share
The world's oldest winery has been uncovered in the Areni-1 cave complex in the mountains of Armenia.

A grape press, fermentation jars and even a cup and drinking bowl dating to about 6,100 years ago were discovered by an international team of researchers.

While older evidence of wine drinking has been found, this is the earliest example of complete wine production, according to Gregory Areshian of the University of California, Los Angeles, co-director of the excavation.
 
Archaeologist Levon Petrosyan looks at a 6,100-year-old wine-making equipment
discovered by an international project at the excavations of the Areni-1 cave complex in Armenia

'The evidence argues convincingly for a wine-making facility,' said Patrick McGovern, scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, who was not part of the research team.

Such large-scale wine production implies that the Eurasian grape had already been domesticated, said McGovern, author of 'Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages.'

The same Armenian area was the site of the discovery of the oldest known leather shoe, dated to about 5,500 years ago. That discovery at the area known as Areni-1 was reported last summer.

According to the archeologists, inside the cave was a shallow basin about 3 feet across that was positioned to drain into a deep vat.

The basin could have served as a wine press where people stomped the grapes with their feet, a method Areshian noted was traditional for centuries.
 
The wine press is seen in front of an archaeological identification kit. The vat, right of the
press, apparently used for accumulating grape juice and the consequent wine fermentation
 
A torch illuminates the inside of the vat into which the wine press.
On the inner surface, chemists found evidence of the plant pigment malvidin,
the substance that makes wine stains so difficult to remove. The bottom of
the vat is covered with dark gray organic residues

They also found grape seeds, remains of pressed grapes and dozens of dried vines. The seeds were from the same type of grapes - Vitis vinifera vinifera - still used to make wine.

The earliest comparable remains were found in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian king Scorpion I, dating to around 5,100 years ago.

Because the wine-making facility was found surrounded by graves, the researchers suggest the wine may have been intended for ceremonial use.

That made sense to McGovern, who noted that wine was the main beverage at funeral feasts and was later used for tomb offerings.

Indeed, he said, 'Even in lowland regions like ancient Egypt where beer reigned supreme, special wines from the Nile Delta were required as funerary offerings and huge quantities of wine were consumed at major royal and religious festivals.'

McGovern noted that similar vats for treading on grapes and jars for storage have been found around the Mediterranean area.

In his books, McGovern has suggested that a 'wine culture,' including the domestication of the Eurasian grape, was first consolidated in the mountainous regions around Armenia before moving to the south.

The findings are published in the online edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
 
Prehistoric plonk: A range of 6,100-year-old desiccated grape stems and
dried pressed grapes that were found on and around the wine press
in the Armenian cave at the excavations
 
SOURCE: Daily Mail
 
Editorial Message   
This site contains materials from other clearly stated media sources for the purpose of discussion stimulation and content enrichment among our members only.
whatsonxiamen.com does not necessarily endorse their views or the accuracy of their content. For copyright infringement issues please contact
editor@whatsonxiamen.com
Share this news?...Click box   Bookmark and Share
Comments Area ( Total Comments: 0 )
  

You are now in Food