Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Confirmed Evidence of Oldest Yet Evidence of Wine Making

Very interesting.  The article is long so I will not put it here entirely, only some excerpts:

Chemical analysis confirms discovery of oldest wine-making equipment ever found
UCLA scientists use new scientific method to verify vintage 4100 B.C. wine
By Meg Sullivan January 10, 2011 Category: Research

Analysis by a UCLA-led team of scientists has confirmed the discovery of the oldest complete wine production facility ever found, including grape seeds, withered grape vines, remains of pressed grapes, a rudimentary wine press, a clay vat apparently used for fermentation, wine-soaked potsherds, and even a cup and drinking bowl.

The facility, which dates back to roughly 4100 B.C. — 1,000 years before the earliest comparable find — was unearthed by a team of archaeologists from Armenia, the United States and Ireland in the same mysterious Armenian cave complex where an ancient leather shoe was found, a discovery that was announced last summer.

Cave outside Armenian village

The discovery in 2007 of what appeared to be ancient grape seeds inspired the team to begin excavating Areni-1, a cave complex located in a canyon where the Little Caucasus mountains approach the northern end of the Zagros mountain range, near Armenia's southern border with Iran. The cave is outside a tiny Armenian village still known for its wine-making activities.

Radiocarbon analysis by researchers at UC Irvine and Oxford University has dated the installation and associated artifacts to between 4100 B.C. and 4000 B.C., or the Late Chalcolithic Period, also known as the Copper Age in recognition of the technological advances that paved the way for metal to replace stone tools.

Archaeologists found one shallow basin made of pressed clay measuring about 3 feet by 3-and-a-half feet. Surrounded by a thick rim that would have contained juices, and positioned so as to drain into the deep vat, the basin appears to have served as a wine press. Similarly structured wine-pressing devices were in use as recently as the 19th century throughout the Mediterranean and the Caucasus, Areshian said. No evidence was found of an apparatus to smash the grapes against the wine press, but the absence does not trouble the archaeologists.

"People obviously were stomping the grapes with their feet, just the way it was done all over the Mediterranean and the way it was originally done in California," Areshian said.

All around and on top of the wine press archaeologists found handfuls of grape seeds, remains of pressed grapes and grape must, and dozens of desiccated vines. After examining the seeds, paleobotanists from three separate institutions determined the species to be Vitis vinifera vinifera, the domesticated variety of grape still used to make wine.

The team also unearthed one cylindrical cup made of some kind of animal horn and one complete drinking bowl of clay, as well as many bowl fragments.

The closest comparable collection of remains was found in the late 1980s by German archaeologists in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian king Scorpion I, the researchers said. Dating to around 3150 B.C., that find consisted of grape seeds, grape skins, dried pulp and imported ceramic jars covered inside with a yellow residue chemically consistent with wine.

After the Areni-1 discovery, the next earliest example of an actual wine press is two and a half millennia younger: Two plaster basins that appear to have been used to press grapes between 1650 B.C. and 1550 B.C. were excavated in what is now Israel's West Bank in 1963.

Over the years, archaeologists have claimed to find evidence of wine dating as far back as 6000 B.C.–5500 B.C. And references to the art and craft of wringing an inebriant from grapes appear in all kinds of ancient settings. After Noah's Ark landed on Mount Ararat, for instance, the Bible says he planted a vineyard, harvested grapes, produced wine and got drunk. Ancient Egyptian murals depict details of wine-making. Whatever form it takes, early evidence of wine production provides a window into a key transition in human development, scientists say.

"Deliberate fermentation of carbohydrates into alcohol has been suggested as a possible factor that prompted the domestication of wild plants and the development of ceramic technology," said Barnard, who teaches in the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Ahem (cough cough) - please notice the location of Areni on the map.  It is in the region anciently known as Urartu and the land of the "mountains of Ararat" as referred to in the Bible. You will be familiar with the old fable (so we're told) from the Bible about Noah's ark landing "on the mountains of Ararat" and he, his family, and the animals he saved on the ark with him disembarked.  As the article goes on to explain, Noah planted a vineyard, in due time made some wine, and got drunk.  After living through an experience like the great flood, hell yes I'd get drunk, too! 

Perhaps continued investigations in the area will uncover even older evidence of wine production.  As I understand it, evidence of "agriculture" - that is, evidence of use of domesticated crops, dates back about 9,000 years ago (to c. 7,000 BCE) and not too far away from those "mountains of Ararat."  Hmmm....  just saying.


Unknown said...

oc/ch/kh o t/sk(letra)=ocot/l(N).
the favored wine of the sea and rope
age was, metl(N/root)=Metis, rope and
first wisdom deity, mother of Atena,
=mead/mëd/miel/methe(Gk/drink, Hindi/
Sima(Finn)=mead/metl(maguey plant),=
cima(N/root)=unstring the maguey
leaf/deshebrar la penca del maguey,
=cima(sp)=peak,=encima de(sp/prep),
=ci/chi(N)=on top hand/ma(no),=
c(l)ima(cloudy today)= climate(E)=c(r)ime(white collar),
oh, + c(r)in(sp)=mane of a horse.

Unknown said...

...ah, one more appended,
honey/cony wine,=metl octli(N)=
maguey wine/weak wine, until
it gets fermenting crazily
in your stomach=itetl(N)=the
dr(in)kstone. in my experience,
poliuhqui(N)=who/qui poliui/
pollutes=pulque(Mex beverage),
it's what you drink while you're
hiking because embriaguez comes
at you like the waves in Metis's
hair, so if you like one leg then
the other leg hiking, not necessarily
in sequence, it's for you.
it's the brew of 400 rabbits,
each drinker has his own, note,
the rabbit is symbol for Japonica
drinking also, as they were Calpixque
/majordomos/gardeners for the Olmec
besides Wisdom, Metis is the
mother of all rabbits/conys.

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