Medicine

'World's oldest wine' found in 8000-year-old jars in Georgia

'World's oldest wine' found in 8000-year-old jars in Georgia

A series of excavations in Georgia has uncovered evidence of the world's earliest winemaking, in the form of telltale traces within clay pottery dating back to 6,000BC - suggesting that the practice of making grape wine began hundreds of years earlier than previously believed.

The earthenware jars were found in two sites south of Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, and contained residual wine compounds, the BBC reports.

It's thought the prehistoric imbibers of Georgia may have stored their wine in large jars underground, leaving them to ferment.

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said Stephen Batiuk, research associate at University of Toronto.

Until now, the oldest jars known to have contained wine dated from 7,000 years ago, with six vessels containing the chemical calling cards of the drink discovered in the Zagros Mountains in northern Iran in 1968.

It's unbelievable to think that 8,000 years ago the world's earliest winemakers were producing something very similar to the wine we consume today - and what's even more startling is it hints we probably had lots more in common with these ancient ancestors too.

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According to David Lordkipanidze who is the director of the Georgian National Museum and the man who helped lead the research, wine was made using a similar method to the gvevri process of today.

"The domesticated version of the fruit has more than 10,000 varieties of table and wine grapes worldwide". The study was published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). These two sites, Shulaveris Gora and Gadachrili Gora, dated back from 6000 to 4500 BC, and hid some remains of several ceramic jars.

The sites offered a glimpse into a neolithic culture characterised by circular mud-brick homes, tools made of stone and bone and the farming of cattle, pigs, wheat and barley. This was the moment when humans started involving in agricultural activities such as plant-growing and animal domestication.

"The horticultural potential of the south Caucasus was bound to lead to the domestication of many new and different species, and innovative "secondary" products were bound to emerge".

"Our research suggests that one of the primary adaptations of the Neolithic way of life as it spread to Caucasia was viniculture", Batiuk said.

Batiuk describes an ancient society in which the drinking and offering of wine penetrates and permeates almost every aspect of life from medical practice to special celebrations, from birth to death, to everyday meals at which toasting is common. "As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies and society in the ancient Near East". Many designs are available.


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