Saturday, February 26, 2011

The oldest winery in the world

The oldest winery ever found is 6,100 years old. It was recently discovered inside a cave in Armenia, near the country's southern border with Iran. Archeologists were able to date the winemaking installation to approximately 4,100 BC. That's the Copper Age, a transitional period between the Stone Age and the Bronze Age. In the cave, they found winemaking equipment, including a rudimentary wine press, a clay vat probably used for fermentation, a cup and drinking bowl, as well as remains of pressed grapes and grape must. They found no device to actually crush the grapes so they think that people stomped the grapes with their feet. The installation was surrounded by graves, which suggests that the wine may have had a ceremonial role.

After examining the seeds, paleobotanists were able to identify the grapes as vitis vinifera vinifera, which indicates that the winegrape had already been domesticated at the time. This is an important milestone in Human Evolution.

“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 Hans Barnard, one of the archaeologists who teaches in the UCLA Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures.

Until now, the oldest wine production site was dated to around 3150 B.C. and was found in the tomb of Egyptian king Scorpion I.

You can read the whole article here, it's fascinating.

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