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New Discovery: The World’s Oldest Wine Cellar
November 22, 2013
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Researchers today announced the discovery of the world's oldest known wine cellar at Tel Kabri, a 75-acre archaeological site that was once an Ancient Canaanite city (now in northern Israel). The cellar dates back to around 1,700 BC, and contained 40 jars with a capacity of 2,000 l each — the equivalent of about 3,000 bottles of wine.

“This is a hugely significant discovery," Eric H. Cline, the co-director of the excavation and an archaeologist at George Washington University, said in a statement. "It’s a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in its age and size.”

When the researchers found them, the jars had long since dried up. To determine what they originally contained, Andrew Koh, a researcher on the project from Brandeis University, performed an organic residue analysis, and came away with some interesting results. Not only did he find tartaric and syringic acid — two key components in wine — he also found clues to what Ancient Canaanite wine might have tasted like: the compounds he discovered suggested they probably added honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins to the mix.

What's more, the researchers found remarkable consistency from jar to jar. “This wasn’t moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements,” Koh said in a press release. “This wine’s recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar.”

The cellar was found near a banquet hall at the excavation site, "a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine,” said Dr. Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa and the project's other co-director. The researchers believe that both the cellar and the hall were destroyed during the same violent event, perhaps an earthquake.

The 40 jars were all removed from the site before wintertime by the researchers, but before they left, they found two more doors leading out from the cellar, behind which may lie even more wine. The dig will resume in 2015.

Via Eureka Alert


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