World's Oldest Wine Found in 8000-Year-Old Jars

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

Pottery fragments from 8,000-year-old jars unearthed near the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, are the earliest evidence of wine-making in the Near East, bringing the tradition back nearly 1,000 years earlier than thought, researchers said on November 13, 2017.

Whilst what little remaining liquid has certainly evaporated from the earthenware jars, researchers were still able to identify residual wine compounds that originated from two sites south of the Georgian capital of Tbilisi from around 5,980 BC. The inside of the jars, dating back as far as 5,980 BC, were coated with chemical traces of wine. The findings were released Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine".

Large jars called qvevri, similar to the ancient ones, are still used for wine-making in Georgia, said David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum who helped lead the research. Georgia is one of the ideal environments for such undertakings, as it hosts about 500 species and varieties of grapes used only for wine, together with many others cultivated for fruits.

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Georgia, famous for its endless rounds of heartfelt toasts that can run into the wee hours of the morning, just unseated Iran as the home of the first wine produced from the Eurasian grape, popular with millions of wine-lovers around the globe. However, these traces dated back from 5400 to 5000 BC, also in the Neolithic period.

The researchers say this chemical evidence is a snapshot of early human civilisation toward the end of the Stone Age, as it encountered new environments and made the best use of whatever resources found there - which in this case included cultivating the beginnings of all modern wine.

"Our research suggests that one of the primary adaptations of the Neolithic way of life as it spread to Caucasia was viniculture", said Batiuk. "The domestication of the grape apparently led eventually to the emergence of a wine culture in the region".

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, pharmacopeias, cuisines, economics, and society throughout the ancient Near East", he said. Many designs are available.

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