Evidence of 'World's Oldest' Grape Wine Dug Up in Georgia

Ceramic pottery fragments from two sites about 30 miles south of the Georgian capital Tbilisi contained residues that yielded chemical signatures of grapes and wine

Ceramic pottery fragments from two sites about 30 miles south of the Georgian capital Tbilisi contained residues that yielded chemical signatures of grapes and wine

Per a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archaeologists found 8,000-year-old pottery shards in the nation of Georgia indicating wine was once made there in earthenware jars, the earliest evidence ever of grape-based wine production. A team of researchers digging in Georgia has found that origin of the practice could be around 6000 BC, 600-1,000 years earlier than what was determined earlier.

He explained, "Wine is central to civilization as we know it in the West".

Eight large ceramic jars were found to have residual wine compounds, researchers said.

Neolithic pottery shards were found to contain grape wine residue from 6000-5800 B.C., nearly 1,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Analysis of pottery fragments revealed traces of substances such as tartaric acid, a chemical fingerprint of grapes. The find in Georgia dates to about 6,000 BC, the researchers said. In addition, the organic acids malic, succinic, and citric were found. The inside of the jars, dating back as far as 5,980 BC, were coated with chemical traces of wine. One of the most important crafts was pottery, which enabled the fermentation and storage of wine.

'We've re-excavated sites at Shulaveris Gora and Gadachrili Gora, taking much more care with the samples than was formerly possible'.

"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, co-author of the study from the University of Toronto. 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.

Georgia, using the same Eurasian grape variety, Vitis vinifera, remains a major wine-growing region today.

Some of these jars were pretty big - a comparable jar uncovered in a nearby site holds 300 litres (79 gallons), which could have held the contents of 400 wine bottles today.

"The Eurasian grapevine that now accounts for 99.9 percent of the wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia", Batiuk said.

'We're really just trying to work out where the first domestication occurred, and Georgia is right in the centre of it all, ' said McGovern, who is scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia.

Their results, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S., "provide the earliest biomolecular archaeological evidence for grape wine and viniculture from the Near East, at ca".

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