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World's Oldest Wine: Ancient Jars In Georgia Hold Evidence Of 8,000-Year-Old Winemaking

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Humans have been fermenting wine and storing them in jugs as early as 6,000 B.C. Researchers have found chemical evidence showing that wine has 8,000-year-old roots, pushing the age of the popular fermented drink 600 to 1,000 years older than the previous oldest estimates.

Ancient Pottery Jars In Georgia

In a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ancient wine expert Patrick McGovern, from the University of Pennsylvania Museum, and colleagues conducted an analysis of pottery jars that were found in two very old archaeological sites in the Eurasian country of Georgia. The massive jars date back to the early Neolithic period.

The ancient people of Georgia may have stored 300 liters of wine in the massive jars measuring about three feet tall with small clay bumps that are clustered around the rim. The researchers said that the decorations possibly represent grapes. One of the ancient jars also feature a design of what appears like a celebration of wine: dancing people under a trellis grapevine.

The oldest of the jars was dated at about 8,000 years old, which makes it the earliest artifact showing humans consuming juice from the Eurasian grapes.

Analysis of pottery fragments revealed traces of substances such as tartaric acid, a chemical fingerprint of grapes. Researchers said that tartaric acid indicates the presence of wine or a grape product.

Researchers also found other evidences that support the presence of wine, and these include the ancient grape pollen that were discovered at the excavated sites but not in the topsoil, grape starch particles, fruit fly remains, and cells that researchers think are from grapevines on the inside of one of the pottery fragments.

"Chemical analyses of ancient organic compounds absorbed into the pottery fabrics from sites in Georgia in the South Caucasus region, dating to the early Neolithic period (ca. 6,000-5,000 BC), provide the earliest biomolecular archaeological evidence for grape wine and viniculture from the Near East, at ca. 6,000-5,800 BC," McGovern and colleagues wrote in their study.

Homes Of The Earliest Wine Makers

The evidences that researchers found suggest that the sites were homes to the earliest known vintners or wine makers

"The Georgians are absolutely ecstatic," said study researcher Stephen Batiuk, an archaeologist from the University of Toronto. "They have been saying for years that they have a very long history of winemaking and so we're really cementing that position."

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