3,700 Year Old Wine Cellar Discovered in Israel

Another recent and fascinating discovery in Near Eastern archaeology! Check out the article below:

“Archaeologists digging at the archaeological site of Tel Kabri, near Nahariya in northern Israel, have discovered what they believe is the oldest and largest wine cellar in the Near East.


The cellar was unearthed in the ruined palace of the rulers of Tel Kabri, the capital of a Middle Bronze Age Canaanite kingdom (1,700 BC).

As archaeologists excavated in the palace, they uncovered a 3-foot-long jug, later dubbed Bessie. “We dug and dug, and all of a sudden, Bessie’s friends started appearing – five, 10, 15, ultimately 40 jars packed in a 15-by-25-foot storage room. This is a hugely significant discovery – it’s a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in its age and size,” explained excavations co-director Dr Eric Cline of the George Washington University.

The 40 Canaanite storage jars have a capacity of roughly 2,000 liters, meaning the cellar could have held the equivalent of nearly 3,000 bottles of reds and whites.“The wine cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine,” said excavations co-director Dr Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa.

“The wine cellar and the banquet hall were destroyed during the same violent event, perhaps an earthquake, which covered them with thick debris of mud bricks and plaster.”


It wasn’t immediately clear it was wine the jugs once held. The scientists analyzed the jar fragments using organic residue analysis. They found molecular traces of tartaric and syringic acid, both key components in wine, as well as compounds suggesting ingredients popular in ancient wine-making, including honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins. The recipe is similar to medicinal wines used in ancient Egypt for 2,000 years. They also analyzed the proportions of each diagnostic compound and discovered remarkable consistency between jars.

“This wasn’t moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements. This wine’s recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar,” said excavations associate director Dr Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, who reported the discovery today at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

The archaeologists now want to continue analyzing the composition of each solution, possibly discovering enough information to recreate the flavor.”

Read the full article here.


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