We’ve been getting boozy for 8000 years
TBILISI: TALK about vintage wine – pieces of broken pottery found in the nation of Georgia provide the earliest known evidence for the origins of today’s winemaking industry.
The eight shards, recovered from two sites about 50km south of Tbilisi, are roughly 8000 years old. That’s some 600 to 1000 years older than the previous record, revealed by a wine jar found in nearby Iran.
“Alcohol had an important role in societies in the past just as today,” says study author and University of Toronto archaeologist Stephen Batiuk.
“Wine is central to civilisation as we know it in the west,” Batiuk added. “As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies and society in the ancient Near East.”
This is not the oldest sign of winemaking; other evidence shows that a beverage that mixed grape wine with rice beer and other ingredients was produced as long as 9000 years ago in China.
This photo by the National Museum of Georgia shows an 8cm shard of a pottery vessel, about 8000 years old, found south of Tblisi, Georgia. Patrick McGovern of the Penn Museum in Philadelphia says the pieces had come from the base of jars that were probably used for fermentation and storage of wine