Oldest ev­i­dence of wine­mak­ing found in Ge­or­gia

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - World -

Raise a glass to Ge­or­gia, which could now be the birth­place of wine.

The coun­try, which strad­dles the fer­tile val­leys of the south Cau­ca­sus Moun­tains be­tween Europe and the Mid­dle East, may have been home to the first hu­mans to con­quer the com­mon grape, giv­ing rise to chardon­nay, caber­net sau­vi­gnon, and thou­sands of other reds and whites we en­joy to­day.

In a study pub­lished on Mon­day, re­searchers found wine residue on pot­tery shards from two ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites in Ge­or­gia dat­ing to 6000 BC. The find­ings are the ear­li­est ev­i­dence so far of wine made from the Eurasian grape, which is used in nearly all wine pro­duced world­wide.

“Talk about ag­ing of wine. Here we have an 8,000-yearold vin­tage that we’ve iden­ti­fied,” said Pa­trick McGovern, a molec­u­lar ar­chae­ol­o­gist from the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Mu­seum of Ar­chae­ol­ogy and An­thro­pol­ogy and lead au­thor of the study in the jour­nal Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences.

The find­ings push back the pre­vi­ous date for the oldest ev­i­dence of wine­mak­ing by about 600 to 1,000 years, pre­vi­ously iden­ti­fied in Iran.

“Ge­or­gia had al­ways sus­pected it had a Ne­olithic wine,” said David Lord­kipanidze, the gen­eral di­rec­tor of the Ge­or­gian Na­tional Mu­seum and an au­thor on the pa­per. “But now there is real ev­i­dence.”

To un­cork the mys­tery of the oldest wine, McGovern and his team searched the re­mains of two vil­lages from the Ne­olithic era. Clay ves­sels found at these Ne­olithic sites and oth­ers in Ge­or­gia sug­gest the peo­ple most likely stored their wine in large, round jars as big as 300 liters.

The team re­trieved sev­eral jar shards from the sites, which they chem­i­cally an­a­lysed. To their sur­prise, eight had signs of wine residue long ab­sorbed into the pot­tery.

Ra­dio­car­bon dat­ing of the site dated the jar shards to 6000 to 5800 BC. The team also found traces of an­cient grape pollen, starch from grape wine and re­mains from Ne­olithic fruit flies. They did not find any DNA or pig­ments on the residue so they could not say whether it was red or white wine. NYT



Shards of pot­tery from 8,000­yearold jars un­earthed near the Ge­or­gian cap­i­tal, Tbil­isi.

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