World’s oldest wine cellar suggests ancient bacchanalia

World’s oldest wine cellar suggests ancient bacchanalia


© Eric H. Cline, George Washington University

About a year ago in Upper Galilee, archaeologists uncovered world’s oldest known wine cellar in the ruins of a palatial compound. Everything began with the discovery of a 3-foot-tall jar, which the excavators nicknamed “Bessie.” But “Bessie” alone was hardly headline-worthy — a tip of the iceberg, so to say. The site eventually revealed 39 more jars within the same room, approximately 16 feet by 26 feet large. Such a high concentration of jars in a single small room, located adjacent to a banquet hall, suggested a kind of wine cellar. Now that the archaeologists have further examined the ruins, this hypothesis seems quite plausible. As a matter of fact, this August 27th, 2014, the researchers have published the results of their study in the journal PLOS ONE. Their chemical analysis concluded that the jars had traces of biomarkers of wine and herbal ingredients, such as mint, cinnamon and juniper. According to Andrew Koh, an archaeologist at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, the amount of wine the cellar would have stored is indeed large, but not enough for commercial redistribution. The wine was most likely stored for throwing large parties, within a close-knit local group.

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