Saturday, 25 November, 2017

Humans have been drinking wine for at least 8000 years

Humans have been drinking wine for at least 8000 years Humans have been drinking wine for at least 8000 years
Stacy Diaz | 14 November, 2017, 19:33

A team of Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE), a joint undertaking between the University of Toronto and the Georgian National Museum found pottery fragments of ceramic jars at two early Ceramic Neolithic sites (6000-4500 BC) called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, almost 50 kilometres south of the modern capital of Tbilisi.

But this heady drop wasn't the wine we know and love today, and incorporated hawthorn fruit, rice, and honey mead, in addition to grapes.

The jars, which the scientists dug up in the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi, contain residue from wine once stored inside.

"The Taurus Mountains of eastern Turkey are also a prime candidate for further exploration with its monumental sites at Gobekli Tepe and Nevali Cori at the headwaters of the Tigris River", dating as far back as 9,500 BC, he said. A team of researchers digging in Georgia has found that origin of the practice could be around 6000 BC, 600-1,000 years earlier than what was determined earlier. This is the time in human history when humans became more sedentary and developing farming and crafts.

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said Stephen Batiuk, co-author of the study from the University of Toronto.

'We've re-excavated sites at Shulaveris Gora and Gadachrili Gora, taking much more care with the samples than was formerly possible'. Georgia is one of the ideal environments for such undertakings, as it hosts about 500 species and varieties of grapes used only for wine, together with many others cultivated for fruits. "The domestication of the grape apparently led eventually to the emergence of a wine culture in the region".

From their combination of archaeological, chemical, botanical, climatic, and radiocarbon data, the researchers concluded that the Eurasian grapevine Vitis vinifera was very abundant around the village excavation sites.

Some of these jars were pretty big - a comparable jar uncovered in a nearby site holds 300 litres (79 gallons), which could have held the contents of 400 wine bottles today. Researchers at Washington University, US revealed that women who consumed more than five servings of red wine a month enjoyed higher ovarian reserve - a measure of a woman's reproductive health.

"The infinite range of flavors and aromas of today's 8,000-10,000 grape varieties are the end result of the domesticated Eurasian grapevine being transplanted and crossed with wild grapevines elsewhere over and over again", said Stephen Batiuk.

Journal reference: Patrick McGovern el al., "Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus", PNAS (2017).