Wine discovered in 4000 BC pottery

By Nichola Murphy
Wednesday, 30 August, 2017

Researchers have discovered the oldest evidence of wine dating back to 4000 BC, according to a study.

Previously, the retrieval of seeds has led us to believe that wine production initially began in Italy in the Middle Bronze Age (1300–1100 BC). However, this research, led by Professor Davide Tanasi from the University of South Florida (USF), suggests that winemaking is a much older phenomenon belonging to the Copper Age. This provides a new perspective on ancient society.

Published in the Microchemical Journal, researchers have conduced chemical analysis on ancient pottery using a spectroscopy method that allows samples to be examined directly in their solid or liquid state, without further preparation.

Tanasi found the residue on the unglazed pottery from Monte Kronio in Agrigento, located off the south-west coast of Sicily, contained tartaric acid and its sodium salt, which occur naturally in grapes and in the winemaking process.

Determining the composition of this residue is very rare and difficult to achieve as it requires the ancient pottery to be excavated intact. Therefore, the findings on the large storage jar are significant, and researchers are now trying to determine whether the wine was red or white.

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