Archeology Culture

World’s Earliest Known Winery Of 6,000 Years Found In Armenian Cave

World's Earliest Known Winery Of 6,000 Years Found In Armenian Cave

“[I]t is the wine that leads me on,
the wild wine
that sets the wisest man to sing
at the top of his lungs,
laugh like a fool – it drives the
man to dancing… it even
tempts him to blurt out stories
better never told.”
― Homer, The Odyssey 

Wines have always been used and consumed by ancient men. However, not much of evidence was available till date. But, now the archaeologist and researchers have managed to find the earliest known winery.

Pictorial brick depicting the making of wine. Eastern Han Dynasty (A.D. 25 - 220)

 Where is it located?

The site is located in close vicinity to the village of Areni. It is this very cave, where a well preserved moccasin (very much like a leather sleeper) 5,500 year old was found by the archaeologists. And, now they have excavated a wine press.

  • It was the year 2007, when the first prehistoric wine making equipment was detected. This excavation was co-directed by Areshian and Armenian archaeologist Boris Gasparyan, at the Areni-1 complex.
  • In the year 2010, the excavation of a vat (2 foot deep) was completed, which was buried in close proximity to a 3.5 foot long basin.

What do the installations indicate of the wine making process?

  • The installation indicates that the vintners pursued the making of wine in the old-fashioned way, by using their feet.
  • Then, this juice received from the trampled grapes was drained into the vat.
  • It was left in the vat to ferment.
  • Later the wine was stored in the jars.
  • Since, the caves have been cold and dry; they ensured the perfect character for the storage of wines in jars.
The archaeological site of Areni-1 is still being excavated in 2012. It sits in an elevated position above Areni village, with swallow nests on the ceiling of the wide entrance. (Image Source)

Testing

It was pertinent to find, whether the vat and jars in the Armenian cave had wine or not. This was pursued by chemical analysis of pottery shards.

  • The chemical tests revealed traces of malvidin, which is the plant pigment responsible for the color of the red wine.
  • There has also been found the presence of tartaric acid-a chemical indicator of grapes.

Backed by DNA studies

There have been previous DNA studies of cultivated grape varieties. It was these studies which indicated the mountains of Armenia, Georgia and neighboring countries as the birthplace of viticulture. The recent discovery of the winery has been further backed by the same DNA studies.

Rituals

The drinking culture back then probably involved ceremonies in honor of the dead, in accordance with the UCLA’s Arsheian.  It is because in accordance with the excavation 20 burials have been identified, around the installation. And again, there have been found drinking cups inside and around the graves.

The significance of the discovery

In accordance with the study, the process of winemaking is being witnessed as a distinguished social and technological innovation amidst the prehistoric societies. In fact, the growing of vines has indicated the onset of a new form of agriculture.

It implies that they learnt and understood novel cycles of growth of the plant.  The amount of water needed for the plant, the method to prevent fungi from damaging the harvest and the ways to deal with flies that preyed on grapes was ensured back then. In fact, the site has also given an insight into the starting phase of horticulture.

So, indeed immense has been found considering the discovery of the winery.

World’s Earliest Known Winery Of 6,000 Years Found In Armenian Cave
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