According to a new article published in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of archaeologists have unearthed details of the drinking habits of ancient Israelites following their excavation of what is being called by some “the world’s oldest known wine cellar” in Galilee. Unearthed last summer, the ancient wine cellar was once part of a “palatial” estate in what is now northern Israel.
It is near the borders of Lebanon and Syria and was built next to the compound’s banquet hall. The cellar has walls of mud-bricks while collapsed still preserved approximately 40 wine jars for thousands of years. The investigative team made thorough chemical analyses and learned that herbs such as cinnamon, juniper and mint were regularly blended into the wine.
The researchers studied 32 of the jars. They all contained tartaric acid, a main acid found in wine and some modern energy drinks. They also contained syringic acid, which reveals the wine was red.
They also found cedar and pine resin as well. The former may have come from the wooden beams utilized in pressing their grapes into wine. The latter was added as a preservative.
Andrew Koh, an archaeologist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, told the press: “What we have is quite substantial–40 jars–but it’s not enough to redistribute to the whole countryside, so we’re arguing that this is the personal or palatial wine cellar.”
Koh and his co-workers had been excavating an on-site area n area when they came across a 3-foot-tall wine jar. This was soon followed by their discovery of the wine cellar itself which contained 39 more containers. In total, the jars would have held 528 gallons of wine.
Koh concluded: “It’s for a nuclear kind of in-group, whether it’s the family or clan, and it’s for local, on-the-spot consumption. But it’s still a lot of wine–they must have thrown large parties.”
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