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Original article:

Ronan McGreevy Thu, Mar 22, 2018

Irishtimes.com

Note: Not much in the way of food-stuffs mentioned, but there was an oven discovered so with more excavation…hope they find seeds or pottery made for cooking.

Terrace of houses from 11th century reveals treasure trove of  artifacts.

 

An archaeologist has described the discovery of a well-preserved Viking-era terrace in Dublin as an “extraordinary find”.

The four adjacent Hiberno-Norse properties with gardens and cobbled stones dating from the around the 11th century were found during excavations for a hotel development in Dublin.

The site in Dean Street is owned by the Hodson Bay Group who plan to open a 234-room hotel in the Coombe area next year.

Further excavations found two other settlements from a later period. One dating from the 13th to the 14th century had evidence of industrial activity including a tanning pit and two lime pits.

Vaulted cellars

The upper level dating from the 17th century revealed ovens, vaulted cellars, kilns and cobbled working areas.

The site has been waterlogged for almost the last millennium. As a consequence organic material, including leather shoes and wooden utensils, have been very well preserved.

Archeologist Aisling Collins, whose team made the find, said they were lucky to make such a discovery.

“It’s incredible. You could work on a site like this all your life and never find anything like this. It’s that significant. The artefacts we have found are very unique,” she said.

Among the objects found in the excavations were a copper alloy, decorated stick pin, a 12th century copper alloy key and worked bone objects. Shards of pottery were found in several locations.

The most significant find was a rare example of graffiti art carved onto a piece of slate depicting a figure on a horse with a shield, sword and two birds present. The slate was found to the rear of one of the houses which was made from wattle.

Industrial activity

There was evidence of industrial activity with the presence of a tanning pit, lots of animal horn and two lime pits.

To the north of the site was a stone built medieval well with steps leading down to the water. There were two medieval wall foundations also present.

Another layer led to the discovery of a copper alloy merchant’s weighing scales, a 13th-14th silver King Edward coin and medieval pottery – mostly local and some imported. Medieval floor tiles were discovered with very unusual ceramic bird that looks like a dove.

Hudson Bay director Johnny O’Sullivan said the company intends to incorporate elements of the discovery into the design of the hotel and to keep a section of the site for preservation.

“So many corporate hotels are bland, but we are delighted to have such a compelling story to tell,” he said.

The site has been cleared and the artefacts are now in storage. They will eventually be given to the National Museum of Ireland for cataloguing and preserving.

 

 

 

 

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hArchaeological Service of the Canton of Bern

Original article:

Food and wine.com

How and when wheat and other grains became domesticated has long been a mystery.
JILLIAN KRAMER July 28, 2017

It’s not exactly difficult to get grains these days. You can add them to your cart at the grocery store and have oats, cereal, or rice in your house in just a matter of minutes. It wasn’t always that easy; the domestication of wheat-bearing plants was a huge and somewhat mysterious step for the human race. And thanks to a discovery by a team of archeologists, we’re starting to understand just when and where the exploitation (which is to say, human cultivation and use) of some grains occurred.
Archeologists from the University of York set out to the Swiss Alps on a dig, where they discovered a Bronze Age wooden container lodged in an ice patch some 8,600 feet up a mountain. Thinking the container was for some kind of porridge, the team was surprised to find lipid-based biomarkers for whole wheat or rye grain—called alkylresorcinols—in place of the milk residue they had expected to find. But that residue, they say, could help other archeologists trace the development of early grain farming in Eurasia

Here’s why this discovery is such a big deal: plants are all-but-impossible to find in archeological deposits because they degrade so quickly. A deposit like this one, the archeologists say, is really the first of its kind to be found and recorded.

“This is an extraordinary discovery, if you consider that of all domesticated plants, wheat is the most widely grown crop in the world,” University of York archeologist André Colonese said in a statement, “and the most important food grain source for humans, lying at the core of many contemporary culinary traditions.” Next, Colonese said, the team will search for lipid-based grain biomarkers in ceramic artifacts.
In the meantime, here’s what the discovery already tells the team: “Strong evidence that cereals were being transported across this [Swiss] alpine pass,” Jessica Hendy, from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, said in a statement.

As they make additional, similar discoveries, the archeologists should also be able to glean “when and where this food crop spread through Europe,” Hendy said

 

 

 

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“They’ll definitely be tasted, but we’re taking our time.” BY VITTORIA TRAVERSO FEBRUARY 16, 2018

Original Article:

atlasobscura.com

These champagne bottles were last seen 118 years ago. Michael Boudot/Champagne Pol Roger

At the beginning of 1900, French wine-making brothers Maurice and Georges Roger had an estimated 1.5 million champagne bottles and 500 casks of other wine safely stored in the cellar below their family estate in Épernay, in northern France. But during a particularly damp February that year, part of the estate collapsed—right into the cellar, trapping the precious bottles under 80 feet of dirt and debris. Worried that attempting to dig survivors out would cause more damage to the estate, the brothers left them there.

So it was with great surprise that last month, 118 years after the collapse, the Roger family, which still makes champagne there, discovered a new passage into the long-lost cellar during the construction of a nearby packing facility. “In a moment of euphoria we decided to enlarge the passage and after further digging we found some fully preserved bottles,” Damien Cambres, deputy cellar manager at Pol Roger, told French news site franceinfo.

Bad weather conditions led to the collapse of part of the Roger estate in February 1900.
Bad weather conditions led to the collapse of part of the Roger estate in February 1900. Champagne Pol Roger

The bottles are estimated to date to the years between 1887 and 1898, according to a statement issued by the company. Because they have not been exposed to sunlight, and have been at a constant temperature, they may still be drinkable. “We will find a lot of roundness and freshness, because there has been no alteration of acidity,” Dominique Petit, the outgoing cellar master at Pol Roger, told franceinfo. “And some notes of maturity and grilled aromas.”

This would not be the first time that experts get to taste 19th-century wine. The record for oldest champagne tasted goes to a 1825 Perrier-Jouet opened in 2009. “Although there was only a hint of bubbles left, it was perfectly fresh, the color was fine and it resembled a very great chablis, with a note of white truffles and chocolate,” wine expert Olivier Cavil told U.K. daily The Times.

Further excavations of the Pol Roger cellar have now stopped due to weather conditions, but the company plans to dig further. “We found one bottle the first day, then five or six the next day, then we had 19, then we stopped,” CEO Laurent d’Harcourt told Wine Spectator. “They’ll definitely be tasted, but we’re taking our time.

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Strategic flicking was the name of this game, known as kottabos. BY JIM CLARKE FEBRUARY 19, 2018

Original Article:

atlasobscura.com

Spilling red wine may be the ultimate party foul, especially if it lands on the host’s couch or carpet. But for the ancient Greeks, a party wasn’t good unless the wine flowed freely. The Greeks didn’t just fling their glasses of wine about willy-nilly, though. This game of wine-slinging—known as kottabos—had a discernible target, and both pride and prizes were on the line.

Kottabos had two iterations. The preferred way to play, which is the iteration often depicted in plays and especially on pieces of pottery, involved a pole. Players would balance a small bronze disk, called a plastinx, on top of it. The goal was to flick dregs of one’s wine at the plastinx so that it would fall, making a clattering crash as it hit the manes, a metal plate or domed pan that lay roughly two-thirds down the pole. The competitors reclined on their couches, arranged in a square or circle around the pole a couple of yards away. Each then took turns launching their wine from their kylix, a shallow, circular vessel with a looping handle on each side.

A less common version of the game featured players aiming at a number of small bowls, which floated in water within a larger basin. In this case, the object of the game was to sink as many of the small bowls as possible with the same arcing shots. Since it lacked the resounding clang of the plastinx striking the manes, this version of kottabos has been regarded as the quieter, more civilized way to play.

Technique was essential to maintain elegant form, accuracy, and to avoid spilling on oneself. The player, sprawling on a drinking couch and propped up on their left elbow, placed two fingers through the loop of one handle and cast the wine dregs in a high arc toward the target. The technique has been likened to the motion of throwing a javelin, due to the way the player threaded their fingers through the handle the same way one held the leather strap used to throw the spear.

A woman plays kottabos, and holds the kylix in her hand.
A woman plays kottabos, and holds the kylix in her hand. Public Domain

Critias, the 5th century academic and writer, wrote about this “glorious invention” stemming from Sicily, “where we put up a target to shoot at with drops from our wine-cup whenever we drink it.” While a handful of modern academics question the game’s Sicilian origins, kottabos definitely spread throughout parts of Italy (as the Etruscans played it) and Greece, too. The kottabos craze even resulted in industrious people building special round rooms where it could be played, so all competitors could be equidistant from the target.

Naturally, kottabos made a frequent appearance at drinking parties known as symposia. But a few years ago, Dr. Heather Sharpe, the Associate Professor of Art History at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, brought the game into a sphere that’s perhaps more evocative of how we use the word “symposium” today: academia. Having seen the game portrayed in so many of the pots they were studying, she and her students decided to play a few rounds of kottabos using kylixes that a colleague, Andrew Snyder, made for them using a 3-D printer.

Doing the kottabos recline.
Doing the kottabos recline. W. Klein / Public Domain

Since they were on campus, Dr. Sharpe and her students used diluted grape juice rather than wine. “Within about half an hour there was diluted grape juice everywhere, which made me realize it must have gotten pretty messy,” she says. “You’re aiming at the target, but the funny thing is these symposia were typically held in a more-or-less square room, and you had participants on 3 ½ sides. So if you missed the target it wouldn’t have been surprising if you hit someone across the room.”

Emily Moore and Mara Jean O’Hara, two West Chester University students, play kottabos in Dr. Sharpe’s class. Dr. Heather Sharpe

The recreation also proved that the temptation to take a shot at a rival across the room must have been strong. In fact, in Aeschylus’s play Ostologoi (The Bone Collectors), Odysseus describes how during a game of kottabos, Eurymachus, one of Penelope’s suitors, repeatedly aimed his wine at Odysseus’s head, rather than at the plastinx, to humiliate him. And it seems that players took the game seriously, too, in spite of their casual reclining poses. “It’s funny because they did seem to be pretty competitive about this,” says Dr. Sharpe. “The Greeks, in a strange way, loved competing against each other, whether in the symposium or out in the gymnasium.”

Nonetheless, these were not high stakes contests. A winner might typically receive a sweet as a prize. Playing for kisses or other favors from attending courtesans (hetairai, as they were called) was also a possibility. Vases portraying kottabos reveal that women played the game as hetairai, too.

But eroticism didn’t just stop at prizes. It was customary to dedicate one’s throw to a lover, with the implication that success at kottabos augured success in one’s love life. Others didn’t mince words. In one poem, Cratinus recalls a hetaira dedicating her shot to the Corinthian male organ: “It would kill her to drink wine with water in it. Instead she drinks down two pitchers of strong stuff, mixed one-to-one, and she calls out his name and tosses her wine lees from her ankule [kylix] in honor of the Corinthian dick.”

It seems that kottabos’s free-wheeling nature and prizes weren’t enough to sustain it as a game, though. It eventually disappeared from artwork and plays, which suggests that it faded from popularity in the 4th century BC. The experiments of Dr. Sharpe and others aside, it seems unlikely to see a revival. Part of that might be due to how difficult it is to play, which doesn’t get any easier after players have had more than a few glasses of wine. The inevitable cleanup afterwards is a deterrent, too.

Just ask Hugh Johnson, the wine expert and author, who once tried his hand at the game. “I have had a kottabos stand made, and practiced assiduously,” Johnson recalls in The Story of Wine. “From personal experience I can say it is not all easy … and it makes a terrible mess on the floor.”

 

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Original article:

heritagedaily.com
Devon farmers who made their home in the same remote location for 1,200 years had a taste for exotic imported food and drink, archaeologists have found.

There was a thriving settlement in Ipplepen, South Devon, for hundreds of years longer than previously thought, excavations have shown.
It was originally thought that people only lived on the site during the Roman period, but radiocarbon analysis now shows the settlement was founded in the middle of the pre-Roman Iron Age – the 4th century BC. It was only finally abandoned in the 8th century AD, possibly because of the foundation of Ipplepen village nearby.
The radiocarbon analysis was of burials and charcoal found by University of Exeter archaeologists in 2015-16. They have been excavating different parts of the area during the past few years and have been digging again this month.
The team is again working with the local community to discover more about the site. They are joined by ten members of the local community who are helping them to excavate the area thanks to generous support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
In previous years the excavations have revealed where people lived, and where they buried their dead, but excavations this year have given clues as to how they were making a living. The remains of a granary suggests it may have been used to store grain produced though farming the surrounding fields, while debris from iron working shows that there was also industrial production.
Roman pottery, some if it imported from France and the Mediterranean, shows this was a community with a taste for exotic food and drink.
Professor Stephen Rippon of the University of Exeter said: “When we started excavating we thought that the site was only used during the Roman period, but the appliance of science has shown that it was occupied for well over a thousand years. Our excavations have given us further insight into how people made a living too.
“It is wonderful that the local community are able to share in the excitement of what we are finding and Heritage Lottery Funding for their training has made this possible.”
The public can visit the site on Sunday 25 June when there will be guided tours and the opportunity to see the latest finds. There will also be the chance to learn about Roman coins with leading coin expert Dr Sam Moorhead from the British Museum, and stalls run by Devon County Council’s Historic Environment team and Torquay Museum. There will also be activities for children, including the chance to meet a Roman thanks to re-enactment group the Isca Romans. There will also be Egyptian food available and the Ipplepen Carnival Club will be running a refreshment marquee.
Devon archaeologist Danielle Wootton, who is working at the site, said “Last year, we welcomed 1,200 visitors in just six hours and it was great to see the public so interested in this important archaeological site on their doorstep. We look forward to welcoming everyone again this year.”
Dr Chris Smart of the University of Exeter said: “We are so excited to be able to show everyone the hidden past of Ipplepen. The generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund will enable us to help the community to record some of the most important archaeological and historic sites within the region and this will be of huge benefit to future generations.”
The Ipplepen Archaeological Project team have also undertaken a series of workshops in local schools. Before the excavation began this year, Danielle Wootton and Chris Smart visited several schools including Ipplepen Primary School, Abbotskerswell Primary School, and Sands Secondary School in Ashburton, to talk about the history of the site and what has been found there. Groups from all the schools are now visiting the site to work with archaeologists, students and volunteers. This has so far included building a roundhouse wall, designing a Roman coin, and learning to identify different types of pottery.
University of Exeter

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Note: A reader brought this article to my attention, and although ” the oldest wine” belongs to my previous post this is an incredible find. 

I just discovered I posted an article about this discovery last October, but this gives more detail.

JLP

 

A view of Monte Kronio today. Gianni Polizzi, 2018, CC BY-ND

 

the conversation.com

By Davide Tanasi

Monte Kronio rises 1,300 feet above the geothermally active landscape of southwestern Sicily. Hidden in its bowels is a labyrinthine system of caves, filled with hot sulfuric vapors. At lower levels, these caves average 99 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 percent humidity. Human sweat cannot evaporate and heat stroke can result in less than 20 minutes of exposure to these underground conditions.
Nonetheless, people have been visiting the caves of Monte Kronio since as far back as 8,000 years ago. They’ve left behind vessels from the Copper Age (early sixth to early third millennium B.C.) as well as various sizes of ceramic storage jars, jugs and basins. In the deepest cavities of the mountain these artifacts sometimes lie with human skeletons.

Archaeologists debate what unknown religious practices these artifacts might be evidence of. Did worshipers sacrifice their lives bringing offerings to placate a mysterious deity who puffed gasses inside Monte Kronio? Or did these people bury high-ranking individuals in that special place, close to what was probably considered a source of magical power?
One of the most puzzling of questions around this prehistoric site has been what those vessels contained. What substance was so precious it might mollify a deity or properly accompany dead chiefs and warriors on their trip to the underworld?
Using tiny samples, scraped from these ancient artifacts, my recent analysis came up with a surprising answer: wine. And that discovery has big implications for the story archaeologists tell about the people who lived in this time and place.

Analyzing scraping samples:

In November 2012, a team of expert geographers and speleologists ventured once again into the dangerous underground complex of Monte Kronio. They escorted archaeologists from the Superintendence of Agrigento down more than 300 feet to document artifacts and to take samples. The scientists scraped the inner walls of five ceramic vessels, removing about 100 mg (0.0035 ounces) of powder from each.
I led an international team of scholars, which hoped analyzing this dark brown residue could shed some light on what these Copper Age containers from Monte Kronio originally carried. Our plan was to use cutting-edge chemical techniques to characterize the organic residue.
We decided to use three different approaches. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) would be able to tell us the physical and chemical properties of the atoms and molecules present. We turned to scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (SEM/EDX) and the attenuated total reflectance Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (ATR FT-IR) for the elemental analysis – the chemical characterization of the samples.

These analysis methods are destructive: The sample gets used up when we run the tests. Since we had just that precious 100 mg of powder from each vessel, we needed to be extremely careful as we prepared the samples. If we messed up the analysis, we couldn’t just run it all over again.

We found that four of the five Copper Age large storage jars contained an organic residue. Two contained animal fats and another held plant residues, thanks to what we inferred was a semi-liquid kind of stew partially absorbed by the walls of the jars. But the fourth jar held the greatest surprise: pure grape wine from 5,000 years ago.
Presence of wine implies much more
Initially I did not fully grasp the import of such a discovery. It was only when I vetted the scientific literature on alcoholic beverages in prehistory that I realized the Monte Kronio samples represented the oldest wine known so far for Europe and the Mediterranean region. An incredible surprise, considering that the Southern Anatolia and Transcaucasian region were traditionally believed to be the cradle of grape domestication and early viticulture. At the end of 2017, research similar to ours using Neolithic ceramic samples from Georgia pushed back the discovery of trace of pure grape wine even further, to 6,000-5,800 B.C.
This idea of the “oldest wine” conveyed in news headlines captured the public’s attention when we first published our results.
But what the media failed to convey are the tremendous historical implications that such a discovery has for how archaeologists understand Copper Age Sicilian cultures.

From an economic standpoint, the evidence of wine implies that people at this time and place were cultivating grapevines. Viticulture requires specific terrains, climates and irrigation systems. Archaeologists hadn’t, up to this point, included all these agricultural strategies in their theories about settlement patterns in these Copper Age Sicilian communities. It looks like researchers need to more deeply consider ways these people might have transformed the landscapes where they lived.
The discovery of wine from this time period has an even bigger impact on what archaeologists thought we knew about commerce and the trade of goods across the whole Mediterranean at this time. For instance, Sicily completely lacks metal ores. But the discovery of little copper artifacts – things like daggers, chisels and pins had been found at several sites – shows that Sicilians somehow developed metallurgy by the Copper Age.
The traditional explanation has been that Sicily engaged in an embryonic commercial relationship with people in the Aegean, especially with the northwestern regions of the Peloponnese. But that doesn’t really make a lot of sense because the Sicilian communities didn’t have much of anything to offer in exchange for the metals. The lure of wine, though, might have been what brought the Aegeans to Sicily, especially if other settlements hadn’t come this far in viticulture yet.
Ultimately, the discovery of wine remnants near gaseous crevices deep inside Monte Kronio adds more support to the hypothesis that the mountain was a sort of prehistoric sanctuary where purification or oracular practices were carried out, taking advantage of the cleansing and intoxicating features of sulfur.
Wine has been known as a magical substance since its appearances in Homeric tales. As red as blood, it had the unique power to bring euphoria and an altered state of consciousness and perception. Mixed with the incredible physical stress due to the hot and humid environment, it’s easy to imagine the descent into the darkness of Monte Kronio as a transcendent journey toward the gods. The trek likely ended with death for the weak, maybe with the conviction of immortality for the survivors.
And all of this was written in the grains of 100 milligrams of 6,000-year-old powder.

 

 

 

 

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Original Article:

heritagedaily.com

Excavations in the Republic of Georgia by the Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE), a joint undertaking between the University of Toronto (U of T) and the Georgian National Museum, have uncovered evidence of the earliest winemaking anywhere in the world.

THIS IS A DRONE PHOTOGRAPH OF EXCAVATIONS AT GADACHRILI GORA SITE IN REPUBILC OF GEORGIA.
Photo by Stephen Batiuk

 

Excavations in the Republic of Georgia by the Gadachrili Gora Regional Archaeological Project Expedition (GRAPE), a joint undertaking between the University of Toronto (U of T) and the Georgian National Museum, have uncovered evidence of the earliest winemaking anywhere in the world.
The discovery dates the origin of the practice to the Neolithic period around 6000 BC, pushing it back 600-1,000 years from the previously accepted date.
The earliest previously known chemical evidence of wine dated to 5400-5000 BC and was from an area in the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Researchers now say the practice began hundreds of years earlier in the South Caucasus region on the border of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.
Excavations have focused on two Early Ceramic Neolithic sites (6000-4500 BC) called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, approximately 50 kilometres south of the modern capital of Tbilisi. Pottery fragments of ceramic jars recovered from the sites were collected and subsequently analyzed by scientists at the University of Pennsylvania to ascertain the nature of the residue preserved inside for several millennia.
The newest methods of chemical extraction confirmed tartaric acid, the fingerprint compound for grape and wine as well as three associated organic acids – malic, succinic and citric – in the residue recovered from eight large jars. The findings are reported in a research study this week in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
“We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine solely for the production of wine,” said Stephen Batiuk, a senior research associate in the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and the Archaeology Centre at U of T, and co-author of the study published in PNAS.
“The domesticated version of the fruit has more than 10,000 varieties of table and wine grapes worldwide,” said Batiuk. “Georgia is home to over 500 varieties for wine alone, suggesting that grapes have been domesticated and cross-breeding in the region for a very long time.”
GRAPE represents the Canadian component of a larger international, interdisciplinary project involving researchers from the United States, Denmark, France, Italy and Israel. The sites excavated by the U of T and Georgian National Museum team are remnants of two villages that date back to the Neolithic period, which began around 15,200 BC in parts of the Middle East and ended between 4500 and 2000 BC in other parts of the world.
The Neolithic period is characterized by a package of activities that include the beginning of farming, the domestication of animals, the development of crafts such as pottery and weaving, and the making of polished stone tools.
“Pottery, which was ideal for processing, serving and storing fermented beverages, was invented in this period together with many advances in art, technology and cuisine,” said Batiuk. “This methodology for identifying wine residues in pottery was initially developed and first tested on a vessel from the site of Godin Tepe in central western Iran, excavated more than 40 years ago by a team from the Royal Ontario Museum led by fellow U of T researcher T. Cuyler Young. So in many ways, this discovery brings my co-director Andrew Graham and I full circle back to the work of our professor Cuyler, who also provided some of the fundamental theories of the origins of agriculture in the Near East.
“In essence, what we are examining is how the Neolithic package of agricultural activity, tool-making and crafts that developed further south in modern Iraq, Syria and Turkey adapted as it was introduced into different regions with different climate and plant life,” Batiuk said. “The horticultural potential of the south Caucasus was bound to lead to the domestication of many new and different species, and innovative ‘secondary’ products were bound to emerge.”
The researchers say the combined archaeological, chemical, botanical, climatic and radiocarbon data provided by the analysis demonstrate that the Eurasian grapevine Vitis vinifera was abundant around the sites. It grew under ideal environmental conditions in early Neolithic times, similar to premium wine-producing regions in Italy and southern France today.
“Our research suggests that one of the primary adaptations of the Neolithic way of life as it spread to Caucasia was viniculture,” says Batiuk. “The domestication of the grape apparently led eventually led to the emergence of a wine culture in the region.”
Batiuk describes an ancient society in which the drinking and offering of wine penetrates and permeates nearly every aspect of life from medical practice to special celebrations, from birth to death, to everyday meals at which toasting is common.
“As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopeias, cuisines, economics, and society throughout the ancient Near East,” he said.
Batiuk cites ancient viniculture as a prime example of human ingenuity in developing horticulture, and creative uses for its byproducts.
“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,” he said. “The Eurasian gravepine that now accounts for 99.9 per cent of wine made in the world today, has its roots in Caucasia.”

 

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