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Original article: Greekreporter.com

June 27, 2021

Prehistoric Greece
Ancient grape seeds confirm that Greeks have been drinking wine for millennia. Credit: Nivet Dilmen, CC BY-SA 3.0

The oldest wine in Europe was discovered recently in ancient Philippi, northern Greece, the Department of History and Archaeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki announced.

The University presented research that indicates that making and drinking wine in Europe originates from prehistoric Greece.

Grecian Delight supports Greece

Thousands of ancient grape seeds and pomace were found in ancient Philippi house whose contents were preserved in a fire that occurred in 4300 B.C.

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Department of Archaeology has been conducting archaeobotanical research for the last twenty years. The research began with the use of archeological flotation, an archaeobotanical sampling technique where an archaeological deposit is placed in a flotation tank with water that dissolves the deposit until fragments of plants and other material float to the top.

Sultana-Maria Valamoti, professor of Prehistoric Archaeology, director of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Research in Archaeology/ EDAE and the PlantCult Laboratory at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Innovation of the AUTH,  said that “These first steps were the starting point that led to today’s findings.

“Thousands of liters of soil have been processed by the method of flotation and a variety of archaeological sites have already been or are being researched archaeobotanically.

“Thanks to the work done at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, this data, often neglected by research, provides a wealth of information on the social and economic organization in northern Greece, the daily activities of people, their farming and agricultural practices, as well as specific symbolic activities from the 7th to the 1st millennium BC” Valamoti added.

University has been researching prehistoric Greece for decades

The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Department of Archeology, who conducted the research and where Valamoti is a professor of prehistoric archaeology, has been at the vanguard of archeological research in Greece.

For years the department was led by George Hourmouziadis, the former Professor Emeritus of prehistoric archaeology, who led excavations in many prehistoric settlements in Thessaly and Macedonia (such as Dimini, Arkadikos and Dramas, etc.)

In 1992 he started the excavation of the neolithic lakeside settlement of Dispilio in Kastoria, Northwestern Greece. A myriad of items were discovered, which included ceramics, structural elements, seeds, bones, figurines, personal ornaments, three flutes (considered the oldest in Europe) and the Dispilio Tablet.

The discovery of the wooden tablet was announced at a symposium in February 1994 at the University of Thessaloniki. The site’s paleoenvironment, botany, fishing techniques, tools and ceramics were published informally in the June 2000 issue of Eptakiklos, a Greek archaeology magazine.

“I speak and I write using the soil as raw material… this soil is not similar to that which we put  in our pots every autumn. It is the soil of a strange garden, a garden where, thousands of years before, people like us, walked on the marks of their toil, anger, and of their rush and calm which they left behind. They left the footprints of their lives,” he noted on the occasion of the publication of his book “Logia kai Coma (Words and Soil).”

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original article: phys.org

By  Trinity College Dublin

10,000-year-old DNA pens the first tales of the earliest domesticated goats
Indentation of several goat hooves in a brick from the archaeological site of Ganj Dareh. Credit: The ‘Tracking Cultural and Environmental Change project’.

New research has revealed the genetic makeup of the earliest goat herds. The findings, assimilated from DNA taken from the remains of 32 goats that died some 10,000 years ago in the Zagros mountains, provide clues to how early agricultural practices shaped the evolution of these animals.

Archaeological evidence has previously pointed to the Zagros Mountains of western Iran as providing the earliest evidence of goat management by humans. Here at the site of Ganj Dareh, the bone remains indicate deliberate slaughtering of male goats once they were fully grown.

In contrast, female goats were allowed to reach older ages, meaning early goat-keepers maximized the number of breeding female animals, similar to herders in the area today.

The close relationship between these early herders and goats can be seen in the very foundations of the settlement, with several bricks bearing the imprint of cloven goat hooves. However, their goats resembled the wild bezoar, with a larger body size and scimitar horn shape.

The international collaboration of researchers behind the study included individuals from Trinity College Dublin, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Copenhagen, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) and Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN) of France, and the National Museum of Iran.

The landmark study has just been published in the international journal PNAS.

Dr. Kevin G Daly, research fellow in Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology and first author of the paper, said: “Our study shows how archaeology and genetics can address highly important questions by building off ideas and results from both fields. Our genetic results point to the Zagros region as being a major source of ancestry of domestic goats and that herded, morphologically wild goats were genetically on the path to domestication by about 10,200 years ago.”

Links to modern goats

Genetic analyses enabled the researchers to determine that the ancient goats fell at the very base of the domestic goat lineage, suggesting that they were closely related to the animals first recruited during domestication.

A surprising find, however, was the discovery of a small number of goats of the 32 whose genomes appeared more like their wild relatives—the bezoar ibex. This strongly suggests these early goat herders continued to hunt goats from wild herds.

Dr. Daly added: “This first livestock keeping shaped the goats’ genomes. There were signs of reduced Y chromosome diversity—fewer males were allowed to breed, leading to an increased tendency of relatives mating. Surprisingly, the Zagros goat appeared to not have undergone a population bottleneck often associated with domestication and lacked strong signals of selection found in later domestic goats.”

Dan Bradley, professor of population genetics at Trinity, said: “Ancient DNA continues to allow us to plumb the depths of ancient prehistory and examine the origins of the world’s first livestock herds. Over 10,000 years ago, early animal farmers were practicing husbandry with a genetic legacy that continues today.”

10,000-year-old DNA pens the first tales of the earliest domesticated goats


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Dr. Sara Halwas, a specialist in ancient plant remains, takes notes while working at the Olson site Dr. Sara Halwas, a specialist in ancient plant remains, takes notes while working at the Olson site along the Gainsborough Creek southwest of Melita, Manitoba on Friday. Dr. Mary Malainey of Brandon University is the project director and principal investigator for a team of archaeologists working at the Olson site until July 28th. Tim Smith/The Brandon Sun

A rare find in southwestern Manitoba – modified bison shoulder blades – may lead to knowledge about a pre-contact agrarian Indigenous society in southwestern Manitoba.

The project was launched after Eric Olson found the objects rising from a creek bed 15 kilometres south of Melita – an hour and a half southwest of Brandon – in 2018.

The objects are hoes.

Brandon University anthropology professor Mary Malainey is leading the project, which began with initial investigations of the site last summer. The archaeological dig taking place this past week and next is a joint effort with the Manitoba Archaeological Society.

“To find bison scapula hoes, it’s really unusual. Complete hoes. Not just possible hoe fragments, in air quotes, but definite. No doubt about it. This is only the second site in Manitoba where we have that,” Malainey said.

The other site is in Lockport, north of Winnipeg.

“That makes it very, very, very special. And the fact that Eric found the hoes after they had eroded out of the creek bank … we have to worry about (that) because the erosion is affecting the site. It’s really important that if we want to get the information, that we act as quickly as possible.”

Malainey figures the 2014 flood brought the hoes to the surface.

Cataloguing more objects and other preserved materials to fill out the story of the Indigenous society that lived and likely gardened in the area is the goal this year. Keeping in mind the hoes found had eroded out of the creek bed — what Malainey calls a secondary context — last year’s investigations were to determine if there was anything left of an original site.

“Are there any intact, undisturbed materials in primary context? The answer was yes. That’s why we’re going back,” she said.

Ultimately, Malainey is looking for proof of a gardening society, which was not found at the Lockport site or other research sites — the smoking gun, as she calls it.

Meanwhile, Amber Flett, past president of the Manitoba Archaeological Society and senior archaeologist with InterGroup Consultants, reached out to the Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council and First Nations in southwestern Manitoba within 150 kilometres of the site.

Flett said she contacted Long Plain First Nation, Dakota Tipi First Nation, Birdtail Sioux Dakota Nation and, nearest to the site, Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation. She sent out initial emails to describe the initial find, as well as the 2019 activities.

“This year, we wanted to invite the First Nations out to see the site and participate if they wanted to dig and such,” Flett said, adding responses were positive.

“The ones we heard back from, we are getting a few people, like Birdtail Sioux, Dakota Tipi and Canupawakpa.”

Flett asked Canupawakpa if it would be interested in doing a blessing ceremony at the site prior to the work starting. Elder Greg Chatkana performed the ceremony Wednesday.

“It’s too soon to say which Indigenous population made and used the hoes,” Malainey said.

“We know that the people who lived in that area probably lived there for about 200 years from the late 1400s to the 1600s or 1700s. We also know that with the fur trade there was a whole lot of movement of people. Because of the incredible displacement and migration that was associated with the fur trade, it’s very difficult to say which ethnic group was in that area.”

She added: “Could they be Siouxan? Yes. Could they be something else, like Algonquian? Yes. But we don’t know.”

Malainey emphasized that the project does not involve Indigenous burial grounds.

“In that area, there are many, many, many burial mounds. We do not want anything to do with the burial mounds. We are looking for that evidence of agriculture. We’re looking for the fields. We’re looking for the storage pits. We’re looking for their houses,” she said.

“We are not going anywhere near the burial mounds. That was really important for us.”

Malainey will have extra help from professional archaeologists who are volunteering. For example, Sara Halwas will collect soil cores from the site. She plans to study the remains of domesticated crops and other plants recovered from them as a post-doctoral research project at the University of Manitoba.

In addition, the surrounding prairie will be examined using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), according to the initial Brandon University news release.

“We hope the GPR survey will help us locate the former village of the pre-contact Indigenous farmers,” Malainey stated.

Flett said she believes this will be a multi-year project.

“Hopefully, it will continue to grow. It’s based on funding.”

This year’s effort were made possible thanks to financial contributions from Manitoba Heritage Grants Program, the Manitoba Archeological Society, Brandon University, and the Canada Summer Jobs program.

Weather permitting, public archaeology activities will be held today, tomorrow, and July 25 and 26, including presentations and site tours.

Those interested are invited to meet the researchers in the grassy plain west of Highway 83, approximately 500 metres north of the junction with 10N on those days at 10 a.m. or noon. For more information, a message for Malainey can be left at malaineym@brandonu.ca or 204-727-9734.

The Brandon Sun is in contact with Chatkana to discuss the possibility of a future story about the archeological project from the First Nation’s perspective.

© Copyright 2020 Battlefords News Optimist

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University of Tübingen archaeologists discover rare evidence of early winemaking at Tell el-Burak in Lebanon


Wine had great importance in the Iron Age Mediterranean. In particular, the Phoenicians – the inhabitants of the central coastal Levant – were considered to have played an important role in the spread and popularity of wine. However, no installation for winemaking was known in their homeland. Now, the first Iron Age wine press in present-day Lebanon has been discovered during excavations at the Phoenician site of Tell el-Burak. Dr. Adriano Orsingher and Professor Jens Kamlah from the Institute of Biblical Archaeology, and Dr. Silvia Amicone and Dr. Christoph Berthold from the Competence Center Archaeometry – Baden-Württemberg (CCA-BW) at the University of Tübingen, together with Professor Hélène Sader from the American University in Beirut, investigated the construction of the 7th century BCE wine press and the building materials used in it. They found that when the Phoenicians built the wine press, they used a plaster mixed from lime and fragments of crushed ceramics. Later, in Roman times, this technique for making a lime-based plaster was further developed. The study has been published in the latest issue of the journal Antiquity.

Since 2001, the site of Tell el-Burak has been excavated by by a joint Lebanese-German mission. The Tell el-Burak Archaeological Project has uncovered the remains of a small Phoenician settlement, inhabited from the late eighth to the middle of the fourth century BCE. It is likely that the settlement was founded by the nearby town of Sidon to supply it with agricultural products. Tell el-Burak was bordered to the southwest and southeast by a 2.5-meter-wide terrace wall. “South of one of these walls we discovered a well-preserved wine press. It had been built on the slope of the hill,” the authors report.

Hardwearing, water-resistant material

Analyses carried out at the Tübingen CCA-BW within the framework of the ResourceCultures collaborative research center (1070) have now provided new data on the composition and technology of the Iron Age plaster of which the wine press was made. “A good-quality lime plaster could be difficult to produce,” say the authors, “The Phoenicians refined the process by using recycled ceramic shards. This made it possible to build better and at the same time more stable buildings.” A local and innovative tradition of lime plaster had developed in southern Phoenicia, they add, “The finished plaster was water-resistant and hardwearing. The Romans adopted this technique for making their buildings.” An ongoing organic residue analysis at the University of Tübingen may determine whether all three plastered structures at Tell el-Burak were connected to wine production. 

Earlier research in Tell el-Burak showed that grapes were cultivated on a large scale in the area surrounding the village. “We assume that wine was produced there on a large scale for several centuries. For the Phoenicians it was very important – they also used wine in religious ceremonies,” say the authors. The earlier discovery of a large number of amphorae – often used to transport liquids and other foodstuffs – indicates that the Phoenicians also traded their wine. “The city of Sidon was on sea trade routes in the eastern Mediterranean. Phoenicians played an important role in the spread of wine in the Mediterranean area, and their tradition of wine consumption was passed on to Europe and North Africa.” So far there has been little evidence of wine production in Phoenicia, the authors said. “This new discovery provides many clues as to how the pioneers of wine produced the drink.”

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First posted Aug 27, 2010
via Abundant food and leisure time: Site tells story of what Hilton Head Island was like 4,000 years ago | islandpacket.com

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On this day ten years ago…
via Digs may throw more light on ancient wine production

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First posted Aug 20, 2010
via A window on the ancient community

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On this day ten years ago…
via An archaeological window on ancient farming

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First posted July 30, 2010
via Ancient Beehives Yield 3,000-Year-Old Bees

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First posted July 28, 2010
via Mesopotamia

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