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photo: Iris

 

Original Article:

the local.dk

New research suggests the Vikings indulged in a bit of viticulture.

Studies of grape pips point to wine production in Denmark during the time of the Vikings.

The Vikings liked alcohol, but while it is easy enough to grow crops and produce beer in the Danish climate, wine is a different challenge and was thought to have always been imported from southern parts of Europe to northern countries.

But new research has showed that at least one of the two oldest grape cores found in Denmark was grown locally, reports science news site Videnskab.dk.

Results of the analysis could be the final piece of evidence needed to prove that wine was produced in Denmark during the Viking era, says the report.

“This is the first discovery and sign of wine production in Denmark, with all that that entails in terms of status and power. We do not know how [the grapes] were used – it may have been just to have a pretty bunch of grapes decorating a table, for example – but it is reasonable to believe that they made wine,” archaeological botanist and museum curator Peter Steen Henriksen of Denmark’s National Museum told Videnskab.dk.

 

Henriksen himself discovered the two centuries-old wine pips in a sample of earth at the site of a Viking settlement at Tissø. Analysis of the pips found one to date from the Viking era and the other from the Iron Age.

No evidence of grapes in Denmark prior to the Middle Ages was previously known.

Henriksen sent the pips to the National Museum, where they underwent strontium isotope tests similar to those that confirmed Danish preserved bodies the Skydstrup girl and the Egtved girl originated from geographical areas further south in Europe.

The tests showed that the Viking era grape was probably grown on Zealand, reports Videnskab.dk.

“Before we only had suspicions, but now we can see that they actually had grapes and therefore the resources to produce [wine] themselves. Suddenly it all becomes very real,” professor Karin Margarita Frei of the National Museum told Videnskab.dk.

The Tissø settlement is one of the richest Viking locations in Denmark and was home to a dynasty that stretched from the early Iron Age to the late Viking period, reports Videnskab.

Production of wine in the area may have been a way of expressing status, say researchers.

Although it is also possible that the grapes were grown to be consumed as fruit, the Vikings are known to have come across wine on their voyages abroad, and Roman wine cups and other remnants of wine have been found in Scandinavia. The climate in the region was also similar to the present-day climate, making it possible to grow grapes.

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Researchers comb over the ancient Roman containers called amphorae. (Photo: Credit: Laure Marest-Caffey)

Researchers comb over the ancient Roman containers called amphorae. (Photo: Credit: Laure Marest-Caffey)

 

Original Article:

usatoday.com

When workers began digging out the Roman cities torched by Mount Vesuvius, the exquisite wall paintings, sumptuous villas and golden jewelry they found quickly grabbed the spotlight. But archaeologists are now looking to a less glamorous feature of these cities: the garbage.

Over the last few years, a team of researchers has taken a systematic look at street trash, buckets and even storage containers from Pompeii and other ruins to understand the relationship between ordinary Romans and their stuff. The extraordinary preservation of objects by volcanic debris allows for extraordinary insights into humdrum possessions, the researchers say.

“We’re actually starting to see evidence of people’s choices and how they dealt with their objects,” says Caroline Cheung, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, involved in the project. “We get a sense of how people were using them, how they were storing them, whether they were throwing them away or keeping them.”

Modest farmhouses and swanky country houses alike were entombed by the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius, which killed an untold number of the 20,000-plus people living in Pompeii and the surrounding area. But the deadly volcanic flows also preserved artifacts with unprecedented fidelity.

The humble objects left behind show that people didn’t necessarily go easy on their possessions, even though the articles of everyday life were often purchased rather than homemade.

Take the objects discovered at a farmhouse near Pompeii, where the cooking range was so heaped with ashes that it’s clear “they just basically didn’t take out the garbage,” says Theodore Peña of the University of California, Berkeley. “Like frat boys.” Peña leads the project, which is taking a close look at artifacts found during previous excavations.

In a storeroom of the kitchen, shelves held gear that “had the hell beaten out of it,” Peña says. There was a bronze bucket full of dents, perhaps where it had banged into the side of the well just outside the farmhouse. There were pots with bits of the rims broken off and a casserole so badly cracked that it was close to falling apart, but people had kept them to use again.

At a complex near Pompeii that seems to have been a wine-bottling facility, there were more than 1,000 amphorae, ceramic vessels that were the shipping containers of their day. Many were patched and waiting to be refilled, presumably with wine, Peña says.

When the researchers delved into street rubbish, they expected to find lots of broken glass, used for perfume bottles and other common items. Instead they found almost none, a sign that even shards of glass were being collected and made into something else.

It’s too early to say whether the people of Pompeii were thrifty adherents of recycling. But the indications so far are that “ceramics and other types of objects were being reused, repurposed or at least repaired,” Cheung says, in contrast to today’s “throwaway society. … If I break a cheap mug, I probably throw it away. I don’t even think about repairing it.”

The research is “very exciting,” says archaeologist Leigh Anne Lieberman, a graduate student at Princeton University who also studies items from the region but was not involved with Peña’s research. The analysis, she says, “allows us to ask questions we didn’t even know we had.”

The analysis also summons the long-gone Romans who once held the same items now being scrutinized nearly 2,000 years later. “Sometimes you look at a pot or lamp and see fingerprints of the person who made the object,” Cheung says. “That’s a tangible piece of the past that connects you to antiquity.”

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Grape seeds,DHA Photo

Grape seeds,DHA Photo

 

Original Article:

dailysabah.com

October 9, 2016

 

Grape seeds dating back 5,000 years were the latest discovery of an archaeological research that has been carried out near an 8,500-year-old mound located in the western Izmir province.

The seeds were uncovered in Yassıtepe Mound located in Bornova district, which is very close to the nearby 8,500-year-old Yeşilova Mound, the oldest settlement near Turkey’s third largest city Izmir.

The seeds are presumed to be that of the renowned Bornova Muscat grape. The head of the excavation team, Assoc. Prof. Zafer Derin said that the seeds, which were found in carbonized form at the bottoms of pottery, could be the oldest grape remains in the Izmir area. Derin added that the seeds could help reveal important details regarding life in Western Anatolia during antiquity.

Anatolia is regarded as one first the regions were grapes are being cultivated in history, with western provinces of Izmir, Aydın and Manisa being the most prominent centers of grape production in Turkey.

In the excavation carried out by the Ege University with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Izmir and Bornova municipalities, more than 300 pieces belonging to the Neolithic and early Bronze ages were unearthed to be examined.

The unearthed objects were displayed in an exhibition at Bornova Municipality’s visitor center at the Yeşilova Mound.

 

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A Georgian-Italian archaeological expedition has discovered vine pollen in a zoomorphic vessel used in ritual ceremonies by the Kura-Araxes population.

Source: Wine used in ritual ceremonies 5000 years ago in Georgia, the cradle of viticulture

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Jars. Credit: Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Klein

Jars.
Credit: Assaf Yasur-Landau & Eric Klein

Original Article:

science daily

Source:
University of Haifa

For the first time in excavations of ancient Near Eastern sites, a winery has been discovered within a Canaanite palace. The winery produced high-quality wine that helped the Canaanite ruling family to impress their visitors — heads of important families, out-of-town guests, and envoys from neighboring states. “All the residents of the Canaanite city could produce simple wine from their own vineyards. But just before it was served, the wine we found was enriched with oil from the cedars of Lebanon, tree resin from Western Anatolia, and other flavorings, such as resin from the terebinth tree and honey. That kind of wine could only be found in a palace,” says Prof. Assaf Yasur-Landau of the Maritime Civilizations Department at the University of Haifa, one of the directors of the excavation. The full findings of the 2015 excavation season was presented at the conference “Excavations and Studies in Northern Israel,” which took place at the University of Haifa, and in May 16 at the Oriental Institute in Chicago.

The excavations at the Canaanite palace at tel Kabri, which was established around 3,850 years ago during the Middle Bronze Age (around 1950-1550 BCE), are continuing to yield surprises and to provide evidence of a connection between wine, banquets, and power in the Canaanite cities. Two years ago, around 40 almost-complete large jars were found in one of the rooms, and chemical analysis proved that they were filled with wine with special flavorings, such as terebinth resin, cedar oil, honey, and other plant extracts. “This was already a huge quantity of jars to find in a palace from the Bronze Age, and we were really surprised to find such a treasure,” says Prof. Yasur-Landau, who is directing the excavation together with Prof. Eric Cline of George Washington University, and Prof. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University.

In this early excavation the researchers already found openings leading into additional rooms. They devoted 2014 to analyzing the findings from the excavation, particularly the chemical analysis of the wine residues. During the 2015 excavation season, conducted in the summer, the researchers returned to the ancient rooms, not knowing what awaited them.

The northern opening led to a passage to another building. Both sides of the passage were lined with “closets” containing additional jars. The southern opening led to a room that was also full of jars buried under the collapsed walls and roof. This was clearly an additional storeroom. “We would have happily called it a day with this discovery, but then we found that this storeroom also had an opening at its southern end leading to a third room that was also full of shattered jars. And then we found a fourth storeroom” relates Prof. Yasur-Landau.

But the surprises kept on coming. As in the previous seasons, each of the new jars was sampled in order to examine its contents. The initial results showed that while all the jars in the first storeroom were filled with wine, in the other storerooms some of the jars contained wine, others appear to have been rinsed clean, while others still contained only resin, without wine. “It seems that some of the new storerooms were used for mixing wines with various flavorings and for storing empty jars for filling with the mixed wine. We are starting to think that the palace did not just have storerooms for finished produce, but also had a winery where wine was prepared for consumption.” Prof. Yasur-Landau added that this is the first time that a winery has been found in a palace from the Middle Bronze Age.

He adds that the new findings, together with the evidence from previous years of select parts of sheep and goats, have strengthened our understanding of the way rulers used splendid banquets to strengthen their control. “In this period it was not normal practice to mix wine beforehand. Accordingly, in order to provide guests with high-quality wines, the palace itself must have had a winery where they made prestigious wine and served it immediately to guests. These splendid banquets, which in addition to wine also included choice joints of sheep and goat, were the way rulers stayed in touch with their ‘electorate’ at the time — not only the heads of important extended families, but also guests from other cities and foreign envoys.” On the basis of ancient Ugaritic documents, the value of the wine in the storeroom can be estimated at a minimum of 1,900 silver shekels — an enormous sum that would have been sufficient, for example, to purchase three merchant ships. By way of comparison, an ordinary laborer in the same period would have to work for 150 years to earn this sum.

 

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A large and impressive winery dating to the Roman or Byzantine period with a pressing surface paved with a white mosaic was uncovered at the site which served the residents of a large manor house who engaged in wine production.

Alex Wiegmann, excavation director, views winepress uncovered in Schneller Compound

Alex Wiegmann, excavation director, views winepress uncovered in Schneller Compound

Terra cotta pipes indicate the existence of an ancient bathhouse

Terra cotta pipes indicate the existence of an ancient bathhouse

Original Article :

mfa.gov.il

 

A large and impressive winery dating to the Roman or Byzantine period with a pressing surface paved with a white mosaic was uncovered at the site which served the residents of a large manor house who engaged in wine production.

Unexpected finds more than 1,600 years old were uncovered during archaeological excavations financed by the Merom Yerushalayim Company, which the Israel Antiquities Authority is carrying out in Schneller Compound prior to the construction of residential buildings for Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox population.

Schneller Orphanage operated in Jerusalem from 1860 until the Second World War. During the British Mandate, its German inhabitants were expelled and a military base was established there. After the British withdrawal in 1948 the compound was turned over to the Hagana and later served as an army base used by the Israel Defense Force until 2008.

Interesting and assorted finds from Jerusalem’s past were discovered in the archaeological excavation, most notably a large and impressive winery dating to the Roman or Byzantine period, some 1,600 years ago. The complex installation includes a pressing surface paved with a white mosaic. In the center of it is a pit in which a press screw was anchored that aided in extracting the maximum amount of must from the grapes. Eight cells were installed around the pressing surface. These were used for storing the grapes, and possibly also for blending the must with other ingredients thereby producing different flavors of wine. The archaeologists believe that this winery served the residents of a large manor house whose inhabitants made their living by, among other things, viticulture and wine production.

Evidence was unearthed next to the impressive winepress which indicates the presence of a bathhouse there. These finds included terra cotta pipes used to heat the bathhouse and several clay bricks, some of which were stamped with the name of the Tenth Roman Legion. This legion was one of four Roman legions that participated in the conquest of Jewish Jerusalem, and its units remained garrisoned in the city until c. 300 CE. Among the Roman legion’s main centers was the one in the vicinity of Binyanei Ha-Uma, located just c. 800 meters from the current excavation, where a large pottery and brick production center was situated. The archaeologists suggest that the Schneller site, in the form of a manor house, constituted an auxiliary settlement to the main site that was previously exposed at Binyanei Ha-Uma. As was customary in the Roman world, here too in the Schneller Compound, a private bathhouse was incorporated in the plan of the estate.

The current archeological exposure is actually a continuation of the salvage excavations that were carried out at the site half a year ago when evidence was uncovered there of a Jewish settlement that dated to the Late Second Temple period.

According to archaeologist Alex Wiegmann, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “Once again, Jerusalem demonstrates that wherever one turns over a stone ancient artifacts will be found related to the city’s glorious past. The archaeological finds discovered here help paint a living, vibrant and dynamic picture of Jerusalem as it was in ancient times up until the modern era.”

According to Amit Re’em, the Jerusalem district archaeologist, “This is an excellent example of many years of cooperation and deep and close ties with the Haredi community. The general public is used to hearing of the clashes between the archaeologists and the orthodox community around the issue of the graves, but is unaware of the joint work done on a daily basis and the interest expressed by the ultra-orthodox sector. The Israel Antiquities Authority is working to instill our ancient cultural heritage in this population, as it does with other sectors.”

(Israel Antiquities Authority)

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Roman wine being brought back to life in Pompeii. Photo: Piero Mastrobeardino

Roman wine being brought back to life in Pompeii. Photo: Piero Mastrobeardino

 

Roman remains litter the closely-grown vines. Photo: Mastrobeardino

Roman remains litter the closely-grown vines. Photo: Mastrobeardino

Original Article:

the local.it

Feb 2016

Made from ancient grape varieties grown in Pompeii, ‘Villa dei Misteri’ has to be one of the world’s most exclusive wines.

The grapes are planted in exactly the same position, grown using identical techniques and grow from the same soil the city’s wine-makers exploited until Vesuvius buried the city and its inhabitants in AD 79.

In the late 1800s, archaeologist Giuseppe Fiorelli first excavated some of the city’s vineyards from beneath three metres of solid ash.

The digs turned up an almost perfect snapshot of ancient wine-growing – and thirteen petrified corpses, huddled against a wall.

Casts were made of the bodies, as well as the vines and the surviving segments of trellises on which they were growing.

But archaeologists didn’t think to restore the vineyards of ancient Pompeii until the late 1980s.

When they did, they realized they didn’t have a clue about wine-making, so they called in local winemaker Piero Mastrobeardino.

Together they set out to discover how the ancient Romans made wine, and which grapes and farming methods they used.

“The team looked at casts of vine roots made two centuries ago and consulted the surviving fragments of ancient farming texts,” Mastrobeardino told The Local. “We even looked at ancient frescoes to try to identify which grapes grew from Pompeii’s soil.”

The team discovered that the type of grapes their ancestors were growing, called Piederosso Sciacinoso and Aglianico, were the same varieties still being grown on the slopes of Vesuvius by local farmers.

Aglianico is a variety which Piero’s father is credited for saving from extinction after the Second World War.

Although the grape varieties were still the same, farming techniques had changed significantly since the time of the Romans.

“We use a number of methods to grow the fruit and carry out all of the work manually. One thing all our farming techniques have in common is that the grapes are grown at an extremely high density,” Mastrobeardino explained.

At first, experts doubted whether the grapes would grow at all at yields almost twice as high as those used today. However, once placed back in Pompeii’s fertile soil, they flourished.

Enologists discovered that the Romans’ high-density growth technique is actually beneficial – the technique, now rediscovered, is spreading to the modern wine-making.

But not everything about ancient wine-making was better.

Mastrobeardino ferments the wine according to modern techniques and says Roman wine tasted foul.
“Pompeii wines were fermented in open-topped terracotta pots, called dolia. These were lined with pine resin filled with wine and buried deep into the earth. Asking a modern wine-lover to drink ancient wine would be foolish. The Romans knew their system was far from perfect but didn’t have the technology to change it.”

Pompeii wines were considered among the best in the Empire, but were fiercely alcoholic and often diluted with honey, spices and even seawater to mask their rancid flavour.

Hygiene was also an issue.

Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, wrote that it was common to find drowned mice which had fallen into wine-filled dolia. Should this happen, he suggested the best course of action was to extract the marinated mouse and roast it straight away.

Some 1,500 bottles of Villa dei Misteri are made each year and can be found on the tables of exclusive restaurants in Tokyo, London and New York, Mastrobeardino said.

“It’s more of a research project than a commercial enterprise, but it has come a long way. We have now replanted 15 of the city’s ancient vineyards and are experimenting with diverse ancient farming techniques and grape blends.”

It might not be a profitable enterprise, but it doesn’t come cheap either – a bottle will set you back around €77.

 

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