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first published by archaeology.org

Greece

By BENJAMIN LEONARD

November/December 2020c(Angelafoto/Getty Images)

Symposium painting, Tomb of the Diver, Paestum, ItalyAlcohol Greece Kylix Skyphos(American School of Classical Studies at Athens: Agora Excavations)

Kylix (top), Skyphos (above)Ancient Greek vases frequently depict the revels of men participating in the symposium, an intimate drinking party held in a private home, as well as the consequences of excessive consumption that may have occurred during such gatherings. But just how much wine, mixed with water in a bowl called a krater, would a group have consumed in the course of a typical symposium in early fifth-century B.C. Athens? To answer this question, archaeologist Kathleen Lynch of the University of Cincinnati and independent scholar Richard Bidgood calculated the capacity of serving vessels and drinking cups, including kylikes and skyphoi, excavated from early fifth-century B.C. houses in the Athenian Agora, the city’s main marketplace. Assuming each kylix was filled to just over half an inch below its rim—a level at which reclining guests could swill, but not spill, their wine—they estimated that the average cup’s capacity was roughly equivalent to that of a can of soda. Thus, a single krater could hold a few rounds of drinks for a moderate-size group.

Even if the krater were refilled throughout the night, Lynch explains, this suggests that symposiasts wanted to prolong the evening’s festivities without going overboard. The researchers also discovered that kylikes from a given house held varying amounts, even if they appeared to all be around the same size. “The symposium’s emphasis on equality was underscored by everyone having the perception of the same amount of wine,” says Lynch. “Even if it was technically a bit different, they wanted to look around the room and see people with similar-size cups filled to a similar level, so that no one felt that somebody was getting too much.”

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First posted in archaeology.org
Iran

By JARRETT A. LOBELL

November/December 2020Alcohol Achaemenid Tribute Bearers Relief(HIP/Art Resource, NY)

Tribute bearers, Achaemenid reliefAlcohol Achaemenid Gold Rhyton(Museum of Iran/Bridgeman Images)

Gold rhytonFor the kings of the Achaemenid Empire, who ruled much of the ancient Near East from 550 to 330 B.C., there was little—apart from hunting lions and conquering the world—that rivaled a rhyton of fine wine. But for these powerful potentates, wine was not just a pleasurable pastime. It was also not, despite what the fifth-century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus would have people believe, evidence of the kings’ profligate behavior and poor decision-making skills characterized by zealous over-imbibing. “Wine drinking and distribution not only embodied refinement, wealth, and power for the Achaemenids, but also provided an opportunity for rewarding loyalty and implementing political strategy,” says linguist Ashk Dahlén of Uppsala University. “Banquets were inherently public, political acts. They were central to the construction of royal identity and demonstrated that the empire was a supreme player on the world stage.”

At such splendid affairs, wine was served by the Royal Cup Bearer, a role known from records such as the Persepolis Administrative Archives to have been one of the highest trust. The bearer would have been an excellent sommelier and, says Dahlén, well versed in different wines and the particular customs associated with them. “The variety of wine at the king’s table was not a matter of sheer self-indulgence,” he says, “but served as a symbol of the king’s power and his capacity to attract tribute.” Unlike Greek symposiums, where the presence of “proper” women was not allowed, in the Achaemenid court, women were fully included, says Dahlén, all part of what he calls the “ancient Iranian dolce vita.”

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Article from archaeology.org

Egypt

By JARRETT A. LOBELL

November/December 2020Alcohol Egypt Nakht Tomb(Lebrecht History/Bridgeman Images)

Tomb of NakhtAs early as the Predynastic period, beginning in the mid-fifth millennium B.C., the Egyptians placed wine jars in tombs as offerings to the dead. References to wine dating to the 1st and 2nd Dynasties have been identified on ceramic jar seals found in the burial grounds at Abydos and Saqqara, and the word for wine, “irp,” appears on 2nd Dynasty stelas. By the 4th Dynasty, in the mid-third millennium B.C., tomb designers had begun to illustrate viticulture and winemaking on tomb walls. For archaeologist Sofia Fonseca of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, such imagery offers valuable insights into the vintner’s entire process. “We have this idea that viticulture and winemaking originated in the ancient Near East, and that European wine culture is a legacy from Greece and Rome,” she says. “But the truth is that, starting more than 4,500 years ago, and for the next two millennia of Egyptian history, we have images that show a traditional process similar to those winemakers in Mediterranean regions are still using. By studying these images, we can have a real change in the paradigm of wine history and bring awareness to the influence that Egyptian wine culture had on Mediterranean wine culture.”

While the Egyptians drank both red and white wine, only red wine is depicted in the tombs. “It’s interesting to see how the symbolism of wine is deeply related to the color red,” says Fonseca. “This recalls the relationship between wine and the blood of Osiris, the god of death and resurrection, who is called the Lord of Wine in the late Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts. It also recalls the relationship between wine and the reddish color of the Nile during the annual flood, when iron-rich sediment flows into the river from the mountains of Ethiopia at just the time when the grape harvest begins.”

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

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On this day ten years ago…
via Ancient wrecks found off Italy’ west coast

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First posted on Aug 9, 2010
via Palace recreates wine fountain fit for a king

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On this day ten years ago…
via A Bit of Ancient Wine history

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Archaeology.org


The 2012 holiday season
brought news of several exciting finds from across Europe that make up a veritable cocktail party—including wine, beer, and cheese—of archaeological evidence.

In a 2,000-year-old, 100-foot-deep well at the site of Cetamura del Chianti in Tuscany, Italy, archaeologists from Florida State University found 153 grape seeds. The pips date to the period shortly after the Romans claimed the site from the Etruscans. The researchers have identified the grapes as Vitis vinifera, or the wine grape. Because the seeds were not burned, they might carry preserved DNA that could offer insight into the beginnings of viticulture in the region now famous for its bold, fruity reds. “People are going to be interested in the variety of grapes we might be able to identify,” says archaeologist Nancy Thomson de Grummond.

Meanwhile, in western Cyprus, a domed, mud-plaster structure found at the site of Kissonerga-Skalia appears to have been used as a Bronze Age kiln to dry malt for brewing beer. Archaeologist Lindy Crewe of the University of Manchester in England and her team excavated the nearly 4,000-year-old oven, uncovering ashy deposits containing carbonized fig seeds, mortars and other grinding implements, and juglets. They also found sherds of a large clay pot that they believe was a pithos, a vessel in which a fire was lit and used as an indirect heat source within the kiln. Malt, the team hypothesizes, might have been stored in the juglets while they were in the kiln, and then removed to perform the rest of the brewing process.

Finally, new data indicate that sherds from vessels used as sieves, dating back to the sixth millennium B.C. in Poland, have residue of dairy fats on them, suggesting they were used in the earliest known instance of cheese-making. Researchers at the University of Bristol confirmed what Princeton archaeologist Peter Bogucki had suspected for 30 years—that Neolithic farmers in Europe whose settlements were dominated by remains of cattle were dependent on those animals for more than meat.

Taken together, the finds, spanning thousands of years and distant locations, suggest that tastes may not have changed all that much over the millennia.

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On this day ten tears ago…
via Wine Lover’s Guide to Ancient Britain

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On this day ten years ago…
via Domain Dispute -Sparkling Wine

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