Published: Tue, November 14, 2017
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

World's earliest evidence of wine-making found in Georgia

World's earliest evidence of wine-making found in Georgia

The earthenware jars were found in two sites south of Tbilisi, Georgia's capital, and contained residual wine compounds, the BBC reports.

Humans have been fermenting wine and storing them in jugs as early as 6,000 B.C. Researchers have found chemical evidence showing that wine has 8,000-year-old roots, pushing the age of the popular fermented drink 600 to 1,000 years older than the previous oldest estimates.

Researchers were excited to make such a discovery. The excavated sites were originally two villages that date back to the Neolithic period.

That honour belongs to the long-ago people of Jiahu in the Yellow Valley of China, where researchers previously found evidence of an even earlier kind of wine production dating back to around 7000 BCE.

"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said Stephen Batiuk, research associate at University of Toronto.

Before stumbling upon these ceramic jars, the oldest evidence related to the existence of wine came from today's Iran, in the Zagros Mountains. This was the moment when humans started involving in agricultural activities such as plant-growing and animal domestication.

"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 ancient people of Georgia may have stored 300 liters of wine in the massive jars measuring about three feet tall with small clay bumps that are clustered around the rim.

But this heady drop wasn't the wine we know and love today, and incorporated hawthorn fruit, rice, and honey mead, in addition to grapes.

The study was largely financed by the National Wine Agency of Georgia. It also shows the first attempts at farming and at domestic activities. "There's far greater sophistication even in the transitional Neolithic than we had any clue about".

According to Stephen Batiuk, a senior researcher at the University of Toronto who helped publish the findings via the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), this latest artefact find is a serious window into the earl days of wine making.

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