Georgian Jars Hold 8,000-Year-Old Winemaking Clues : The Salt : NPR

Georgian Jars Hold 8,000-Year-Old Winemaking Clues

Enlarge this image toggle caption Thanks to the Georgian National Museum Thanks to the Georgian National Museum

Anthropologist Patrick McGovern, in the University of Pennsylvania, offers been pursuing the origins of wine for quite some time, and that search took him to the mountainous areas east of the Dark colored Sea, in what is today Georgia, Armenia, and Iran.

“Everything pointed compared to that region as the area to investigate,” he says.

This is where the ancestors of today’s wine grapes first grew wild. And old writings from civilizations that emerged in this area show that wine was already an established part of the culture thousands of years ago. “Judaism, Christianity, and also Islam, all have wine integrated into them, and that dates back very early on,” McGovern says.

In Georgia, McGovern joined forces with David Lordkipanidze, director of the Georgian National Museum.

“Wine was often our identification,” Lordkipanidze says. Various Georgians have lengthy believed that their tradition of winemaking may be the oldest on the planet. But Lordkipanidze wanted to back up that satisfaction with scientific evidence.

He invited a group of scientists from around the globe to have a fresh glimpse at two very aged archaeological sites in Georgia.

The researchers, including Patrick McGovern, analyzed pottery from the websites and found traces of substances, like tartaric acid, that are the chemical substance fingerprint of grapes. “If we see the tartaric acid, that presents that we have wine or a grape merchandise,” McGovern says. The experts will be reporting their discovery this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The oldest of the jars came from 8,000 years ago. It is the earliest artifact ever found showing humans eating juice from the Eurasian grapes that are the foundation of today’s wine industry.

One of these old jars, McGovern says, includes a design onto it that seems such as a celebration of wine: “Persons under a trellis grapevine, dancing.”

McGovern says one second from this investigation sticks with him. He’d spent a trip to the museum in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, learning this jar, “and then I come home during the night, and I have my glass of wine in a single hand, and I’m looking out at this public building, and there’s essentially the same scene proper next door from me.” On that building, he noticed that same motif of people dancing under grapevines, bringing together past and present.

Georgia even now has a large wine industry. David Lordkipanidze says this discovery can be an chance for his country’s wine industry, “showing that it can be not merely old, but can be good.”

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