On 8K-Year-Old Shards, Proof of Ancient 'Social Lubricant'

Scientists believe they've found proof of production of 'world's oldest' grape wine in nation of Georgia
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2017 7:11 AM CST
Evidence of 'World's Oldest' Grape Wine Dug Up in Georgia
Representative early Neolithic jar from Khramis Didi-Gora.   (PNAS)

Wine has been used as a "social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity" throughout the ages. Now, a discovery just south of Tbilisi details just how far back through the ages the beverage has existed, the BBC reports. Per a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, archaeologists found 8,000-year-old pottery shards in the nation of Georgia indicating wine was once made there in earthenware jars, the earliest evidence ever of grape-based wine production. Before the discovery of the fragments from eight jars (the oldest from circa 5980BC) in the Neolithic villages of Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora, the most ancient proof of grape winemaking came from Iraq, dating between 5000BC and 5400BC. Testing of the Georgian pieces showed evidence of a slew of acids from wine that had been made inside the erstwhile vessels.

The jars also featured images of grapes and a man dancing, and National Geographic notes the presence of grape pollen in the soil. Scientists believe the jars may have been stored underground during the fermentation process and, based on an intact jar found at a site nearby, were so large they could fit about 400 of today's wine bottles, per a release. There's even a link to modern-day vino production: The old-time jars are strikingly similar to the large qvevri jars used today in Georgia. Because wine wasn't crucial to living in Stone Age times, one scientist not involved in the study tells National Geographic that the find shows "far greater sophistication" during that time period than previously suspected. China still holds the overall wine record, however: Evidence there for a boozy rice-and-honey based concoction dates back to 7000BC. (Archaeologists found a tiny stone that holds unparalleled ancient Greek art.)

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