Wine in Rome! Analysis of ancient jars found near the Italian city suggests wine was made using native grapes in containers waterproofed with imported tar pitch
If you want to do as the Romans did, you could start with a glass of wine from your nearest vineyard.
A new analysis of a set of three ancient jars found near Rome suggests that red and white wine was made using native grapes in coastal Italië during the Roman period.
Researchers from Avignon University in Frankryk also analysed chemical markers, plant tissue residue and pollen left inside the wine-making jars.
They discovered evidence of pine, which was used to create tar to waterproof the jars as well as potentially flavour the wine itself.
The authors said: ‘By using different approaches to unravel the content and nature of the coating layer of Roman amphorae, we have pushed the conclusion further in the understanding of ancient practices than it would have been with a single approach.’
Researchers from Avignon University in France analysed chemical markers, plant tissue residue and pollen left inside the ancient Roman wine-making jars. Pictured is a Lamboglia type amphora, a typology meant for the maritime transport of wine or olive oil
Images of archaeological plant tissues trapped in the resin of one of the jars (1), filament from the stamen of a modern wild Vitis vinifera flower (2) and section of charred Pinus wood trapped in the pitch of one of the jars (3). The white arrow indicates the diagnostic resin canal
SAN FELICE CIRCEO SEABED DEPOSIT
A cemetery of archaeological artefacts was uncovered following a severe winter storm that hit San Felice Circeo in 2018.
The objects were discovered at a short distance from the coast, half metre below the regular level of the sand in a trench covering approximately 100 m².
Among the several artefacts uncovered were ancient anchors made of stone, hout, lead and iron, cannons, muskets, remains of ancient ships and amphorae.
The objects are dated to the sixth century B.C., but also to medieval and Roman periods.
Analytical chemist Louise Chassouant and colleagues examined three Roman period amphorae – wine jars – extracted from a seabed deposit in 2018.
The deposit was located near the modern harbour of San Felice Circeo in Italy, oor 56 myl (90 kilometers) southeast of Rome.
Other objects found in the vicinity include ancient anchors made of stone, hout, lead and iron, cannons, muskets and remains of ancient ships.
They were dated to the sixth century B.C., but also the medieval and Roman periods.
In this study, three amphorae were studied, belonging to the late Greco-Italic, Dressel and Lamboglia types.
An analysis of the biomarkers in the amphorae, published today in PLoS ONE, suggests they were used to create both red and white wine.
The researchers also discovered the pollen of Vitis blomme, found in local modern and middle Pleistocene samples.
This grapevine pollen matches wild species from the area, suggesting these winemakers were using local plants.
However it remains unclear whether these were domesticated at the time or harvested from wild plants.
The team also identified residue from the of Pinus groep sylvestris, which was used to produce wood tar for waterproofing the jars.
Two of the three amphorae discovered in a seabed deposit near the modern harbour of San Felice Circeo in Italy. Links: A late Greco-Italic amphora from the second half of the second century B.C. Middle and Right: A dressel amphora from between the last quarter of the second century and the first half of the first century B.C.
Vitis pollen grains recovered from fossil sediments from Rignano Flaminio (A, B), Surface of modern wild fruits of Vitis from Tivoli (C, D) and pitch of the three amphorae in the study (E – J)
Chemical markers indicated that the wood tar was not of local origin, and was likely imported from Calabria or Sicily based on other historical sources.
It may have also been used to flavour the wine as it provides a strong aromatic character, and herbal wines were common at the time, the researchers claim.
They hope that their successful multidisciplinary approach to analysis will be replicated in future studies on ancient Roman grapevine cultivation.
Huge 1,500-year-old WINE FACTORY discovered in Israel is the largest known winery in the world from the Byzantine period
A massive wine factory, dating 1,500 jare, has been discovered in Israel, and is the largest known winery ever discovered from the Byzantine period.
The sophisticated facility, unearthed in Yavne, could produce up to two million litres of wine per year, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Ter vergelyking, the UK as a whole now produces just short of eight million litres per year.
Archaeologists spent two years excavating the 75,000 sq ft site as part of a move from the Israel Land Authority to expand the city of Yavne into the surrounding area.
They found five massive wine presses, warehouses for ageing and marketing the wine, and even kilns for firing the clay vessels used to store the wine.
The well organised and structured factory produced the regional wine known as Gaza, or Ashkelon, which was then exported throughout the Mediterranean.
Wine drinking was common for adults and children during the Byzantine period, rondom 520 CE, due to the poor quality of the water.