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Jeroboam Wine Early History

Wine Early History

Wine residue has been identified by Patrick McGovern's team at the University Museum, Pennsylvania, in ancient pottery jars. Records include jars from the Pottery Neolithic (5400-5000 BC) site of Hajji Firuz Tepe in the Zagros Mountains of present-day Iran and from Late Uruk (3500-3100 BC) occupation at the site of Uruk, in Mesopotamia. The identifications of wine are based on the identification of tartaric acid and tartrate salts using a form of infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). These identifications are regarded with caution by some biochemists because of the risk of false positives, particularly where complex mixtures of organic materials, and degradation products, may be present. The identifications have not yet been replicated in other laboratories.

In Iran (Persia), mei (the Persian wine) has been a central theme of their poetry for more than a thousand years, although alcohol is strictly forbidden in Islam.

Little is known of the prehistory of wine. It is plausible that early foragers and farmers made alcoholic beverages from wild fruits, including wild grapes (Vitis sylvestris). This would have been easier following the development of pottery vessels in the later Neolithic of the Near East, about 9000 years ago. However, wild grapes are small and sour, and relatively rare at archaeological sites. It is unlikely they could have been the basis of a wine industry.

Domesticated grapes were abundant in the Near East from the beginning of the Early Bronze Age, starting in 3200 BC. There is also increasingly abundant evidence for wine making in Sumeria and Egypt in the third millennium BC. Grapes were, of course, also an important food. There is scanty evidence for earlier domestication of grape, in the form of grape pips from Chalcolithic Tell Shuna in Jordan, but this evidence remains unpublished.

Exactly where wine was first made will probably never be known. It could have been anywhere in the vast region, stretching from Spain to Central Asia, where wild grapes grow. However, the first large-scale production of wine must have been in the region where grapes were first domesticated, the Near East. Wild grapes grow in the northern Levant, coastal and southeastern Turkey, the Caspian coast of Iran, Armenia, and Georgia. None of these areas can be singled out, despite persistent suggestions that Georgia is the birthplace of wine.

Wine in Ancient Egypt

In Ancient Egypt, wine played an important part in ceremonial life. A thriving royal winemaking industry was established in the Nile Delta following the introduction of grape cultivation from the Levant to Egypt c. 3000 BC. The industry was most likely the result of trade between Egypt and Canaan during the Early Bronze Age, commencing from at least the Third Dynasty (2650 2575 BC), the beginning of the Old Kingdom period (2650 2152 BC). Winemaking scenes on tomb walls, and the offering lists that accompanied them, included wine that was definitely produced at the deltaic vineyards. By the end of the Old Kingdom, five wines, all probably produced in the Delta, constitute a canonical set of provisions, or fixed "menu," for the afterlife. The advent of wine in Europe was the work of the Greeks who spread the art of grape-growing and winemaking in Ancient Greek and Roman times.

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