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Birthplace of Wine. 8000-year-old Jars Found Near Tbilisi

14 November 2017

The jars came from two Neolithic-a period which began around 15,200 BC-villages called Gadachrili Gora and Shulaveris Gora.

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.

Georgia has enhanced its claim as the cradle of winemaking after new research showed it contains the oldest known evidence of wine culture, dating back 8,000 years.

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"We believe this is the oldest example of the domestication of a wild-growing Eurasian grapevine exclusively for the production of wine", said co-author and senior researcher Stephen Batiuk.

Ancient pottery fragments found in two archaeological sites in Georgia have traces of tartaric acid, a chemical fingerprint of grapes.

They say wine improves with age, and if that's true, the discovery is truly sublime - and pushes back the world's earliest evidence of modern-style viticulture by up to 1,000 years, trumping earlier finds in the Zagros Mountains of Iran dating to around 5400-5000 BCE. The findings are reported in a research study this week in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Georgia is one of the flawless environments for such undertakings, as it hosts about 500 species and varieties of grapes used only for wine, together with many others cultivated for fruits. One of the most important crafts was pottery, which enabled the fermentation and storage of wine.

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The Neolithic period was the time when humans started domesticating plants and animals, started farming and developed the techniques of pottery making and weaving.

"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". Experts from University of Toronto in Canada and Georgian National Museum have found that wine-making as a practice began hundreds of years ago on the border of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. "As a medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies and society in the ancient Near East".

"The infinite range of flavors and aromas of today's 8,000-10,000 grape varieties are the end result of the domesticated Eurasian grapevine being transplanted and crossed with wild grapevines elsewhere over and over again", said Stephen Batiuk.

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Vitis vinifera cultivars, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Sangiovese, make up 99.9% of the world's wine production today.

Birthplace of Wine. 8000-year-old Jars Found Near Tbilisi