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Liquid containing cremated human remains is the world’s oldest known wine

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Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known preserved wine, a 2,000-year-old white wine of Andalusian origin.

The origins of wine is debatable, with some sources citing the invention to China, or from Georgia, Iran, and Armenia. Wine was an integral part of the Roman diet and most major wine-producing regions of Western Europe were established during the Roman Imperial era.

The wine was found in a Roman era tomb in the Spanish town of Carmona. It was used for a funerary rite, where the wine was placed in a glass urn and used to immerse the cremated remains of one of the deceased.

“At first we were very surprised that liquid was preserved in one of the funerary urns,” said the City of Carmona’s municipal archaeologist, Juan Manuel Román. “After all, 2,000 years had passed, but the tomb’s conservation conditions were extraordinary and allowed the wine to maintain its natural state.”

Ancient wines absorbed into vessel walls or their residues can be identified using specific biomarkers. However, the example from Carmona is the first instance where the wine has been analysed while still in its liquid state.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, applied high-performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS) to identify the polyphenols in the liquid, allowing it to be identified as white wine.

Identifying the origins of the wine was challenging due to the absence of surviving samples from the same period for comparison. However, the mineral salts in the liquid suggest that the wine may originate from the former province of Betis, particularly the Montilla-Moriles region.

A second urn contained the remains of a cremated woman but no traces of a liquid or wine. According to the paper authors: “The fact that the man’s skeletal remains were immersed in the wine is no coincidence. Women in ancient Rome were long prohibited from drinking wine. It was a man’s drink.”

Header Image Credit : Juan Manuel Román

Sources : Daniel Cosano, Juan Manuel Román, Dolores Esquivel, Fernando Lafont, José Rafael Ruiz Arrebola, “New archaeochemical insights into Roman wine from Baetica”, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, vol. 57, 2024, 104636. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2024.104636

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

Gold foils discovered in Ancient Egyptian tombs

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Archaeologists from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities have discovered rare gold foils during excavations at Tel El-Dir.

Tel El-Dir is a burial complex in the area of Egypt’s Damietta Governorate. The site contains various burials and tombs from the 26th Dynasty (664 BC to 525 BC), the last native dynasty of ancient Egypt before the Persian conquest in 525 BC.

Excavations of 63 mud brick tombs and pit burials have revealed a large collection of funerary offerings, including rare gold foils depicting Ancient Egyptian deities, and foils shaped like symbols associated with good fortune and protection.

The team also found foils in the shape of tongues, a tradition that enabled the deceased to speak before the court of Osiris in the afterlife.

Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The discovery follows on from a previous haul in 2022, where archaeologists excavating at Tel El-Dir found gold foils depicting Isis, Bastet and Horus (in the form of a winged falcon), as well as foils in various shapes.

According to a press statement from the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, many of the tombs contained funeral pyres, imported and local ceramics, and Ushabti statues (figurines placed with the deceased to serve them in the afterlife).

The excavation has also yielded a large number of funerary offerings, such as protective amulets, figurines, coins, and a mirror.

Speaking on the finds, the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities explained that the objects confirm that Damietta was a centre of trade during ancient times, and provides new insights into the burial practices during the 26th Dynasty.

Header Image Credit : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

Sources : Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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Archaeology

New findings at world-famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr

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A recent study by archaeologists from the University of York and the University of Newcastle has revealed new insights into the domestic activities of the Mesolithic inhabitants of Star Carr.

Star Carr is one of the most significant and informative Mesolithic sites in Europe, which during prehistoric times was situated near the outflow at the western end of a palaeolake known as Lake Flixton.

Today, Star Carr lies at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, England.

Using microscopic evidence from the use of stone tools, the researchers found that a range of domestic activities took place in three previously excavated structures. This includes activities related to working with bone, antler, hide, meat, and fish.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, used a combination of spatial and microwear data to provide different scales of interpretation: from individual tool use to patterns of activity across the three structures.

Dr Jess Bates, from the University of York’s Department of Archaeology said: “We found that there were distinct areas for different types of activity, so the messy activity involving butchery, for example, was done in what appears to be a designated space, and separate to the ‘cleaner’ tasks such as crafting bone and wooden objects, tools or jewellery.

“This was surprising as hunter-gatherers are known for being very mobile, as they would have to travel out to find food, and yet they have a very organised approach to creating not just a house but a sense of home.

“This new work, on these very early forms of houses suggests, that these dwellings didn’t just serve a practical purpose in the sense of having a shelter from the elements, but that certain social norms of a home were observed that are not massively dissimilar to how we organise our homes today.”

Header Image Credit : Shutterstock

Sources : Bates J, Milner N, Conneller C, Little A (2024) Spatial organisation within the earliest evidence of post-built structures in Britain. PLoS ONE 19(7): e0306908. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0306908

This content was originally published on www.heritagedaily.com – © 2023 – HeritageDaily

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