Ancient Greek Wine

6,000-Year-Old Wine Found In Greece

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Archaeologists undertaking an ongoing excavation at a prehistoric settlement site in northern Greece have completed analyses of wine samples from ancient ceramics revealing evidence of wine dating back to 4200 BC . It is believed to be the oldest known traces of wine in Europe.

The excavation, located at an ancient settlement known as Dikili Tash, is situated 1.2 miles from the ancient city of Philippi and has been inhabited since 6500 B.C.  The site is a tell, a massive human-created mound of earth which looms some 15 meters above the current ground level over an area of 11 acres, the result of millennia of human building and rebuilding in the same place. Archaeological deposits in the tell extend below the current ground surface, for a total of 17 m of human occupation.

Dikili Tash has been known as an important Neolithic site for over a century, but it was only during the latest rounds of excavations at the site that the lowest levels (Early and Middle Neolithic) were identified. Not much is known about people who lived at Dikili Tash during these periods as of yet so the latest finding offers some insight into these ancient people, although the societal changes that may have been influenced by the consumption of alcohol is an issue of debate.

"The find is highly significant for the European prehistory, because it is for the moment the oldest indication for vinification in Europe," said Dimitra Malamidou, co-director of the most recent excavation. "The historical meaning of our discovery is important for the Aegean and the European prehistory, as it gives evidence of early developments of the agricultural and diet practices, affecting social processes."

It is believed that the wine traces in Dikili Tash represent the oldest known traces of wine drinking in Europe. Previous studies have unearthed a 6,100-year-old Armenian winery, and beyond Europe, scientists have found traces of a 9,000-year-old Chinese alcohol made from rice, honey and fruit. Several months ago, archaeologists in Italy announced plans to recreate ancient wine using traditional processes described in old Roman texts.

By April Holloway

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