"The Origins and Ancient History of Wine"

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Dr. Patrick McGovern peering into the world's oldest wine jar

Dr. Patrick McGovern peering into the world's oldest wine jar (on display at the Penn Museum), dating to 5400-5000 B.C.


C o n t e n t s :


Intro - living out our past through wine

Neolithic Period - "chateau hajji firuz"

Egypt
- wine for the afterlife

Mesopotamia
- under the grape arbors...

One of a kind laboratory
- ancient evidence; modern technology

Map - wine's whereabouts: then and now

The grapevine & tree resins - nature's ingredients
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Credits
Glossary
Links

Living out our past through wine...

...we continue to live out our past by drinking wine made from a plant that has its origins in the ancient Near East...

Fermented beverages have been preferred over water throughout the ages: they are safer, provide psychotropic effects, and are more nutritious. Some have even said alcohol was the primary agent for the development of Western civilization, since more healthy individuals (even if inebriated much of the time) lived longer and had greater reproductive success. When humans became "civilized," fermented beverages were right at the top of the list for other reasons as well: conspicuous display (the earliest Neolithic wine, which might be dubbed "Chateau Hajji Firuz," was like showing off a bottle of Pétrus today); a social lubricant (early cities were even more congested than those of today); economy (the grapevine and wine tend to take over cultures, whether Greece, Italy, Spain, or California); trade and cross-cultural interactions (special wine-drinking ceremonies and drinking vessels set the stage for the broader exchange of ideas and technologies between cultures); and religion (wine is right at the center of Christianity and Judaism; Islam also had its "Bacchic" poets like Omar Khayyam).

Whatever the reason, we continue to live out our past civilization by drinking wine made from a plant that has its origins in the ancient Near East. Your next bottle may not be a 7000 year old vintage from Hajji Firuz, but the grape remains ever popular—cloned over and over again from those ancient beginnings.


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