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MASSIVE Biblical Age Wine Cellar Unearthed

Aug 28, 2014 12:03 PM EDT
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Archaeologists have unearthed the palace of potentially the biggest partier of the Bronze Age, boasting a personal wine cellar significantly larger than any ever seen before.
(Photo : Flickr: Angelo Amboldi)

Archaeologists have unearthed the palace of potentially the biggest partier of the Bronze Age, boasting a personal wine cellar significantly larger than any ever seen before.

Various archaeologist teams have actually been excavating the Canaanite palace of Tel Kabri since the late 1980s. The Middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC) palace covers a whopping 200 acres in the northwestern part of modern-day Israel.

Now, a new team of researchers claim they have discovered the palace's wine cellar, and it is certainly something even the grandest of wine connoisseurs would envy.

"What's fascinating about what we have here is that it is part of a household economy," archaeologist Andrew Koh told the Smithsonian. "This was the patriarch's personal wine cellar. The wine was not meant to be given away as part of a system of providing for the community. It was for his own enjoyment and the support of his authority."

In other words, despite the fact that it may be the largest and oldest wine cellar ever known in the Middle East, it was strictly for pleasure, and not commercial storage.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106406
(Photo : PLoS ONE/2014 Koh et al.) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106406

A study recently published in the journal PLoS ONE, details how Koh and his colleagues unearthed a large room located just west of the palace's central courtyard that was filled with massive, but narrow-necked vessels that are thought to have held wine. Three of the 40 jars discovered were closely analyzed, and researchers found traces of tartaric acid, one of the main acids found in wine. They also found syringic acid, a compound associated with red wine specifically, and residue from herbs, tree resign, and even honey - all various additives to wine.

Koh said that were the wine still intact, he and his team would have been tasting "a relatively sophisticated drink."

"Somebody was sitting there with years if not generations of experience saying 'this is what best preserves the wine and makes it taste better,'" he added.

So how much wine was really in there? The wine jugs were all of uniform size, and stored about 528 gallons (~2000 L) of the good stuff, according to initial reports presented at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research last November.

That's the equivalent of about 3,000 modern bottles of wine. Is it possible to be jealous of a long-dead Canaanite booze hound? Yes, yes it think it is.

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