Evidence of Extensive Vine Cultivation Uncovered

Archeologists substantiate winemaking in the ancient western Syrian city of Qatna.


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A team of Italian and Syrian archaeologists has uncovered evidence of extensive vine cultivation in the ancient western Syrian city of Qatna.

The finds, which have been dated to between 3,000 and 1,000 B.C., include numerous charred grape pips recovered from storage pits and buildings. The team also found vitis vinifera pollens from the sedimentation of an ancient lake near the main site. The pollens, which were used in grape cultivation, have been dated to the middle bronze age, between 2000 and 1600 B.C.

"The abundance of grape pips found in central storage features of the third and first millennium B.C. may indicate that vine was grown not only for human consumption in form of grapes but also for winemaking," Daniele Bonacossi, the

 Charred grape pips

 Charred grape pips

lead Italian archaeologist on the project told Wine Enthusiast.

Between 3,000 and 1,000 B.C. the city was inhabited by the Amorreans, Hurrians and Arameans peoples respectively.

"For the ancient near east we still lack the archaeological and textual information about winemaking that we have for the classical world. Nevertheless, we know that wine was used for ritual purposes as well as for pleasure by the urban elites of the large bronze and iron-age cities of Syria," says Bonacossi, who hopes to find more direct evidence of winemaking on the site in future.

Bonacossi has been working in Syria since 1988 and is a specialist on Syria during the bronze and iron ages. She is affiliated with the University of Udine in Italy where she teaches near eastern archaeology. Her work on the site at Qatna began in 1999.

Project Web site: www.qatna.org

Emmet Cole is a writer and journalist from Ireland currently based in Austin, Texas.


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