Public Release: 

Early evidence of Near Eastern viniculture

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

A study provides evidence of winemaking in Georgia in the South Caucasus as early as 6000-5800 BC. As climate in the mountainous Near East improved following the last Ice Age, Neolithic hunter-gatherers innovated viniculture of the Eurasian grapevine (Vitis vinifera). The earliest known chemical evidence for grape wine in the region dates to 5400-5000 BC in Hajji Firuz Tepe, an early Neolithic village in the Zagros Mountains of Iran. Focusing on two archaeological sites in Georgia in the South Caucasus, Patrick McGovern and colleagues performed a biomolecular archaeological investigation of newly excavated pottery jars of the early Neolithic period. The authors describe the jars' archaeological contexts and present chemical evidence of tartaric, malic, succinic, and citric acids, all of which are biomarkers of the Eurasian grape, as well as new radiocarbon age determinations in the range of 5800-6000 BC. The authors also present climatic and environmental reconstructions, including archaeobotanical evidence, of the abundance of grapes in the region during the early Neolithic period. The authors note that jars similar to the newly recovered Neolithic vessels continue to be used to make wine in Georgia, illustrating that the culture of wine in the region has deep historical roots. The findings represent early evidence of viniculture, which subsequently spread worldwide and influenced human civilization, according to the authors.

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Article #17-14728: "Early Neolithic wine of Georgia in the South Caucasus," by Patrick McGovern et al.

MEDIA CONTACT: David Lordkipanidze, Georgian National Museum, Tbilisi, REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA; tel: (995) 32 2 984811; e-mail: <dlordkipanidze@museum.ge>

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