Introduction Wine has played a very significant role in society and human history dating back as far as the most early documented civilizations in human history. In this slideshow the first evidence of wine grapes and theories behind the first discovery of grape fermentation such as the Paleolithicaltheory will be discussed.
Introduction cont….. The development and growth of wines discovery and viticulture will also be discussed along with the various uses and roles wine has played in primitive societies; such as ceremonies and rituals, religion, war, ancient high society and as an ancient medicine. Wine played an important role in ancient society as it continues to do so in our society today.
First evidence of wine grapes According toAlhoff, F.(2008); “The family of Viticae – (wine grapes) can be traced back to the plant Ampelopsis from 500 million years ago…. …The Viticae family is traced back to 50 million years ago from fossil seeds and leaf impressions found by archeologists in North Eastern Europe.”
The Paleolithical theory: the first discovery of wine grapes and grape fermentation McGovern, P. E. (2003), has a theory based on other theories by historians and archeologists that the first encounter humans would have had with wine grapes would have been 2 million years ago when humans (homo sapiens) migrated from East Africa into the middle east. It is believed that in Turkey, Iran, Palestine or Israel at this time (which has been named the Paleolithical period of human history) that humans would have first discovered grapes after seeing birds eating them which as a result would have influenced them to first try grapes.
The Paleolithical theory: the first discovery of wine grapes and grape fermentation cont… P. E, McGovern. (2003), theorizes that the discovery of grape fermentation may have been as a result of the caveman/ woman gathering “up as many of the berries as possible, perhaps into an animal hide or even a wooden container that has been crudely hollowed out……depending on the grapes ripeness, the skins of some rapture and exude their juice, under the accumulated weight of the grape mass. If the grapes are then left in their ‘container’, gradually being eaten over the next day or two, this juice will ferment owing to the natural yeast ‘bloom’ on the skins and become a low-alcoholic wine………….
The Paleolithical theory: the first discovery of wine grapes and grape fermentation cont… …. Reaching the bottom of the ‘barrel’ our imagined cavemen or woman will dabble a finger in the concoction , lick it and be pleasantly surprised by the mildly intoxicating beverage that has been produced accidentally. More intentional squeezings might then ensue.”
Paleolithical period: “Stone-age beaujoulaisnouveau”. Douro’s stone vessels have been found dating back to this time period and archeologists believed they contained wine. Due to the nature of the way that grape fermentation would have been discovered in the paleolithical period the grapes would have undergone carbonic maceration from the grape bunches having a few of the grapes at the bottom of the vessel splitting under the weight of the other grapes and beginning fermentation….so the cavemen/woman would have been unintentionally making what has been dubbed a “stone-age beajoulais nouveau”.
Neolithical period: large scale wine-making begins The Neolithical period from 8500 BC – 4000 BC was the first time in human pre-history when the necessary preconditions came together for the innovation of viticulture. The Neolithical period is the time when large scale wine-making began, there is chemical evidence that supports this in Neoltihical pottery vessels found that had contained wine in various Neolithical sites.
Neolithical period: Georgia It is believed that the first wine-making began in Shulaveri which is modern day Georgia around 6000 BC as a result of pottery vessels found in archeolicigalsites in valleys in Georgia containing organic material which has been tested and is believed to be wine. Large concentrations of grape pips have also been found in these sites dating back to this time period which also supports this idea. As many as 500 different wild grape varieties have been discovered in Georgia with as many as 65 in production today.
Neolithical period: Iran It is believed that in about 5,400 BC wine making spread from Georgia into modern day Iran. Pottery vessels containing a residue of organic material tested and believed to be wine have been found in Archeological sites of HajiFiruzIepe in the Zagros Mountains dating between 5,400 BC to 5,000 BC. There are many references in Ancient Iranian poetry dating back to this time time period to drinking wine as being a part of celebration and ceremony.
Bronze Age: Wine-making spreads to lower Mesopotomia and Ancient Egypt Pottery vessels found in archeological sites of Late Uruk in Lower Mesopotomia have also been found to contain wine residue it is from here that wine-making most likely spread to Ancient Egypt. In around 3000 BC grape cultivation began in Levant in Egypt and as a result of this grape cultivation the royal wine industry was established in the Nile Delta in 3,200 BC. From here wine-making spread to Ancient Rome and Europe and then into Ancient China.
Golden Age: Ancient Roman wine and wine-making in Ancient China Wine-making spread from Egypt into Ancient Rome and it is during the Golden Age that wine-making really evolved with the development of Grand Cru vineyards in 200 BC. It is also during this time that wine-making began in Ancient China as a result of Zhang Qians explorations into Europe following the Han Dynasty. Knowledge of wine-making was brought back to Ancient China and viticulture began with wild Eurasian grapes found growing in China. The picture to the right is a bronze wine storage container from the Shang Dynasty c. 1600-1046 BC.
Ancient Viticulture: Romans leading the way It could be said that the Romans were the pioneers and innovators of viticulture in the ancient world. They were the first to start trellising their vines on stakes for canopy management and to start the practice of controlling sun exposure to grapes by trimming foliage etc. Previouslyvines were trained to grow up tree trunks next to the vines. The early Romans were also the first to plant their vines on hills in order to let cool air run down through the vines and also for effective water irrigation.
Ancient viticulture: Medieval times It is during the middle ages in which the viticultural practices of studying varietals and the suitability of specific vines to specific area’s was developed and became common viticultural technique throughout all of the countries in which wine was growen.
Ancient viniculture: Wine pressing The earliest archeological findings to give insight into how wine was made in ancient times has been found in Israel, Jordan and Palestine also known as the “Holy Land”. In the hills of these countries wine presses in the form of stone bases have been found. Ancient vintners would have put the grapes into the basins and stomped on them to release the juice and these would have had “square-cut or circular basins, connected by channels in series along a hillside, [which] were almost certainly used to separate grape must from its pomace of skins, seeds and other matter”,McGovern, P.E. (2003).
Ancient viniculture: wine preservation During the Neolithical period in Ancient Greece and Eqypt Terenbith tree resin was added to wine as a method of preservation and was the most popular and widespread additive in wines of the ancient world. It continued to be added to wine as a method of preservation for thousands of years. Along with Terenbith tree resin, honey, water,herbs and spices were also added to wine as a method of ‘preservation’, however rather than preserving the wine it masked the off flavours and odours of the wine once it had become oxidized.
Ancient Viticulture: wine preservation cont….. There is also other evidence from wine jars found still in tact in old ship wrecks dated back to the Pheonician’s that olive oil and tree resin was used as a method of preserving wine. The jars found in the ship wreck showed that the jars were coated with tree resin before adding the wine, olive oil was poured on top of the wine once it was poured into the jars which created a film over the wine and then the top of the jar and rim of the jar was coated in resin to seal the jar.
Ancient viniculture: Aging wine In Monastrialii, Greece jars have been found dating back to 1700 BC containing wine that shows evidence that the Ancient Greeks were most likely the first to start using oak to age their wine and give the wine more character. Oak compounds have been found in these jars containing resin wine. McGovern, P.E. (2003) states, “ This amazing finding….implies MM Winemakers intentionally introduced oak flavourant… either directly by adding chips or oak resin itself…or indirectly by stomping out the grapes in oaken wine-presses or, more impressively aging the wine in oak barrels”.
Ancient viniculture: wine storage In many Neolithical and Bronze Age sites there is evidence of ancient vintners having ‘cellars’. In Egypt rooms filled with levels of wooden slats which would have contained jars are believed to be for the storage of wine. In Jordan, Israel and Palestine there have been many stone towers which have been found which are believed to have been used for the storage of wine as the stone keeps the towers at a cool moderate temperature. It is also believed that these towers were used to store freshly picked grapes before being pressed.
Wine in primitive societies: from ordinary drink to status symbol Wine at first was a very ordinary part of everyday life in ancient times. It was much safer to drink than water as there was not the water sanitation we have today. Wine was added to water to kill bacteria in the water making it safe to drink. As wine developed and spread around the ancient world it become a status symbol, especially in Ancient Greece during the 5th and 4th centuries BC where it was drunk after a meal during a ‘Symposia’. A Symposia was a wine party where the guests would retire to an Andron which was an architectural feature often in the centre of the home.
Wine in primitive societies: wine as a status symbol The wine would be mixed in a special bowl called a ‘Krater’ and then the ceremony would be initiated with a toast to the Gods and the guests ancestors. Throughout the evening wine would continue to be drunk while having philisophicall conversation. The value of the wine being drunk would be assessed by its Strength. Alhoff, F. (2008), “Now sweetness could be indicated by the terms ‘glykys’ and ‘hedus’, the former being translated as ‘sweet’ as in “sugary” and the latter ‘sweet’ as in “delightful”
Wine in primitive societies: wine as a status symbol. The picture to the left is of a Creek boy at a symposium from an ancient Greek vase. Wine was also important in ancient royal marriages. Often children of Kings and Queens of different royal kingdoms were married to each other as a way of creating alliances between the Kingdoms. An amount of wine was often negotiated as a “gift” to the Royals of the daughter being married.
Wine in primitive societies: Religion and rituals Ancient Greeks had a god of wine Dionysus and the Ancient Romans had the god of wine Bacchus. Wine was often given as a gift to the Gods during animal sacrifices. Ancient Egyptians buried jars of wine in tombs with mummified members of the royal family, believing that they would be able to drink the wine in the after-life. Many ancient cultures also believed vines sprung from the blood of humans who fought against the Gods. To the left is a picture of Dionysus on an ancient Greek vase.
Wine in primitive societies: Religion and rituals In ancient society wine was an important part of ancient religious rituals. Alhoff, F. (2008), “As symbol and metaphor it became part of Christian and Jewish ritual. The culture of wine spread, and so did its role as a catylyst for community, for bringing together family and friends”. It was used by Catholics in communion and by Christians In Church as a symbol as the blood of Christ. A tradition that lives on in both religions today.
Wine in primitive societies: wine as an ancient Weapon and Medicine Wine as a weapon: The Cyclops used wine as a weapon. It potency was a weapon when it was used against enemies not used to drinking wine and its strength. Wine as a medicine: In Ancient Greece wine was used as a medicine for many common sicknesses, particularly it was believed to be a cure for Hemlock poisoning and was added to tree resin which was believed to have health giving properties.
Conclusion In conclusion, since humans began exploring the world they also discovered and explored wine and have over time continued to develop viticulture and viniculture to be what it is today through a slow evolution and discovery of wine varieties and wine-making techniques. Wine played an important part in ancient society, from everyday life, religion and as a way of bringing together community in ancient rituals. It was an important part bringing together ancient kingdoms and bring people together in celebration as it continues to do so today.
Bibliography Alhoff, F. (2008). Wine & Philosophy: A Symposium on Thinking & Drinking. Victoria, Australia: Blackwell Publishing. McGovern, P.E. (2003) Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture. Princeton, United States of America: Princeton University Press.
References Alhoff, F. (2008). Wine & Philosophy: A Symposium on Thinking & Drinking. Victoria, Australia: Blackwell Publishing. Fosters Group. History of Wine. Retrieved 31st July, 2009, from http://www.fosters.com.au McGovern, P.E. (2003). Ancient Wine: The Search for Origins of Viniculture. Princeton, United States of America: Princeton University Press. University of Pensylvania. University of Pensylvania Museum of Archeology & Anthropology presents: The Origins and Ancient History of Wine. Retrieved 31st July, 2009, from, http://www.museum.upenn.edu.
References Walton, S. (2005). The Ultimate Book of Cocktails. London, United Kingdom: Annes Publishing Ltd. Wikipedia. History of Wine. Retrieved on 31st July, 2009, from http://www.wikipedia.org Wikipedia. Ancient Rome and Wine Expansion of Viticulture. Retrieved on 31st July, 2009, from http://www.wikipedia.org Wine History. Retrieved on 31st of July, 2009, from http://www.winepros.com