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World’s Oldest Wine Found in 2,000-Year-Old Roman Tomb in Spain

Archaeologists have unearthed the oldest wine ever found, preserved in a Roman urn for nearly 2,000 years. The find was located in a town in southern Spain.

Oldest Wine Found in 2,000-Year-Old Roman Tomb in Spain

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The urn was discovered in Carmona, a town in the Andalusian region of southern Spain. The tomb was uncovered by a family during home renovations in 2019, who notified local authorities. The tomb remained untouched for centuries.

The tomb, sunken and excavated from rock contained eight burial niches. Six urns were found within, crafted from limestone, sandstone, glass and lead. Romans built structures over tombs to honor the deceased.

The urn contained approximately 4.5 liters (1.2 gallons) of a reddish-brown liquid, initially surprising archaeologists who expected it to be dry.

Alongside the liquid were cremated human remains, a gold ring depicting Janus and potentially the metal feet of a cremation bed.

Chemical analysis confirmed the liquid was indeed wine, a rare find as wine typically evaporates and is chemically unstable over such long periods.

The wine’s preservation was due to a hermetic seal, though the exact mechanism of this seal remains unclear. The liquid had a pH of 7.5, close to neutral.

Analysis revealed the presence of seven wine polyphenols, matching those found in modern Andalusian wines. The lack of syringic acid indicated it was a white wine, similar to contemporary fino and sherry wines from the region.

The presence of wine in a funerary urn shows the Roman customs and beliefs surrounding death and the afterlife.

This discovery surpasses the Speyer wine bottle, previously the oldest liquid wine, which dates to around AD 325.

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The methods developed for analyzing this ancient wine could benefit future research on ancient organic materials. The wine remained non-toxic and chemically stable over 2,000 years.

A tomb dating to the early first century C.E. Sunken and rock-carved leading to its exceptional preservation. Contained eight burial niches or loculi, each housing a funerary urn.

Varied materials like glass, lead, limestone and sandstone. Each urn held the remains of an individual. Two urns had inscriptions, identifying the remains of a man named Senicio and a woman named Hispanae.

An urn containing nearly five liters of reddish-brown liquid. Cremated bones of a man and a gold ring depicting the Roman god Janus were found submerged in the liquid.

Conducted by researchers from Spain’s University of Córdoba. Initial analysis suggested the liquid was wine, based on its chemical composition and presence of wine polyphenols. Compared polyphenols with those from modern Andalusian wines confirming the substance as ancient wine.

Seven types of wine polyphenols identified. pH Level measured at 7.5, similar to that of water. Absence of Syringic Acid indicated the wine was originally made from white grapes.

The practice of burying urns with wine was part of Roman funerary rituals. Typically reserved for men due to societal norms regarding alcohol consumption.

Roman burial customs included interring bodies with items for the afterlife such as perfumes and jewelry. The presence of wine suggests beliefs in providing for the deceased’s needs beyond death.

The previously oldest known liquid wine was from a tomb in Speyer, Germany, dating to 325 C.E. This new find in Carmona surpasses the Speyer wine by several centuries.

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