The oldest wine in liquid form was discovered in Spain (4 photos)

Category: Archeology, PEGI 0+
21 June 2024

Archaeologists have found an urn containing a red liquid in a 1st century AD family tomb in Carmona, Seville. Chemical analysis identified the liquid as white wine. This is the oldest specimen preserved in liquid form.

The vessel was discovered in 2019 when a family came across a burial on their property. The tomb, dating from the early 1st century AD, contained eight niches, six of which contained urns made of limestone, sandstone, glass and lead containing cremated remains and various objects characteristic of Roman funerary rituals. Two of the urns were inscribed with the names of the deceased: Hispanae and Senicio.

In the eighth niche a glass vessel with handles was stored, and inside it there were 5 liters of liquid.

An analysis carried out by experts from the University of Cordoba showed that the ancient liquid is a local wine similar to sherry.

“Very reminiscent of local wines from the wine regions of Andalusia - Montilla-Moriles, Jerez, Sanlúcar,” says José Rafael Ruiz Arrebola, an organic chemist at the University of Cordoba.

Using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, experts were able to identify the minerals in the wine, which included common elements such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. In addition, using high-performance liquid chromatography, they identified polyphenols, compounds found in grapes and, by extension, wine.

The amazing preservation of the wine is a testament to the sophisticated preservation methods used, as well as suitable climatic conditions.

Previously, the oldest wine preserved in a liquid state was the Speyer bottle, which was recovered from a Roman tomb near the German city of Speyer in 1867 and dated to approximately 325 AD.

The use of wine in Roman funeral rituals is well known and documented. The cremated remains were placed in the urn and then filled with wine to help the deceased move on to a better world.

The authors concluded that their work strongly suggests that the liquid in the urn containing the ashes was originally wine that decomposed over time, and that it is about 2,000 years old.

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