Ancient wine jar shows winemaking goes back 8,000 years in Armenia

Anthropologist Patrick McGovern from the University of Pennsylvania has been searching for the origins of wine for years and his investigation took him into the mountainous areas of modern Georgia, Armenia and Iran near the Black Sea. These areas are where the ancestors of modern-day wine grapes originally grew wild. Ancient writings from these areas point to wine being integral in that region and an established part of the culture thousands of years ago.

According to McGovern and his partner in the research David Lordkipanidze, the director of the Georgian National Museum, the duo wanted to back up the belief in that area having the oldest winemaking tradition in the world with scientific evidence. The duo and their team looked at two very old archeologic sites in Georgia.

The pottery analyzed looking for traces of substances like tartaric acid. That acid is the chemical fingerprint of grapes and means that the jar once held wine or a grape product. The oldest of the jars investigated was 8,000 years old and it showed the earliest evidence over of humans consuming juice from Eurasian grapes.

Those same grapes are the foundation of the modern wine industry. One of the jars had illustrations of people under grape vines dancing away. McGovern says that he saw the same motif on a modern building in Georgia's capital city.

One of the jars that were studied is in the Georgian National Museum. Georgia has a major wine industry even today and Lordkipanize says that this is an opportunity to show the world the wine industry is not only good but ancient.