Ancient Wine Cellar Reveals a Sophisticated Drink

NEW YORK (AP) -

Scientists have uncovered a wine cellar in the ruins of a palace in Israel that they believe to be 3,700 years old, and chemical analysis shows this is where they kept the good stuff.

Samples from the ceramic jars suggest they held a luxurious beverage that was evidently reserved for banquets, researchers said.

“It’s not wine that somebody is just going to come home from a hard day … and drink,” said Andrew Koh of Brandeis University. He found signs of a blend of ingredients that may have included honey, mint, cedar, tree resins and cinnamon bark.

The discovery confirms how sophisticated wines were at that time, something suggested only by ancient texts, said Eric Cline of George Washington University. He, Koh and Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa in Israel spoke to reporters Thursday before their work was presented Friday at a meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

The wine cellar was found this summer in palace ruins near the modern town of Nahariya in northern Israel. Researchers found 40 ceramic jars, each big enough to hold about 13 gallons, in a single room.

The unmarked jars are all similar, as if made by the same potter, Yasur-Landau said. Chemical analysis indicates that the jars held red wine and possibly white wine, Koh said. No liquid was left, and he analyzed residues he had removed from the jars.