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back to article Archeologists toast world's oldest wine press

Archeologists rooting about in southern Armenia have unearthed what appears to be the world's oldest wine press, Reuters reports. The ancient booze-making facility was discovered in a cave complex in the Little Caucasus Mountains, close to the country's southern border with Turkey. The modest set-up comprises "a shallow clay …

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Silver badge
Pint

A toast!!

to mankind's ability for creating booze!

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Silver badge
Pint

not just booze

"The archaeologists suggest the press was possibly dedicated to providing a tipple to mourners at a caveside cemetery."

Organised management of dead people also may include some sort of official to deal with the living world / dead world interface. Coupled with the production of alcohol in some form or another this may also be the first ever instance of a religious figure, the origins of which has been a mystery for millennia.

Feck, Arse, Girls, DRINK!!!

nuff said

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Rituals...

Isn't it great how archaeologists attribute everything to rituals. Methinks they watched too many Indiana Jones films.

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Ritual

It's Archaeologist for "we don't know what it's for"

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Gold badge
WTF?

Re: Ritual

"This was a relatively small installation related to the ritual inside the cave."

Or it could just be that a small group of connoisseurs reckoned the mass-produced stuff was indistinguishable from mammoth piss and made their own on a small scale. These days we call 'em "micro-breweries".

That sounds far more likely to me than installing a wine press and all the other gubbins in the temple rather than just sending a lad down into town for a couple of bottles of drain cleaner.

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Megaphone

Archaeologists

With this artefact, they have ascribed a practical function to the object: it squashes grapes for later fermenting. So they've not said it is ritual because they don't know what it is, but because of the context in which it is found.

The reason archaeologists sometimes use "ritual" as a catch-all (and really it's not used as often as people think), is because they walk a fine line between scientific precision and wild speculation. Reporting just the facts is easy, anyone with an academic/scientific background could do it, but it would enlighten us not a jot. Where archaeologists earn their money is in the _interpretation_ of the facts, based on their academic study as well as the opinions they formed while learning the job. These opinions and interpretations could be utter toss of course, and the field is littered with archaeologists who fudge the facts to fit the theory, which is why most use broad terms (especially when dealing with the public), to avoid the problems associated with spouting controversial theories.

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Pint

ritual

Maybe it was just someones personal press, kept in the cave as somewhere convenient, secluded and out of the rain.

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Or

A speakeasy.

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Anonymous Coward

Yes ritual

and every friday he went to the cave to press and/or drink some of his wine.

That makes it a regular ritual

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Pint

Re : Ritual

Something like a pre - B&Q shed then.

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Go

making booze is easy

I could get all the ingredients and equipment for 5 litres of 17% ABV at my local supermarket in a few minutes:

1.5kg sugar

1 sachet baking yeast

1 lemon

5 litres bottled water in container of that size. (an 8 litre container is better if you can find one), container useful for fermenting vessel.

large clean airtight plastic bag and rubber band, useful substitute for proper airlock

A recipe for making booze using the above ingredients is here:

http://www.ehow.com/how_2100728_make-kilju.html

The rest is just patience, improving your technique and taste. As far as I am concerned if the government puts a minimum charge in alcohol this won't affect my homebrewing in the slightest, which produces higher quality than the above minimum ingredients would suggest or any mass-manufactured booze the supermarket sells for that matter.

Purpose bred turbo yeasts take you up to about 20% ABV.

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Thumb Down

Yep seeing the problem the Armenians had here...

4000 years ago i dont think they had supermarkets, sachets of baking yeast, or bottled water... And possibly not sugar (not being a tropical zone) or lemons.

No doubt though they had plenty of patience though... Still i dont think they quite followed your recipe...

And i bet there wine tasted much better then your swill above!

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Nope

"And i bet there wine tasted much better then your swill above"

Modern grapes (and other fruit) are the results of millennia of selective breeding. Six thousand years ago, I doubt there was any great understanding of wine making. The juice was exposed to the air in the hope it would ferment. And not turn into vinegar.

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Silver badge

Or...

No need for baking yeast. There is yeast on grapes etc. and in the air (sourdough etc).

No chlorine then so no need for bottled water. Plain water is fine for brewing. That's all I ever use.

No need for sugar either. Any fruit juice or malted grains or rice will work.

No need for lemons. Just use any flavouring herbs as was used by brewers before the days of hops.

Sourdough bread generates an alcoholic liquid that you could drink if you were seriously desperate.

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Bronze badge
WTF?

To make wine...

Or just simple grape juice?

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FAIL

Yeah thats it, grape juice! WTF!

Grape juice would last about one day before starting to work towards turning into vinegar (hence the name) or vino. No preservatives or refrigeration then.

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Happy

Let Battle Commence

I've been to Georgia (Ex USSR) a couple of times and they swear they invented the stuff.

I was being driven round the winemaking region of Racha when my driver said would I mind if he popped in and ordered some grapes for his own use. Of course I said no problem knowing it meant another drinking session was on the way! We start talking about making alcohol and I said some people brew beer in the UK as grapes are not readily available. Pity he says then buys half a tonne of grapes which he said would nearly see him through the winter.

Somehow I guess there will be a counter claim in the near future that the oldest is not in Armenia but Georgia

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RW
Boffin

"Dry reds"

No way. Other reports indicate that the wine produced with thick, syrupy, and very sweet.

PS for Paul Johnston: In fact, all those Caucasian peoples share a common culture. They differ in religion and language (especially language) but food, music, dress, dance, and many other basic cultural practices are pretty much the same throughout the region.

Georgians, Armenians, Abkhaz, Chechens, Ingush, Ossetes, Bats, you name it.

Upshot: it's irrelevant to say this or that group originated such-and-such cultural practice. Almost unquestionably vinting arose in the Caucasus, but at this late date it's impossible to say that it was by one ethnic group or another. In fact, our modern designations of Caucasian peoples can't be said to apply to the inhabitants 6000 years ago.

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Boffin

For an archeologist, perhaps Areshian is a little too loose with his words.

"The same area continues to this day to produce "rich red" merlots and cabernet sauvignons, Areshian noted."

For an archeologist, perhaps Areshian is a little too loose with his words, especially the phrase 'to this day'. This statement could be read as to imply that those grape varieties have also been around that area for 4000 or so years.

No so!

Anyway, it's certainly not so for cabernet sauvignon--nor for merlot either. Cabernet sauvignon and merlot varieties have been around for much less time--perhaps only 400 or fewer years.

A loose interpretation of the facts goes something like this:

At some point in Roman times two thousand years ago in the south of France a grape seedling took hold and sprung into a luscious grape wine. The wine from this vine so impressed the local Romans that from then on the wine was only propagated asexually by cuttings, this ensured the variety would not change over time. (Now that's what one calls cleaver idea--when you're on a good thing stick to it.)

Along the way, over the past 1600 or so years, this 'prototype' vine was crossed with others asexually (by grafting cuttings) until some 400 or so years ago when the cabernet sauvignon variety was stabilised from the excellent white variety sauvignon blanc and the red cabernet franc.

Ever since, cabernet sauvignon has been strictly reproduced by cuttings (i.e. cloning to ensure DNA purity, hence consistent (identical) reproducibility)--but with one special exception.

In the 1860s and '70s, phylloxera, an insect that kills the roots of vine stocks, started devastating European vineyards, the solution was to graft the cabernet sauvignon and others onto the hardy wild North American vine stock which was impervious to phylloxera.

Thank heavens, this anti-phylloxera success story saved the day for us wanker right-side-of-the-hill winos.

Back to roman times, wine growers have had a religious zealot-like zeal to ensure that wine varieties are not contaminated by vines actually seeding. It's the holy mantra of the wine-making industry.

Now I've told Areshian off and put him in his rightful place, I really could do with an excellent glass of cabernet.

;-)

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Joke

Drawings, runes and text on the cave wall.

Apparently some of these have been translated as "Joe's diner"

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simplest winery ever

I once saw a group of women crushing grapes with their feet on the flat roof of their village house in the mountains of Cyprus. The juice simply ran down the normal rainwater drainpipe and into a bucket which was frequently emptied into a vast circular stone pot, about 1.5m across at the belly, half embedded in the floor of one of the inner rooms. The process was simply then to wait a year until the wine was ready to drink. Absolutely nothing was done to it apparently. I had some from other house nearby - too sweet for my taste but the simplicity of the process was unforgettable.

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Bronze badge

Obviously it was Noah's place

Obviously it was Noah's place

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