3000-Year Old Wine Cellar In Israel Meets Modern Science

Wine had always been an integral aspect of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cultures for centuries until Muslim rulers banned all forms of alcoholic beverages in the region following the Great Islamic Conquest.  This forcefully imposed ban eventually resulted in the planned and unplanned destruction of all wine making facilities in the region. Certain varieties of grapes that were used for making wine also disappeared over the course of time.

However, an ongoing effort by Israeli scientist Elyashiv Drori to blend science and archeology may break new grounds by shedding light on the mystery of the wines served to the kings of this ancient holy land thousands of years ago.  


Drori is currently examining roughly one kilogram of grapes stored some three thousand years ago – precisely the same era when King David and Solomon are believed to have ruled Israel. The grapes, resembling pebble like pieces after thousands of years underground, were found during an archaeological dig conducted near the Old Jerusalem city. They were preserved under layers of earth. 


These same grapes may enable Drori to trace back the roots of ancient Israeli wine made from grapes that are no longer found in the country. 

“It’s not interesting to make Chardonnay in Israel because there’s Chardonnay that comes from California,” said Drori, the agriculture and oenology research coordinator at the Samaria and Jordan Rift Center of Ariel University, as reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


“But if you can make wine in Israel that isn’t elsewhere and that connects to the history here, that’s much more interesting.”

Israel has hundreds of wineries today – but none of them make wine that can be deemed historically indigenous to the region. In fact, most of the wineries in the country use grapes that are native to Europe.


However, Drori hopes to radically change the scene by rediscovering the now-lost species of grapes used by the wineries thousands of years ago. 

With tips from a number of hitchhikers in the region, a group of students in the area was able to discover 100 variants of grapes that are unique to Israel. To Drori’s joy, at least 10 of these 100 different variants can be used to make wine. 


Drori’s next move is to use DNA analysis techniques to match the grape-variants discovered by these students with the grapes found in archaeological sites. 


Original: Snooth – Articles


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