Israeli and American archaeologists have uncovered what may have been the world's oldest wine cellar in the Galilee, Business Standard reports. The cellar is estimated to be about 3,700 years old and to have held up to 2,000 liters of strong, sweet wine.
Forty intact jars were found in the cellar, which dates as far back at 1700 BCE. Each of the jars would have held fifty liters of wine. The cellar is located in the Tel Kabri ruins, which are off of Kibbutz Kabri, a village near Nahariya.
"This is a hugely significant discovery - it's a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size," said Eric Cline, chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at The George Washington University.
Cline and Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, co-directed the excavation which found the cellar in July this year.
Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at America's Brandeis University, analysed the jar fragments using organic residue analysis.
He found molecular traces of tartaric and syringic acid, both key components in wine. Koh also found compounds suggesting ingredients popular in ancient wine-making - including honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins.
Koh also analyzed the proportions of each diagnostic compound and discovered remarkable consistency between jars. "This wasn't moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements. This wine's recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar," Koh said.
Yasur-Landau noted that the wine was probably reserved for dignitaries and other important guests. "The wine cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine," he said.
According to Yisrael HaYom, the team's next project is to try to replicate the ancient wine.