Scientists Find 6,100-Year-Old Winemaking Operation

Archaeologists found a 6,100-year-old "winemaking operation" in the same Armenian cave where they found a 5,500-year-old shoe. You know what that means? Humans have been making wine for 600 years longer than they have been wearing shoes!

Well, okay, it doesn't actually mean that, at all. But would you be so surprised? Human beings love wine! And they loved it some 6,100 years ago:

Stefan K. Estreicher, a professor at Texas Tech University and author of "Wine: From Neolithic Times to the 21st Century," said the Armenian discovery shows "how important it was to them" to make wine because "they spent a lot of time and effort to build a facility to use only once a year" when grapes were harvested.

The wine was probably used for ritual purposes, as burial sites were seen nearby in the cave. [Excavation co-director] Dr. [Gregory] Areshian said at least eight bodies had been found so far, including a child, a woman, bones of elderly men and, in ceramic vessels, skulls of three adolescents (one still containing brain tissue).

The winery consists of "a vat for fermenting, a press, storage jars, a clay bowl and a drinking cup made from an animal horn." It's the earliest production facility yet found, but it's not the oldest evidence of wine consumption; residue in jars found in northwest Iran suggests that winemaking dates back at least 7,400 years. Even so, its sophistication could mean that earlier winemaking was more elaborate than previously thought.

And there's something kind of nice about that, isn't there? The thought that some seven millennia ago, human beings were doing the same thing you are? Sure, they harvested, fermented and pressed all their own wine, while you just smuggled yours out of the 7-11 under your coat. And they likely drank their red wine as part of an elaborate funeral ritual, while you drink yours as part of your far less elaborate "watching King of Queens reruns" ritual. But the important part is this: 7,000 years ago, as today, human beings were getting tanked on cheap red wine.

[NYT]