Sip of history: 2,000-year-old wine unearthed near Seville

Sip of history: 2,000-year-old wine unearthed near Seville.

Sip of history: 2,000-year-old wine unearthed near Seville. Image: Universidad de Cordoba.

In a recent archaeological find near Seville, Spain, researchers have uncovered what appears to be the oldest preserved wine in liquid form.

The liquid is recorded as dating back approximately 2,000 years.

The discovery took place in 2019 at a Roman necropolis in Carmona, associated with the ancient town of Carmo in Hispania Baetica.

The necropolis, remarkably intact, revealed a family mausoleum where urns containing cremated remains were placed in niches along the chamber walls.

Reddish Liquid

One urn in niche 8 stood out: made of lead and sealed with a glass jar (‘olla ossuaria’), it contained cremated bones, a gold ring depicting the god Janus, and an astonishing five litres of well-preserved reddish liquid.

Published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, researchers noted that the liquid, identified as wine through plasma mass spectrometry analysis, remained preserved within the urn.

This finding contrasts sharply with nearby niches under similar environmental conditions, which were dry.

Ceremonial Use

The presence of liquid wine in the urn suggests its ceremonial use in Roman burial rituals, aiding the deceased in their journey.

This discovery surpasses previous finds of ancient wine, such as in Speyer, Germany, where it was contained in a glass jar from the 4th century AD.

Unlike those findings, the Carmona discovery marks the first instance where ancient wine has been chemically identified in its liquid state rather than through absorbed residues.

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, UK, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 20 years.