wine cellar israelDigging this summer at the ruins of a 1700 B.C. Canaanite palace, known as Tel Kabri, in northern Israel, archaeologists found one of civilization’s oldest and largest wine cellars.

Near the banquet hall where rulers of a Middle Bronze Age city-state and their guests feasted, a team of American and Israeli researchers broke through to a storage room holding the remains of 40 large ceramic jars holding  the equivalent of about 3,000 bottles of red and white wines, they said. The vessels were broken, their liquid contents long since vanished — but not without a trace.

A chemical analysis of residues left in the three-foot-tall jars detected organic traces of acids that are common components of all wine, as well as ingredients popular in ancient winemaking. These included honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins used as a preservative. The recipe was similar to medicinal wines used for 2,000 years in ancient Egypt and probably tasted something like retsina or other resinous Greek wines today.

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