Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture

Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture

by Patrick E. McGovern
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691127840

ISBN-13: 9780691127842

Pub. Date: 01/02/2007

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of wine. This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, Ancient Wine opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of

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Overview

The history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of wine. This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, Ancient Wine opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of wine and the vine by drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples.

Patrick McGovern takes us on a personal odyssey back to the beginnings of this consequential beverage when early hominids probably enjoyed a wild grape wine. We follow the course of human ingenuity in domesticating the Eurasian vine and learning how to make and preserve wine some 7,000 years ago. Early winemakers must have marveled at the seemingly miraculous process of fermentation. From success to success, viniculture stretched out its tentacles and entwined itself with one culture after another (whether Egyptian, Iranian, Israelite, or Greek) and laid the foundation for civilization itself. As medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies, and society. As an evocative symbol of blood, it was used in temple ceremonies and occupies the heart of the Eucharist. Kings celebrated their victories with wine and made certain that they had plenty for the afterlife. (Among the colorful examples in the book is McGovern's famous chemical reconstruction of the funerary feast--and mixed beverage--of "King Midas.") Some peoples truly became "wine cultures."

When we sip a glass of wine today, we recapitulate this dynamic history in which a single grape species was harnessed to yield an almost infinite range of tastes and bouquets. Ancient Wine is a book that wine lovers and archaeological sleuths alike will raise their glasses to.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691127842
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
01/02/2007
Edition description:
With a New foreword by Robert G. Mondavi
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
966,740
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations xi
Preface xv
1. Stone Age Wine 1
Sifting Fact from Legend 3
Man Meets Grape: The Paleolithic Hypothesis 7
Whence the Domesticated Eurasian Grapevine? 11
When and Where Was Wine First Made? 14
2. The Noah Hypothesis 16
Genetics and Gilgamesh 16
Transcaucasia: The Homeland of Viniculture? 19
Exploring Georgia and Armenia 21
Ancient DNA 25
Casting a Wider Net in Anatolia 29
The Indo-European Homeland 30
"Noah's Flood" 35
Farther Afield 37
3. The Archaeological and Chemical Hunt for the Earliest Wine 40
Godin Tepe 40
Molecular Archaeology Comes of Age 48
Identifying the Godin Tepe Jar Residues by Infrared Spectrometry 51
Archaeological Inference 54
From Grape Juice to Wine to Vinegar 55
Winemaking at the Dawn of Civilization 58
The First Wine Rack? 60
A Symposium in the True Sense of the Word 61
4. Neolithic Wine! 64
A Momentous Innovation 65
Liquid Chromatography: Another Tool of Molecular Archaeology 68
Ancient Retsina: A Beverage and a Medicine 70
A Media Barrage 72
Wild or Domesticated Grapes? 74
More Neolithic Wine Jars from Transcaucasia 74
Creating a Ferment in Neolithic Turkey: A Hypothesis to Be Tested 78
5. Wine of the Earliest Pharaohs 85
A Royal Industry Par Excellence 85
An Amazing Discovery from a Dynasty 0 Royal Tomb 91
Ancient Yeast DNA Discovered 103
6. Wine of Egypt's Golden Age 107
The Hyksos: A Continuing Taste for Levantine Wines 107
Festival Wine at the Height of the New Kingdom 120
Wine as the Ultimate Religious Expression 134
Wines of the Heretic King, Akhenaten, and of Tutankhamun 137
The Vineyard of Egypt under the Ramessides 141
7. Wine of the World's First Cities 148
A Beer-Drinking Culture Only? 149
Banqueting the Mesopotamian Way 158
Wine, Too, Was Drunk in the Lowland Cities 160
Transplanting the Grapevine to Shiraz 164
8. Wine and the Great Empires of the Ancient Near East 167
Wine Down the Tigris and Euphrates 168
Wines of Anatolia and the Lost Hittite Empire 174
Assyrian Expansionism: Cupbearers, Cauldrons, and Drinking Horns 188
The Fine Wines of Aram and Phoenicia 201
Eastward to Persia and China 206
9. The Holy Land's Bounty 210
Winepresses in the Hills, and Towers and Vineyards in the Wadi Floors 212
The Success of the Experiment 217
Serving the Needs of a Cosmopolitan Society 220
Wine for the Kings and the Masses 225
Dark Reds and Powerful Browns 233
Wine: A Heritage of the Judeo-Christian Tradition 236
10. Lands of Dionysos: Greece and Western Anatolia 239
Drinking the God 240
A Minoan Connection? The Earliest Greek Retsina 247
Wine Mellowed with Oak 259
"Greek Grog": A Revolution in Beverage Making 262
Wine and "Greek Grog" during the Heroic Age 268
11. A Beverage for King Midas and at the Limits of the Civilized World 279
King Midas and "Phrygian Grog" 279
Re-creating an Ancient Anatolian Beverage and Feast 293
To the Hyperborean Regions of the North: "European Grog" 296
12. Molecular Archaeology, Wine, and a View to the Future 299
Where It All Began 299
Consumed by Wine 302
Why Alcohol and Why Wine? 305
The Lowly Yeast to the Forefront 307
Mixing Things Up 308
Wine, the Perfect Metaphor 312
Selected Bibliography 317
Illustration Credits and Object Dimensions 329
Index 335

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