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Bronze Age palace had its own winery

A Canaanite palace found in northern Israel actually had its own winery, not just a storeroom for wine, archaeologists now believe.

Archeologists uncovered evidence showing an ancient winery

The Bronze Age palace at Tel Kabri is nearly 4,000 years old and covers an area 6,000 metres square.

Excavations have been on-going at the site since the late 1950s with the site coming to prominence for some Minoan-style fescoes (the only ones to be found in Israel) found in the late 1980s and – perhaps more famously – for the largest ancient wine cellar ever discovered.

In 2013 the team uncovered a room filled with 40 large clay jars – capable of holding the equivalent of 3,000 modern bottles of wine.

Analysis on the jars showed they contained a number of trace elements of wine as well as herbs, spices, honey and resins which points to both flavouring and preservation of the wines.

Over the course of 2014 and 2015, more storage rooms and more jars were uncovered. Analysis of many of these jars showed they were either clean or had simply been coated with resin (in anticipation of being filled with wine no doubt).

As there a clean jars and jars that contained wine, the theory is that the more recently unearthed rooms were reserved for mixing and preparing finished wines. Archaeologists conducting the dig are now starting to think that the site included a winery as well as storerooms.

The site director, Assaf Yasur-Landau, has said: “We are starting to think that the palace did not just have storerooms for finished produce, but also had a winery where wine was prepared for consumption.”

The site is proving extremely valuable to historians’ understanding of the economy of the palace culture of the Mediterranean Bonze Age, as well as winemaking techniques of the time and even hinting at the possibility of discovering the grape varieties used by these ancient Middle Eastern vintners.

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