Ancient ‘temperature-controlled’ wine cellar unearthed in Egypt

An ancient wine cellar containing coins and ceramics has been uncovered by archaeologists in Egypt.

Credit: Egypt Ministry of Antiquities

The wine cellar, located in Tel Kom al-Trogy in Biheira province in the Nile Delta, to the north of Cairo, did not contain any wine bottles, but archaeologists did uncover Ptolemaic era coins, fragments of ceramic and mosaic, as well as a sophisticated architectural design for controlling temperatures using various types and shapes of stones.

Mostafa Waziri, secretary general of Egypt’s antiquities council, described an architectural design with thick mud brick walls of various depths, mixed in with irregularly shaped limestone blocks likely used to control temperatures inside the cellar.

Dr. Waziri suggests that these blocks could have been inserted to control the suitable temperature to store the wine.

According to Dr. Ayman Ashmawy, head of the Egypt Ministry of Antiquities, the region was known for producing some of the finest wines during Egypt’s Greco-Roman period, which spanned the from 4th century BC to the arrival of Islam in the 7th Century.

Ashmawy pointed out that fragments with coloured plaster, that once covered the walls of a building, have been found along with parts of a mosaic layer that may have been used to cover its floor. These elements, he said, indicate that there is another building in the area which was likely used for the supervisors and the employees of the winery.

A collection of ovens and pottery remains from the Ptolemaic era until the Islamic period were also unearthed along with coins dated back to king Ptolemy I reigns and the Roman emperor Dumitianus and the Islamic era.

Credit: Egypt Ministry of Antiquities)

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