Analysis of 1,500-year-old wine jugs reveals startling insights into how ancient Romans kept their libations so delicious

Wine consumption in ancient Rome was divinely ubiquitous, available not only to aristocrats and emperors, but also to slaves, peasants, men and women. Yet, although scholars have known for some time, exactly How? ‘Or’ What The ancient Romans kept their wine safe and full of flavor was not clear.

But now a study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal PLOS ONE reveals new details about these mysteries.

The authors examined three 1,500-year-old Romans amphorae (jugs used to transport wine) that were quarried from a seabed deposit found at San Felice Circeo, about 55 miles southeast of Rome.

For the study, led by chemist Louise Chassouant, scientists using methods in the burgeoning field of archaeobotany (the study of plant remains) were able to determine how the ancient Romans made wine and what elements they were using in the process.

By examining the chemical deposits found in the amphoras, the remains of plant tissue and the pollen, the researchers were able to determine which grape derivatives were used, but also, more importantly, how the ancient people could insulate their jugs and waterproof them.

The study found that pine was used to create a kind of waterproofing tar to coat the insides of jars, but also speculated that it could have been done to flavor fermenting grapes.

Interestingly, the study also determined that because the pine was not local to the region, it would likely have been imported from Calabria or Sicily, adding credence to existing archaeological and historical evidence of trade links between the regions. 1500 years ago.

Altogether, the authors emphasized that using a multidisciplinary approach was key to their findings. By examining not only chemical analysis, but also historical and archaeological records, plant remains, and the design of individual amphorae, “we have taken the conclusion further in understanding ancient practices than it would have been with a single approach,” the scientists wrote. .

What would it have been like to have a glass of wine with Augustus or Justinian? This we will probably never know, but we are now one step closer to understanding the Dionysian activities of ancient Roman wine lovers. Hi!

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