Israeli researchers find ancient winery in Canaanite palace

Jerusalem, March 7 (IANS) Researchers have for the first time discovered a winery within a Canaanite palace belonging to the Middle Bronze Age in the excavations of ancient Israel.

The winery produced high quality wine that helped the Canaanite ruling family to impress their visitors, heads of important families, out of town guests, and envoys from neighbouring states, the research revealed.

“All the residents of the Canaanite city could produce simple wine from their own vineyards. But, just before it was served, the wine we found was enriched with oil from the cedars of Lebanon, tree resin from Western Anatolia, and other flavourings, such as resins from the terebinth tree and honey. That kind of wine could only be found in a palace,” said Assaf Yasur-Landau, professor at the University of Haifa in Israel.

The researchers unearthed new storerooms that were probably used for mixing wines with various flavourings and for storing empty jars for filling with the mixed wine.

On the basis of ancient Ugaritic documents, the value of the wine in the storeroom could be estimated at a minimum of 1,900 silver shekels, the researchers noted.

The excavation conducted in 2015 found that the northern opening to the ancient rooms, discovered earlier at the archaeological site, led to a passage to another building.

Both sides of the passage were lined with “closets” containing additional jars. The southern opening led to a room that was also full of jars buried under the collapsed walls and roof, which was an additional storeroom.

“We found that this storeroom also had an opening at its southern end leading to a third room that was also full of shattered jars. And, then, we found a fourth storeroom” Yasur-Landau said.

Each of the new jars were sampled in order to examine its contents. The initial results showed that while all the jars in the first storeroom were filled with wine, in the other store rooms some of the jars contained wine, others appear to have been rinsed clean, while others still contained only resin, without wine.

Two years ago, around 40 almost-complete large jars were found in one of the rooms, and chemical analysis proved that they were filled with wine with special flavourings, such as terebinth resin, cedar oil, honey, and other plant extracts.

The finding of the study was presented at the conference “Excavations and Studies in Northern Israel,” which took place at the University of Haifa, and on May 16 at the Oriental Institute in Chicago, US.

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