[caption id="attachment_1433" align="alignright" width="300"] The ancient wine press and fermentation vat discovered in Areni[/caption]
A location in Armenia, near the village of Areni, has been the site of a recent archaeological discovery. One of the caves in the area has revealed an ancient wine press as well as fermentation and storage vessels from the Copper Age. Drinking cups were also unearthed, as were the remains of grape skins, vines, and seeds. The same cave in which the oldest shoe, a leather moccasin was found, is now also the site of this fascinating find and has been confirmed as the earliest traces of wine production known to man.
The evidence of winemaking in this location was first discovered during excavations in 2007. Later on, a few years later two further discoveries were made. The first was that of a vat, at least 2 feet deep, and the other a 3.5-foot-long basin. These sites were both constructed using clay and stood with their edges elevated along each side.
From such constructions, archaeologists determined that the people who lived during the Copper Age, used their feet to stomp the grapes, in much the same way as a wine press. The juice from the grapes in the basin was able to drain through to the vat and ferment.
[caption id="attachment_1434" align="alignleft" width="300"] An ancient cave complex in Areni[/caption]
Storage vessels which were found at the site would have been used for storing the fermented wine. The cave which has a cool, dry environment would serve as a suitable wine cellar at that time as well. The archaeological team did analysis on the pottery vessels found in the cave to determine whether the wine was stored in these containers. After running a series of tests, it was confirmed that the clay pottery vessels were indeed used to store the wine.
This discovery is seen as having an important innovation during prehistoric times. Having to grow vines and harvest grapes indicates that there had been developments in agriculture in that era. Producing wine was also a means of using the grapes which would otherwise have become inedible.
Locals would have needed to learn about the growth cycles of the vines so as to improve their annual yield. Additionally, they would also have needed to learn how to irrigate the vines effectively, using an adequate water supply and deal with pests and fungi. So, the cave dwellers learned some valuable skills and from the site we have some insight into the earliest stage of horticulture in the growth of these vines.