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17 July 2016
Wine used in ceremonies 5000 years ago in Georgia

100 kilometers west from Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, an expedition led by Elena Rova from Cà Foscari University of Venice and Iulon Gagoshidze from the Goergian National Museum Tbilisi have found traces of wine inside animal-shaped vessels from ca 3000 BCE.
     The site reveal two of these zoomorphic vessels, which are unique to this region, found with a Kura-Araxes jar, which were found in a rectangular area that could possibly be a shrine for cultic activities. Radiocarbon dating places the date of the items to between 3000-2900 BCE.
     Palynologist Eviso Kvavadze studied the vessels and found pollen of Vitis vinifera (common grape vine), this underlines the strategic role wine took in Kura-Araxes for ritualistic drinking. Professor Rova states that this is significant "because the context of discovery suggests that wine was drawn from the jar and offered to the gods or commonly consumed by the participants to the ceremony."
     Wine has been cultivated in Georgia since the Neolithic period, with this new discovery in the Kura-Araxes period; the wine culture has been pushed back more than 5,000 years ago. The wine would have been drunk from the animal horns as part of the supra, a traditional Georgian banquet.
     The excavation at Caí Foscari started in 2013 and has already made impressive discoveries, with help from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the 2015 campaign, 27 researchers and students from Italy and Georgia took part in the excavation and helped uncover these vessels. The 2016 season will run from June 17 until July 31.

Edited from ScienceDaily (14 June 2016)

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