15 April 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

White grape pips found in the Negev dated may be the oldest of its kind worldwide

Researchers from the University of York, Tel Aviv University, and the University of Copenhagen provide new insight into the mystery of ancient Gaza wine.

Grape pips discovered in an excavated Byzantine monastery in Israel provide clues to the origins of the mysterious Gaza wine and the history of grapevine cultivation in desert conditions.

One of the seeds, which was most likely from a white grape, has been dated to the eighth century and may be the oldest specimen of its kind ever found and recorded.

It is thought it could be linked to the sweet white wine – the Gaza wine – that archaeologists have seen references to in historical records but a lack of evidence of white varieties from the period has left uncertainty over its true origins, until now.

Researchers used genetic analyses to identify several different grape cultivars that were grown in Negev vineyards including both white and black grapes.

Dr. Nathan Wales from the University of York’s archaeology department commented that “this is the first time that genetics has been used to identify the color of an ancient grape and gives us a glimpse into the internationally famous Gaza wine during the period. It also gave us the opportunity to link ancient seeds with modern varieties that are still grown around the Mediterranean today.”

The wine was produced in the Negev and shipped across the Byzantine Empire. Photo: University of York
The wine was produced in the Negev and shipped across the Byzantine Empire. Photo: University of York

“The modern winemaking industry is heavily reliant on a limited number of European grape cultivars that are best suited for cultivation in temperate climates. Global warming emphasizes the need for diversity in this high-impact agricultural crop. Grapevine lineages bred in hot and arid regions, often preserved over centuries, may present an alternative to the classic winemaking grape cultivars,” the team wrote. “Our study of a legacy grapevine variety from the Negev Highlands desert of southern Israel sheds light on its genetics, biological properties, and lasting impact.”

Since the wild vine’s domestication in Southwest Asia over 6,000 years ago, it has been primarily grown for wine. The team wrote that viticulture (grape growing) and viniculture (winemaking) evolved along multiple historical pathways in various wine regions, producing a plethora of legacy cultivars.

Grapevines produced some of the highest profits of any crop in Byzantine times, and trade from the Negev, for example, with Lebanon and Crete, gave rise to modern varieties of red wine that are still produced in these areas today.

University of York

Related Articles

The ancient city of Kastabala will soon have a colonnaded Street

4 September 2021

4 September 2021

The archaeological excavation of the ancient city of Kastabala in Osmaniye Province in southern Turkey continues. Kastabala-Hierapolis is one of...

An imitation Arabic dinar discovered in Norfolk may have been made by Vikings

6 April 2023

6 April 2023

A gold disc struck with a fake inscription imitating an Arabic dinar found near Morston, Norfolk in April 2021 may...

A marble block depicting the mythological story of Actaeon, who was killed by his dogs, was found in the ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium

7 August 2022

7 August 2022

A marble block depicting the mythological story of Actaeon  (Akteon), who was killed by his dogs, was found during the...

A 3200-year-old trepanned skull discovered in eastern Turkey’s Van province

12 November 2022

12 November 2022

A 3200-year-old trepanned skull was discovered in eastern Turkey’s Van province. In the prehistoric era, Anatolia served as a transitional...

Underwater excavations start at 1,700-year-old ancient Black Sea port Kerpe

20 September 2021

20 September 2021

The traces of the ancient harbor on the Black Sea coast of Kerpe, in Kocaeli’s Kandıra district, are being brought...

The 2800-year-old Urartians Lake, which is an engineering masterpiece of its time, is drying

13 July 2023

13 July 2023

Keşiş Lake in Van, in eastern Turkey, which was built by the Urartu King Rusa 2,800 years ago, was negatively...

Shocking Images Appeared As The Waters Recede

8 February 2021

8 February 2021

As the dams recede, the remains of the flooded settlements come to light. This time Kayseri witnessed these images that...

Countless Votive Offerings Discovered at Ancient Sanctuary on Greek Island Kythnos

10 June 2023

10 June 2023

Archaeologists excavating a hilltop temple complex on the Cycladic island of Kythnos (commonly called Thermia) Greece have unearthed more than...

Japan’s Ancient Practice Of Cranial Modification: Hirota people in Tanegashima

21 August 2023

21 August 2023

A team of researchers from Kyushu University and the University of Montana has found evidence suggesting that the Hirota community,...

The Americas’ oldest known bead discovered near Douglas, Wyoming

9 March 2024

9 March 2024

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known bead in the Americas at the La Prele Mammoth site in Converse County, United...

Rare clay figurine found in Italian Cave dating back 7000 years

26 July 2023

26 July 2023

Archaeologists from Sapienza University of Rome discovered a figure with female features in the Battifratta cave, near Poggio Nativo in...

8,000-year-old Cave paintings found in Türkiye’s İnkaya Cave depict life and death

10 September 2023

10 September 2023

A number of cave paintings dating back some 8,000 years have been found in İnkaya cave in the Marmara province...

The Secret of the Shipwrecks at Theodosius Harbor: 1,600 Years Old Women’s Sandals and Comb

11 April 2023

11 April 2023

The 1,600-year-old sandals and comb unearthed during the excavations of Theodosius Harbor (Portus Theodosiacus), the second-biggest harbor built on the...

Rare Elizabethan ship discovered at a quarry

2 January 2023

2 January 2023

An Elizabethan ship in “remarkable condition” has been discovered on the lake bed of a Kent quarry, one of only...

460-Year-Old Wooden Hunting Bow Found in Alaska’s Lake Clark

11 March 2022

11 March 2022

In late September 2021, National Park Service employees made an unlikely discovery in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve in...