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World's Oldest Wine Dating Back to 1700 BC Found in Israel

Update Date: Nov 22, 2013 11:40 AM EST

Archaeologists have found what they believe is the world's oldest wine in possibly one of the oldest known wine cellars in what is now present-day Israel.

The 3,700-year-old wine cellar in Israel offers some early insights into the origins of winemaking.

The large wine cellar was unearthed in the ruined palace of a Canaanite city in northern Israel, called Tel Kabri, not far from the country's modern wineries. The excavations revealed 40 one-meter-tall jars kept in what appeared to be a storage room.

"This is a hugely significant discovery - it's a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size," says Eric Cline chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of at The George Washington University, according to a statement. Cline and Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, co-directed the excavation. Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, was an associate director.  Important guests drank this wine, added Yasur-Landau.

"This wasn't moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements," Koh notes. "This wine's recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar."

The cellar for grand, royal banquets where resident rulers and perhaps their trading partners washed down a feast of wild cattle with an intoxicating swill, according to Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the maritime relations department at the University of Haifa in Israel.

"This wine included, it is important to note, not only local materials but also possibly materials that were imported from elsewhere such as cedar oil, thus making it a very luxurious drink that was reserved for these special occasions," he said according to the NBC News.

The team's findings will be presented this Friday in Baltimore at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research.

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