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Cultivation of vines for winemaking occurred sometime between 4000-6000 BC in the mountains between the Back and Caspian Seas (the mountains of Kurdistan and Eastern Turkey).

Seas (the mountains of Kurdistan and Eastern Turkey). The first wine would have been discovered by

The first wine would have been discovered by chance, probably around 10,000 – 8000 BC, when someone drank the fermented juice of wild grapes that had been collected and stored.

The hearth of viticulture (growing of grape vines) lay to the North of the great plains of the Tigris and Euphrates, which formed the core of the Sumerian, Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian empire and also to the East of the heartland of the Hittite empire in what is now Turkey. It is in the records of these civilizations that the first real evidence for viticulture and vinification is to be found.

evidence for viticulture and vinification is to be found. Mesopotamia to 2500 BCE By the beginning

Mesopotamia to 2500 BCE

By the beginning of the third millennium BC (3000 BC) with the establishment of the Sumerians in Southern Mesopotamia (the plains between the Tigris and Euphrates), there is clear evidence of the cultivation of vineyards. However, wine does not appear to have been common, and both barley and dates were probably the main sources of alcoholic beverages for the majority of the population.

Tablets discovered in Lagash and Ur indicate that in the first half of the third millennium BC, vines were grown in a number of small irrigated vineyards often forming part of temple complexes and that additional wine was also imported to Sumer from the mountains to the East. The great cities of the Sumerians, particularly Ur and Lagash, lay at a latitude of about 31° North, the Southernmost limit of vine cultivation. This was probably the main reason that viticulture never really flourished in these lands better suited to dates.

The mountains to the East from where the Sumerians apparently imported some of their wine were possibly the Zagros range of Western Iran; higher altitudes will have provided cooler winters.

The great city states of Sumer lay well to the South and it is probable that land nearer the sources of the Tigris and Euprates was more extensively used for vine cultivation.

With the collapse of the Sumerian empire at the beginning of the second millennium BC, and the rise of the Assyrians whose power base lay more to the north-west, initially in the upper Tigris and then at Babylon, the centre of political and economic power moved towards lands more suitable for vines.

economic power moved towards lands more suitable for vines. Mesopotamia to 1200 BCE As the code

Mesopotamia to 1200 BCE

As the code of Hammurabi dating from c. 1700 BC makes clear, economically the most important drink in Babylon was beer. However wine was essential for certain religious ceremonies and was also consumed by the ruling elite.

By the first millennium BC, with the rise of the new Assyrian empire, the balance of power shifted further north still to the towns of Ashur, Nimrud and then Nineveh. By this date extensive evidence of vine cultivation and wine production is to be found and Nineveh, near the foothills of the mountains where vines were probably first domesticated, became renowned for its wines.

This northern power base did not last. With the destruction of the Assyrian cities in the seventh century BC a new Babylonian empire was formed under Nabopolassar (625-05 BC) and then Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC), before Babylon too was to fall to the Persians under Cyrus II in 539 BC.

On the western borders of Nebuchadnezzar’s great empire lay the Mediterranean, and on the hills of western Syria and Palestine, where temperatures were cooler and altitudes higher than in the great plains across the desert to the east , further vineyards were to be found. It is likely that it was down this warm temperature corridor, between the desert and the sea, that the art of viticulture first reached Egypt. However, like the Mesopotamian cities of Ur and Babylon, northern Egypt lies at the southernmost limit of modern viticulture in the northern hemisphere., with Memphis being just to the south of latitude 30° north. It was therefore only thru the cooling effect of the Mediterranean that viticulture was enabled to flourish in the Nile delta.

Egypt The inhabitants of Dynastic Egypt have left us with a magnificent pictorial record of viticulture. As in Mesopotamia, beer was the main alcoholic beverage in ancient Egypt, but from the end of the fourth millennium and beginning of the third millennium BC, wine appears to have been used by the kings and priests, with large wine cellars being found in association with the temples of First Dynasty kings. Much of the wine consumed in Egypt was produced from dates, but there is good evidence that true wine made from grapes was also to be found there from an early date, alongside wine made from other fruits such as pomegranates.

During the third millennium and the first half of the second millennium it seems that

During the third millennium and the first half of the second millennium it seems that vineyards were mainly owned by the king, the priesthood and some great officials.

Socially, all forms of alcohol, as in Assyria and Babylonia were commonly drunk to a state of intoxication. At the feasts of the upper classes wine was the crowning glory. However it is clear that date wine, pomegranate wine, beer and other drinks were also consumed, and there is no real evidence that wine had achieved the position of religious and social dominance in Egypt that it was later to assume in Greece and Italy.

Syria and Anatolia Mesopotamia and Egypt have preserved the best early evidence of viticulture, vinification and wine consumption. However, it is clear that the population of these countries imported large amounts of wine from elsewhere. In particular, by the middle of the third millennium BC, much of the wine consumed in Egypt came from Palestine and Syria, and it seems that, despite the lack of direct evidence, viticulture must have predated its introduction further south into Egypt. It has been suggested that viticulture may have already been established in Syria as early as 5000 BC, although the earliest firm evidence of grape seeds is not found until 3000 BC at Jericho. Climatically and environmentally, Syria was well suited to viticulture, with its hills and mountains providing both the cool winters and long hot summers required by the vine.

By the beginning of the first millennium BC, with the rise to power of the seafaring Phoenicians, based on the city states of Aradus, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon and, most important of all, Tyre, the wines of Lebanon were being traded extensively in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.

To the north-west of Syria lay Anatolia, the heartland of the Hittite kingdom, which emerged as a major regional power during the second millennium BC. Its close proximity to the hearth of viticulture suggests that vines may have been cultivated here in Eastern Turkey at a date similar to the development of viticulture in Syria.

Viticulture must have also spread eastwards at an early date, enabling the Sumerians to import wine from ‘the mountains to the east’ (Zagros mountains) in the third millennium BC.

Contemporary with the Middle Kingdom in Egypt, and providing another source of demand for wine, was the emergence of Minoan culture in Crete. Here it seems that beer brewed from barley was initially the most popular drink, but by 1700 BC in late Minoan times it had become supplemented by wine. By the fifteenth century BC, with the Mycenaean conquest of Crete, viticulture had become firmly established on the island.


By the fifteenth century BC, with the extension of Mycenaean Greek power eastwards and to the south, viticulture had become established on mainland Greece. Among the gods named on the Linear B tablets in a wine cellar discovered at athe palace of Pylos, there is mention of the god Dionysus, who was later to become known throughout the Greek world as the god of wine. It was these Mycenaeans who featured in Homer’s epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, which were probably written during the eighth century BC. The content of both poems owes much to Homer’s own age, but they referred to a time four centuries earlier during and following the fall of Troy, which is traditionally dated to 1184 BC. Both poems reflect a widespread use of wine for libations and feasting. The cult of Dionysus emerged in Thrace. There are many myths and legends associated with Dionysus, but the key elements in his mythology are that he was the son of Zeus and Semele, daughter of Cadmus, the King of Thebes; that he was brought up by nymphs on the slopes of a fabled mountain called Nysa, where he was educated by the muses and other secondary gods; that on reaching maturity he discovered how to make wine from grapes; and that he then took his discovery to Attica, Phrygia, Thrace and elsewhere. Significantly, though, there was a Greek tradition that Dionysus, turned away from Mesopotamia because its inhabitants preferred beer.

From being a god of the vine and wine, Dionysis also rapidly became the essential power of nature. His domain was not only the liquid fire in the grapes, but the sap thrusting in a young tree, the blood pounding in the veins of a young animal, all the mysterious and uncontrollable tides that ebb and flow in the life of nature. His followers sought communion with the god thru the drinking of the deity in the form of wine or thru the frenzied dancing by women on mountain tops in imitation of the Maenads. The culmination of this dancing, in which only women were allowed to participate, was the tearing to pieces of an animal and the ritual eating of its raw flesh, which then empowered them with its own vitality.

Dionysus, under the name of Bacchus, was familiar in Italy from well before the second century BC. The Roman senate soon came to regard the Bacchic rituals as being a threat to public security, and banned them in 186 BC.

Chronology of Mesopotamia from 8000 BC to 1600 BC

Neolithic Age or Stone Age (8000 BC – 3500 BC) – domestication of plants and animals with the use of stone tools.

Bronze Age in Tigris and Euphrates (3500 BC – 1200 BC) Early Phase – Sumerians and rise of Akkad to predominance in Mesopotamia. Middle Phase – Babylon Late Phase – Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece

Iron Age (1200 BC)

Sumer (c. 3100-c. 2000 BCE)

Birthplace for the first civilization in world history. The history of Sumer is counted as lasting from about 3500 BCE until 2000 BCE, where after other cultures, based upon the Sumerian, continued the civilization. These cultures were principally the Assyrian and the Babylonian. Sumer represented one half of Mesopotamia, Akkad, to the north, represented the other half. The heartland of Sumer corresponds much to the heartland of Babylonia.

of Sumer corresponds much to the heartland of Babylonia. Society And Economy From early on, Sumer

Society And Economy From early on, Sumer consisted of 12 city-states: Adab, Akshak, Bad-tibira Erech, Kish, Lagash, Larak, Larsa, Nippur, Sippar, Umma and Ur. These city-states were independent entities, that often waged war against each other, but there were also wars against a unity of them and Akkad and Elam. Central in every city was the temple, and every city had its own deity, that was believed to protect the city. The city was fortified, and to it a rural zone belonged where agriculture was performed. The major crops were barley, wheat, dates and vegetables. They also raised cattle, donkeys, sheep and goats. Textiles were made from wool from the sheep. The Sumerians also performed trade with foreign countries; they even trade with other peoples out in the Persian Gulf, from where they among other things bought home ivory and other luxury items.

Culture And Science The Sumerians were the first to start using the alloy bronze, which allowed them the development of much better instruments than what had been possible before. The discovery of how to mould bronze soon spread all over the rest of the Middle East. Among the earliest cultural expressions in Sumer, was pottery. Around 3000 BCE the Sumerians started carving in stones and shells, and creating statues. Jewellery was also created from gold and silver. It was the inhabitants of Sumer that developed the first pictographic writing system, which after a few hundred years developed into the writing style that we now call cuneiform. They also developed what is the oldest known law system, as well as the city-state, as it is known through cities like principally Ur. The city-state was a prerequisite for urbanization in those days - the city had to precede the state. The Sumerians also developed the studies of mathematics, astronomy, along with other sciences. The Sumerians developed many ways of understanding time. They even had an accurate calendar that was vital to planning agriculture. The Sumerians also developed pseudo-science like astrology, within the context of religion. They believed that the stars on the sky were gods that controlled the events in the world, and that the position between these gods could be used to predict events in the world, as well as the fortune for individuals. The architecture of Sumer was limited, in the respect that there were no solid building materials available in the region. Stone, metal and wood had to be imported. Therefore, they had to use mud and reed for most houses, but this gradually developed into using mud brick. Of technical developments, Sumerians developed the potter's wheel, the sailboat and the seed plow.

History Second half 5th millennium BCE: A non-Semitic people moves into Mesopotamia, and gradually start developing the area. The people are called proto-Euphrateans or Ubadians (after the village Al-Ubaid, where their earliest remains were discovered). The main achievements of the Ubaidians were draining the marshes so that they could be used in agriculture; they developed trade and established industries like weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry and pottery. Around 4000: Semites move in from the desert of modern Syria and Arabia. Around 3500: The oldest document describing the wheel. Around 3300: A people called Sumerians move into the territory. We do not know with certainty from where they came, but it is often suggested that their homeland was today's Turkey. Around 3100: The cuneiform writing system is starting to be used. Around 2800: The king of Kish, Etana, manages to defeat the other city states, and unites the country. 28th century: King Meskiaggasher of Erech takes control of Sumer and extends his kingdom an area from Mediterranean Sea to the Zagros Mountains. Around 2700: King Enmebaragesi becomes the ruler of Sumer, and wins over Elam. He makes Nippur the cultural centre of Sumer. 27th century: King Mesanepeda of Ur defeats the ruler of Sumer, and founds what is referred to as the 1st dynasty of Ur. Around 2500: King Lugalanemundu of Adab extends Sumer to cover the area from the the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, bordering the Taurus mountains in the north, and the Zagros mountains in the east. 25th century: Conflicts between the city-states of Sumer, making the entire country weaker. Around 2330: Sargon 1 the Great conquers all of Sumer, and makes the north-mesopotamian city Agade his new capital. This became the beginning of the Akkadian dynasty. Around 2220: The Gutians from the Zagros mountains conquer and take control over Akkad and Sumer. Around 2150: The rulers of Lagash rise to become important political factors in Sumer, but is still under the governance of Gutian rulers. Around 2115: Sumer comes back under local rulers, when Utuhegal of Erech beats the Gutians. Around 2100: Ur-Nammu, a general, founds the 3rd dynasty of Ur. 21st century: Sumer flourishes under stable leadership. Around 2000: The Elamites destroy Ur and capture the king. 20th century: Many wars between city-states in Sumer, at first between Isin and Larsa, later between Larsa and Babylon. Around 1900: The Semitic tribe Amorites conquers most of Mesopotamia, and establishes their kings in Babylon. 1792: Hammurabi becomes king of Babylonia, and over the next 3 decades he made Babylon the strong power in Mesopotamia. From him, we stop talking about Sumer, and start talking about Babylonia. However, Sumerian culture became a central part of Babylonian society.

Akkad (c.2350-2200 BCE)

Ancient region in Mesopotamia, the northwestern half of this region, until the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century. The other, southern half of Mesopotamia was Sumer. Between the two regions, many wars were fought but they both also had to defend themselves against enemies in neighbouring countries. The Akkadian homeland was the area where the Euphrates and Tigris were at their closest, a position corresponding approximately to today's Baghdad.

corresponding approximately to today's Baghdad. Akkad had its name from the city Agade, founded by Sargon

Akkad had its name from the city Agade, founded by Sargon around 2330 BCE. For about a century, Agade was the richest and most important city in the world. The inhabitants of Akkad were Semits, and they spoke Akkadian, which was to become one of the dominating languages of Mesopotamia.

History Around 2330: Sargon 1 the Great conquers all of Sumer, and makes the north mesopotamian city Agade his new capital. This became the beginning of the Akkadian dynasty. His kingdom came to be known as 'Sumer and Akkad'. 2279: Sargon dies, and is succeeded by his son. Around 2220: Akkad is conquered and sacked by the Gutians from the Zagros Mountains. The Gutians took control over Sumer as well.

Babylonia (c.2000-1600 BCE)

The Babylonian kingdom flourished under the rule of the famous King, Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC). It was not until the reign of Naboplashar (625-605 BC) of the Neo-Babylonian dynasty that the Mesopotamian civilization reached its ultimate glory. His son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 BC) is credited for building the legendary Hanging Gardens. It is said that the Gardens were built by Nebuchadnezzar to please his wife or concubine who had been "brought up in Media and had a passion for mountain surroundings".

The Technological History of Wine Flavor

Introduction If we look at wine as a chemist would we see a glass of clear usually colored liquid. A solution of chemicals. Complex is the mixture of the chemicals found in wine but chemicals they are. Nothing more, nothing less! Certainly wine chemicals are formed by and derived from living systems, grapes, yeast, bacteria, wood, corks, molds, etc. and in that sense they are natural products. The field of science dedicated to the study of chemicals from living systems is called Natural Products Chemistry, however, that doesn't mean that wine is "natural" in the sense that it can be produced without human technology. Wine is a technological product of man and its unique nature derives from that technology. Its sensory properties are the direct result of the technology that produces it. A knowledgeable wine drinker can recognize the technology that produced the wine by simply observing its sensory properties.

Viticulture We can learn a lot about the nature of pre Hellenic viticulture from a painting on a Greek vase called an amphora made in 550 BC. It shows the way grapes were grown in ancient Greece and probably in much of the Mediterranean. Notice that grape vines shown here were very large vines supported on trees producing with many clusters (the large clusters is certainly an exaggeration). Grown like this the grape juice would have a very high acid content and a very low sugar content. However, still today there is a wine produced in Portugal from grapes grown on high trellises. Called Vinho Verde, this wine has a high acidity and a taste that evokes images of the ancient wines of the Mediterranean.

evokes images of the an cient wines of the Mediterranean. Fermentation We can learn a lot

Fermentation We can learn a lot about the nature of pre Hellenic enology from another painting from a black figure vase made about 550 BC. Instead of peasants this picture shows satyrs harvesting, crushing, and decanting: the technological processes that convert grapes to must, must to wine and wine to amphoras. Amphora's that can be bought and sold, stored, exported, taxed and stolen. The stuff that feeds commerce and fuels civilization. All the technology needed to make a stable, safe and portable product are clearly shown on the vase. The vinification process begins in a treading basket on a platform with a trough and spout to collect the juices as it filters through the basket and delivers it to the most important technology of the time: the amphora.

to the most important technology of the time: the amphora. The Role of the Amphora Imagine

The Role of the Amphora Imagine grapes covered with microorganism, insect fragments, rodent hairs, and bird droppings being trod by a large unwashed human with a runny nose, perhaps a touch of diarrhea or some other diseased effluvia, dribbling into the crushing grapes. But then magic happens. For once the juice is placed in the amphora and begins to ferment all pathogenic organisms die, killed by acid released from vacuoles in the grapes and the alcohol produced during the fermentation. What ever else happens, no matter what other benefits the wine will bring (nutritional or narcotic), it will always be safe to drink; often

safer than the water in the brook or the city cisterns or even the wells on the