Skip to main content

The Herbal Wines of Ancient Egypt in The Tomb of the Scorpion King


http://0.tqn.com/d/archaeology/1/0/3/6/1/3Winecellar.jpgWine Jars in the Tomb of Scorpion I
In the 1990s, a multi-chambered tomb was discovered at Abydos on the middle Nile River in Upper Egypt. The tomb, called U-j, has been attributed to one of the earliest of Egyptian kings, Scorpion I, from Dynasty 0. Excavated by G. Dreyer of the German Archaeological Institute, the site is attributed to the Naqada IIIa2 period, and was built about 3150 BC.
Three rooms of the tomb contained about 700 jars that were apparently imported from the Levant region, and inside the jars was discovered a residue of an early form of herbal wine. The recipes identified within the pots illuminate a long history of the Egyptian use of grape wines flavored with tree resins, herbs, and figs.

 Scorpion I’s tomb at Abydos, showing one of the chambers filled with wine jars before excavation.
The styles of the jars in the Scorpion King's tomb were from a variety of groups in Southern Palestine, including the Gaza Strip region and the coastal plain of Israel; the Judean Hills; the Jordan Valley and the Transjordan region. None of the jars tested were made from Egyptian clay. The origins of the pots were determined using instrumental neutron activation analysis of the clay bodies—determining where the clay came from—using the archaeometry laboratory at the University of Missouri, and supported by traditional pottery style analysis.
Sites in the Levant which have produced pots of the same shapes and decoration styles, and are known to have yielded domesticated grape pits and berries, include 'En Besor near Gaza, Jericho in the southern Jordan Valley, Bab edh-Dhra' on the Dead Sea and Jawa in the northern Transjordan region. Interestingly, clay sealings on the jars were made with Nile clay.
 these jars were manufactured in various regions of the southern Levant, and probably filled with wine in those locations before being shipped to Egypt. The wine was opened and then resealed in Egypt before being deposited in the tomb

 Sherd with Wine Residue from the Tomb of Scorpion I at Abydos, Egypt, ca. 3150 B.C
The yellowish linear stain on the inside of this jar from the Scorpion King's tomb is an ancient residue of organic materials, left over when the wine itself evaporated away. The residue collected at the top of the wine, and its tilted horizon results from the wine jar being tilted in the tomb rooms.
Chemical analysis of the residue was conducted using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry analysis, a technique developed at the University of Barcelona and exercised at the Scientific Services Division of the Tax and Trade Bureau. The analysis identified the wine's components as a mixture of balm, coriander, mint and sage, to which an aromatic resin and fig was added. Most importantly, the chemical analysis identified the presence of tartaric acid/tartrate, meaning the wine was also made up of grapes.

 Early Byzantine Amphora from Gebel Adda, with wine residues laced with rosemary and pine resin
In addition to identifying the earliest use of grape wine in Egypt, and illuminating trade connections between the Levant and the earliest dynastic periods of the ancient Egyptian civilization, the research does much to assist in the identification of ancient herbal recipes in the ancient world. Prior to this finding, textual sources were the primary source of information for the use of resinated wines and herbal remedies in Egypt, and most of them date to the New Kingdom, some 1200 years later than the Scorpion King.
The ancient Egyptian word for physician is "swnw" and the Scorpion King's successor Djer was called a physician in (much) later texts. The herbs found in the wine are all Levantine domesticates; but according to Egyptian records from the New Kingdom, several of them were used for medicinal purposes. Coriander is mentioned in several medical prescriptions, and eight baskets of it were recovered from Tutankhamen's 18th Dynasty tomb.
The amphora illustrated above was recovered from the early Byzantine site of Gebel Adda in Egypt (4th-6th century AD) some 3500 years after the Scorpion King. Yet it, too, contained resinated wine with a rosemary additive, attesting to the longevity of herbal wines in the Egyptian civilization.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How ancient Egyptians Were cutting the Obelisk from the Granite quarry?

Today, quarrymen cut and carve granite using saws with diamond-edged blades and steel chisels.

But ancient Egyptian quarrymen and stonemasons didn't have these modern tools. How, then, did they quarry and cut such clean lines in their obelisks and other monumental statuary?
To find out how ancient Egyptians quarried huge pieces of granite for their obelisks, i traveled to an ancient quarry in Aswan, located 500 miles south of Cairo. This is where the ancient Egyptians found many of the huge granite stones they used for their monuments and statues.

One of the most famous stones left behind is the Unfinished Obelisk, more than twice the size of any known obelisk ever raised. Quarrymen apparently abandoned the obelisk when fractures appeared in its sides. However, the stone, still attached to bedrock, gives important clues to how the ancients quarried granite.

Archeologist Mark Lehner, a key member of nova expedition, crouches in a granite trench that abuts one side of…

Hesi-re, the first Dentist, in ancient Egypt and in the world

Hesire was a high official who lived during the reign of Netjerikhet (Dosjer) 2686 BC to 2613 BC . His tutelary informs us of the many offices he had held during his life. Thus he was the 'overseer of the royal scribes', at the head of the royal administration of Djoser. His most spectacular title, however, was that of the 'greatest (or chief ?)of physicians and dentists'. It is not entirely clear whether this title infers that Hesire himself was honored as the greatest of physicians and dentists, or rather that he was merely responsible for the administration of physicians and dentists. But whatever the case, the distinction between 'physicians' and 'dentists' in his tutelary does show a high degree of medical specialization at this early stage of the history of Ancient Egypt..

Das Tal der Koenige

Die geographische Lage
Das Gebiet bei Theben lieferte ein vorzügliches Gebiet für das Anlegen einer königlichen Nekropole. Vom Westufer des Nils erstreckt sich eine flache Ebene zu einer Bergkette mit zahlreichen abgeschiedenen Tälern, die sich zwischen hohen Klippen und weichem Gestein durchschlängeln. Die Ebene eignete sich ideal für das Errichten der königlichen Totentempel. Die Täler hingegen boten genügend Platz, um viele kunstvoll in den Fels gehauene Gräber anzulegen. Auch aus symbolischen Gründen wählten die Alten Ägypter diesen Platz für das Errichten einer Nekropole. Blickt man von der Stadt Theben über den Nil auf das thebanische Bergmassiv, dann ähnelt es in der Gestalt einer riesigen Version der Hieroglyphe für "Horizont". Es ist das ägyptische Symbol für das Gebiet der auf- und untergehenden Sonne. Im Neuen…