The Origins and Ancient History of Wine

By Patrick E. McGovern; Stuart J. Fleming et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

The Domestication of the GrapevineVitis Vinifera L. in the Near East
Daniel Zohary
1.

Introduction
This chapter aims at a survey of the domestication of the grapevine Vitis vinifera L. in the Old World, by attempting to answer the following questions:
1. From what wild stock did the cultivated grapevine evolve?
2. Where and when was this plant taken into cultivation?
3. What were the main developments in this fruit-crop, once it came under domestication?
As with many other Old World cultivated plants (Zohary and Hopf 1993:1), the evidence for answering these questions for the grapevine comes mainly from two sources:
1. Survey of the living wild relatives of the fruit-crop and identification of its wild ancestor. Such a survey also includes an assessment of the traits that distinguish the cultivated varieties from their wild progenitor and the determination of the genetic basis for these changes.
2. Analysis of culturally associated and well-dated grapevine remains retrieved from archaeological excavations. These archaeological studies also include the evaluation of artifacts associated with grapevine cultivation, wine production, and wine storage.

In addition, from the second part of the 3rd millennium be (non-calibrated radiocarbon 14C date) onwards, grapevine cultivation and wine production are also documented by early inscriptions-first in Mesopotamia, and soon thereafter, in Egypt (see both Powell, and James, this volume). Finally, linguistic comparisons also help in tracing the place of origin for the cultivated grapevine and the spread of viticulture and wine use (Stager 1985).

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