The Origins and Ancient History of Wine

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

CHAPTER 11

Viticulture and Ancient Anatolia

Ronald L Gorny

(Behold) the raisin. Just as it holds its wine in (its) heart; just as the olive holds its oil in (its) heart, so you (also) Stormgod, hold wealth, life, vigor, long years (and) joy of the King, the Queen (and) their children in (your) heart.

KUB 1 33.68 obv. ii 13-16 2

Anatolia has long been linked with the origins of viticulture and wine-making, especially in its eastern region to which the ancient authors commonly ascribe its origins. 3 Noah, for instance, is credited in the Bible with planting vineyards on the slopes of Mount Ararat in eastern Turkey (Fig. 11.1 and Map 11.1), and then over-indulging in the wine produced (Genesis 8-9). Herodotus (1.193-194), in similar fashion, suggests Armenia as the source of wine-making. Opinions such as these, however, are as much legend as truth and may or may not have any real basis in fact.

The earliest native references to the wines of Anatolia are found in Old Assyrian documents from Kültepe and date to the early second millennium B.C. These citations, however, are few and somewhat limited in scope. It is not until the ensuing Hittite era (ca. 1600-1200 B.C.) that written documents from Boğazköy-

attuša finally begin to inform us about the role of viticulture during the second millennium. The first millennium witnessed further dissemination of viticulture in the Near East (cf. Stronach in this volume), and wine seems to have become more commonplace, as is attested by the introduction of new vessel shapes which become commonplace across the region and are linked with wine and its consumption (Boardman 1974:196-233).

By classical times, wine had become an integral part of the Anatolian diet and almost as many varieties existed as there were settled communities. The wines of Anatolia were fondly referred to by authors such as Pliny (Natural History, Books 14 and 23), Strabo (Geography, Book 12), and Athenaeus (Deipnosophists, Books 1-10). Among other places, well-known wines were produced along the west coast at Clazomenae (Pliny NH 14.235), Cnidos, and Telmessos (Magie 1988:518; see chapter 20 by Koehler, this volume) and on islands like Chios, Cos, and Lesbos which lie just off the coast (Pliny, NH 14.235, 251; Magie 1988:45, 51, 255, 492). Pramnian wine, which is mentioned in Homer (Iliad 11.639; Odyssey 10.235), was still being produced at Smyrna in

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