CHAPTER FOUR

EGYPT II

B. wine (irp)

The grapevine (Vitis vinifera L.) is not indigenous to Egypt. Its precise origin is open to dispute, but it seems to have developed from a wild progenitor (sylvestris), which grows naturally in areas stretching from southern Europe through portions of the Near East to as far east as Turkmenistan and Tadzhikistan. Charred seeds of the cultivated grape have been documented at Tell esh-Shuna in the Jordan Valley in levels datable to the mid-fourth millennium B. C. Later fourth millennium finds of grape pips have come from Jericho, Arad, and Lachish.1 The grape, therefore, was probably first cultivated in southern Anatolia and spread southward into the Levant; from there it made its way into the Egyptian Delta certainly by the Early Dynastic period, and probably earlier.2

Origin of Egyptian winemaking

The best evidence for a southwest Asian origin for wine in Egypt comes from recent archaeological finds at Abydos. Three rooms of a royal tomb—perhaps to be ascribed to Scorpion I and dated to ca. 3150 B. C.—contained numerous whole or fragmented wine jars, originally perhaps representing up to 700 containers having a combined capacity of ca. 1,200 gallons of wine. Analysis of the clay indicated that the bottle-shaped jars, with narrow mouths that had been sealed, came from the southern Levant. The clay seals, however, were made of Egyptian mud. It remains possible that the Levantine jars had been previously imported, emptied of its contents, and used, then refilled with wine made in Egypt and sealed with Egyptian clay. If so, this would indicate Egyptian wine production at this early date. It remains more likely, however, that the vessels constitute archaeological evidence for early trade in wine from the southern

1 The wild progenitor bears the botanical name Vitis vinifer L. subsp. Sylvestris (C. C. Gmelin)
Berger. Daniel Zohary, "The Domestication of the Grapevine Vitis Vinifera L. in the Near East,"
in The Origins and Ancient History of Wine. Patrick E. McGovern, Stuart J. Fleming, and Solomon H.
Katz, eds. (Philadelphia: Gordon and Breach Publishers, 1995), pp. 24–28; Zohary and Hopf,
Domestication of plants in the Old World, pp. 144–50.

2 Lawrence E. Stager, "The Firstfruits of Civilization," in Palestine in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Papers in Honour of Olga Tufnell. Jonathan N. Tubb, ed. (London: Institute of Archaeology,
1985), p. 173; Patrick E. McGovern, "Wine's Prehistory," Archaeology 51, no. 4 (July-Aug. 1998):
32–34.

-142-

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Ancient Food Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sorori i
  • Technology and Change in History iv
  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Abbreviations xi
  • List of Figures xiii
  • List of Plates xv
  • List of Maps xvii
  • Acknowledgements xix
  • Foreword xxiii
  • Part One - Prehistory 1
  • Chapter One - The Lower and Middle Paleolithic Periods 3
  • Chapter Two - Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods 35
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part One 81
  • Part Two - Egypt and the Near East 91
  • Chapter Three - Egypt I 93
  • Chapter Four - Egypt II 142
  • Chapter Five - The Ancient Near East 178
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Two 243
  • Part Three - Mediterranean Civilizations 257
  • Chapter Six - The Greek World: Bronze Age Through the Hellenistic Period 259
  • Chapter Seven - Roman World I 323
  • Chapter Eight - Attack on the United States 395
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Three 420
  • Select Bibliography 435
  • I. Geographical Index 467
  • Ii. General Index 471
  • Plates 479
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