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History,Wine,Wine Manners

Was the first economic enterprise winemaking rather than prostitution?

Here’s what I’m thinking… if the oldest profession was supposedly prostitution, what was it that the cave man gave his female companion? He didn’t have money. He may have had a piece of meat, but heck… anyone in those days could ring the neck of a chicken, if need be. (Sorry, chickens of the world.)

What did he use for barter?

And someone had to ask the first question of, “Do you want to trade this for that?”

I think the first profession was winemaking, not prostitution.

I’ve long held the opinion that cave men and women knew about wine. I can image them coming across a vine. They picked the grapes, may not have eaten them all immediately… there are a lot of grapes during harvest… and some of them fermented. From that point forward it was, “I’ll trade you this for that.” The keepers of the vines had something that those who didn’t have vines couldn’t have without a trade of goods for services.

As it now turns out, scientists have unearthed what they believe to be the world’s oldest winery. Yeah… These winemaking guys got good with it early on… like 6,000 years ago.

They’re calling it Areni-1.

From ABC News:

Archaeologists say they have found the world’s oldest known winery in a cave in Armenia, indicating that humans were fermenting grapes during the Copper Age, more than 6,000 years ago.

“This is, so far, the oldest relatively complete wine production facility, with its press, fermentation vats and storage jars in situ,” said Hans Barnard, the lead author of an article about the study published on Tuesday in the peer-reviewed Journal of Archaeological Science.

Archaeologists from Armenia, Ireland, and the United States found these items inside of a cave in southern Armenia. This location is near the border of Iran; and is also close to a village, which still makes its own wine today.

I recently came across the concept of a village winemaker. His name was Leonard Vuylsteke, and is the great grandfather of Oregon wine pioneers Ron Vuylsteke of Oak Knoll Winery. Leonard was the village winemaker in Arcachon, France (Bordeaux) in the early 1900s, before he immigrated to the US.

The ABC story went on to say:

Radiocarbon analysis by researchers at University of California Irvine and Oxford University has dated the installation to between 4100 BC and 4000 BC, or the Late Chalcolithic Period, also known as the Copper Age.

Imagine finding a very simple wine press, a clay vat surrounded by grape seeds, withered grape vines, and the remains of pressed grapes, a cup and drinking bowl.

From Perhaps a Red, 4,100 B.C. written in the Wall Street Journal by Robert Lee Hotz:

On three pot shards, researchers from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at the University of California, Los Angeles, found a residue of malvidin, a pigment that gives grapes and wine a dark red hue.

The ancient seeds belonged to a domesticated grape variety, known as Vitis vinifera vinifera, that is still used to make red wine today, the team reported.

This has a 15 second lead in ad, so they’re happy to share… From the Wall Street Journal… you get to see their discoveries:

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2 Responses to “Was the first economic enterprise winemaking rather than prostitution?”

  1. Jo, interesting piece!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Thanks, Marlene… Something fun to ponder and know…

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