Archeologists discover oldest and largest wine cellar in Near East

(JNS.org) A team of archeologists unearthed what it describes as the “oldest and largest palatial wine cellar” ever discovered in the Near East. 

Ancient wine jugs discovered at Tel Kabri in Israel. Credit: Brandeis University.

Ancient wine jugs discovered at Tel Kabri in Israel. Credit: Brandeis University.

The cellar was found in a ruined palace near the sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel called Tel Kabri. The site itself dates back to around 1,700 BCE and is located near Israel’s modern-day winemaking region in the Galilee and Golan Heights. 

“We found at least 40 large one-meter tall jugs that all hold at least 50 liters of wine, totaling 2,000 liters,” Dr. Andrew Koh of Brandeis University, one of the leading archeologists on the discovery, told JNS.org.

The team found that the jugs contained traces of tartaric acid and syringic acid, both common in wine. But they included several other ingredients. 

“Not only did they have wine, they also had a craftsmanship to them. This is not just your normal wine; there is some degree of uniqueness to them,” Koh said. 

Part of this uniqueness included wine fortified with honey, mint, cinnamon bar juniper berries, and even special cedar tree resins—possibly giving the wine some psychotropic properties. This is similar to medicinal wine found in ancient Egypt.

Posted on November 24, 2013 .