Wine Grapes First Farmed by Stone Age People 11,000 Years Ago, New Study Claims
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Wine Grapes First Farmed by Stone Age People 11,000 Years Ago, New Study Claims

Wine Grapes First Farmed by Stone Age People 11,000 Years Ago, New Study Claims

(Photo: Pixabay/Pexels)

The results of a new study published March 2, suggested grapes for wine and/or eating were first farmed about 11,000 years ago, or 9,000 BC. This time period is often referred to as the Mesolithic or middle stone age, which goes from 10,000 to 8,000 BC. It is around this 10,000 BC mark that it is generally thought that people started farming but as with all things in archaeology, research is still ongoing and debatable.

Researchers analyzed the genetic data from about 3,500 grape varieties worldwide. The DNA analysis allowed the team to trace the evolution and domestication histories of these grape varietals. The results suggested that table grapes (better for eating) and wine grapevines were domesticated at the same time in Western Asia and the Caucasus region. 

“These domestication events took place 11,000 years ago, in line with the advent of farming,” said study co-author Dr. Wei Chen of Yunnan Agricultural University in China, according to The Sun. “We know that the grapes in this region are genetically suitable for making great wine.

“Whether ancient humans had the know-how to make wine right at the beginning is still debatable.”

Currently, the oldest evidence for winemaking dates to about 8,000 years ago (about 6,000 BC). Archaeologists uncovered signs of large-scale wine production in the country of Georgia which is also a part of the Caucasus region. However, humans likely had the tools and knowledge to make alcohol long before this. Although, archaeological evidence gets harder to identify the further back in time researchers look.

Researchers found that the grapes being farmed appeared to be selected based on taste, muscat flair, skin color and hermaphroditism.

The team hopes to continue to expand their research into other regions and grow their dataset. They especially are interested in different areas in Central Asia. 

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Jessica Gleman is the managing editor of Rum Raiders. She received her Ph.D. at the University College of Dublin in Ireland, where she studied the archaeology of ancient alcohol. Jessica has a passion for the alcohol industry, including agriculture, distillation and mixology. When Jessica is not writing about rum, she is also a travel and food enthusiast who loves going around the world and experiencing various cuisines and cultures. She is enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge and expertise and learning even more about this amazing spirit.