Jars Retrieved From The Ocean Reveal The Secrets and techniques of Historical Roman Wine

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Regionally sourced grapes and imported tar pitches might have been the norms for winemakers alongside the coast of Italy through the Roman interval, in accordance with jars recovered from the ocean close to the harbor of San Felice Circeo.


Three completely different wine jars, or amphorae, have been recovered and analyzed, giving researchers a helpful perception into the practices for producing wine on this explicit area in 1–2 century BCE, a part of the late Greco-Italic interval.

What makes the analysis significantly notable is that it combines a number of the newest chemical evaluation methods with different approaches utilized in archaeobotany to find extra about these jars than would in any other case be doable.

“[T]hree marine amphorae, retrieved in 2018 from the traditional anchorage of San Felice Circeo (Italy), provided a uncommon alternative to develop interdisciplinary analysis by means of archaeobotanical and chemical analyses,” write the researchers of their published paper.

One of many lab methods used right here was a mix of gasoline chromatography and mass spectrometry, other ways of separating and figuring out chemical markers in a fabric – on this case, educated on the natural residue left within the jars.

The researchers additionally seemed for pollen trapped in that residue. This sort of evaluation has been done before, however not typically on wine jars like these, and barely with the aim of making an attempt to know the broader historic context for an artifact.


A cautious research of the grapevine pollen revealed that the jars have been used to make each crimson and white wine, and that native vegetation have been used – although it is not clear whether or not or not these vegetation have been domesticated on the time.

In the meantime, traces of pine recommend it was used to waterproof the jars and maybe additionally to taste the wine. The tar pitch that included the pine would have been sourced from outdoors the area, the researchers say, maybe from Calabria or Sicily.

Among the pollen grains used within the research. (Chassouant et al., PLOS One, 2022)

“The presence of each pollen and charcoal allowed a greater understanding relating to the pitch origin, which is unimaginable to succeed in by means of natural residue analyses alone,” write the researchers.

The findings across the San Felice Circeo harbor, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) southeast of Rome, embody quite a lot of different ceramics and artifacts. Archaeologists suppose that the realm might have been near a Roman canal.

Whereas the researchers cannot make certain about all the conclusions that they’ve reached of their research, they’ve been in a position to go additional due to the vary of interdisciplinary strategies utilized in teasing out the chemical make-up of what is left in these jars.

Which means combining chemical and botanical experience with different historic and archaeological information, and former research into wine jars corresponding to these – going past chemical evaluation to dig into the encircling historical past of the artifacts. 

“Through the use of completely different approaches to unravel the content material and nature of the coating layer of Roman amphorae, now we have pushed the conclusion additional within the understanding of historic practices than it could have been with a single method,” say the researchers.

The analysis has been printed in PLOS One.


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