5,000-year-old jars of wine uncovered in Egyptian Queen Meret-Neith's tomb in Abydos
These 5,000-year-old jars of wine found in the tomb of Queen Meret-Neith in Egypt have certainly had time to age
One of the oldest finds of wine ever has been discovered during the uncovering of a queen's tomb that dates back 5,000 years. The jars of wine - many of which remained sealed - were found during the excavation of an Egyptian Queen's tomb
The items were found among grave goods for Queen Meret-Neith in Abydos, from 3,000 BC. Researchers from the University of Vienna say she was the most powerful woman of the period and possibly the first female pharaoh of ancient Egypt.
Queen Meret-Neith was the only woman to have her own monumental tomb in Egypt's first royal cemetery at Abydos. Although her true identity remains a mystery the excavation revealed hundreds of jars of wine, some still sealed, buried with her.
Meret-Neith's monumental tomb complex in the Abydos desert, which includes the tombs of 41 courtiers and servants in addition to her own burial chamber, was built of unbaked mud bricks, clay and wood.
In addition, inscriptions testify that Queen Meret-Neith was responsible for central government offices such as the treasury, which supports the idea of her special historical significance.
Archaeologist Professor Christiana Köhler from the University of Vienna said that a lot of the finds are undergoing analysis to reveal their secrets.
She said: "The wine was no longer liquid and we can’t tell if it was red or white. We found a lot of organic residue, grape seeds and crystals, possibly tartar and all of this is currently being scientifically analysed.
"It is probably the second oldest direct evidence for wine, the oldest also comes from Abydos. The new excavations bring to light exciting new information about this unique woman and her time."
The archaeological team found evidence of a huge amount of grave goods, including hundreds of large wine jars.
Some of them were very well preserved and even still sealed in their original state, containing the remains of 5,000-year-old wine.
Thanks to careful excavation methods and various new archaeological technologies, the team was able to show that the tombs were built in several construction phases and over a relatively long period of time.
This observation, together with other evidence, radically challenges the idea of a ritual human sacrifice as part of the royal burial in the 1st Dynasty, which was often assumed in early research but never really proven.
The team is working in collaboration with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo, the University of Vienna and the Vienna University of Technology in Austria and Lund University in Sweden.