News & Opinion | June 18, 2018 5:00 am

The Long and Winding History of Ancient Winemaking

Across the globe, local cultures took starkly different approaches to viniculture.

Israeli mother, Sarit Meiri, explains to her five-year-old son, Tal, the Persian ceramic drinking horn, dated to the 5th century BC and excavated from the central Israeli site of Tel Ya'oz, on display at the Land of Israel Museum (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Israeli mother, Sarit Meiri, explains to her five-year-old son, Tal, the Persian ceramic drinking horn, dated to the 5th century BC and excavated from the central Israeli site of Tel Ya'oz, on display at the Land of Israel Museum (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
Getty Images

The history of ancient winemaking follows a fascinating, non-linear path, according to a new article on Undark.

For example, people in the Levant—a region made up of parts of modern day Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria—were among winemaking’s pioneers, but they also resisted making any changes to their rudimentary process for a full millennium. The earliest winemaking in that area, which took place around 4,000 B.C.E., used a flat treading floor. Workers would use their feet to press the grapes, producing juices that were collected by a vat.

Meanwhile, other parts of the world outside the eastern Mediterranean discovered wine for themselves and found new ways of fermenting grapes.  As Undark notes, the history of winemaking has as much to do with regional tradition as it does with technological advancement.