Ancient Persia

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Much of this area was also known as mesopotamia in classical times. The earliest chemical evidence for grape wine comes from the Neolithic village of Hajji Firuz Tepe, about 5400–5000 bc, in the northern Zagros Mountains of north western Iran. Six jars in a kitchen of an average household would originally have held some 55 l (15 gal) of wine, based on the presence of tartaric acid which is found in large amounts only in grapes in the Middle East. The intended product was most likely wine and not vinegar or another grape product, because clay stoppers were used to stopper the narrow mouths of the jars and a tree resin, probably terebinth with antioxidant properties, was added to the wine as a preservative. Hajji Firuz was among the first year-round settlements based on newly domesticated plants and animals of the Neolithic period. The Eurasian vinifera grapevine might well have been one of those domesticates. The invention of pottery around 6000 bc, gave impetus to the process, since special vessels for preparing, storing, and serving wine could now be made. Similarly, two millennia later, pottery jars, one stored on its side, in rooms at the site of Godin Tepe, further south in the Zagros (dated to about 3500 bc) in central western Iran, were shown to contain a resinated wine.