Ancient Wine

Ancient Wine : The Search for the Origins of Viniculture

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The history of civilization is, in many ways, the history of wine. This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, "Ancient Wine" opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of wine and the vine by drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples. Patrick McGovern takes us on a personal odyssey back to the beginnings of this consequential beverage when early hominids probably enjoyed a wild grape wine. We follow the course of human ingenuity in domesticating the Eurasian vine and learning how to make and preserve wine some 7,000 years ago.Early winemakers must have marveled at the seemingly miraculous process of fermentation. From success to success, viniculture stretched out its tentacles and entwined itself with one culture after another (whether Egyptian, Iranian, Israelite, or Greek) and laid the foundation for civilization itself. As medicine, social lubricant, mind-altering substance, and highly valued commodity, wine became the focus of religious cults, pharmacopoeias, cuisines, economies, and society. As an evocative symbol of blood, it was used in temple ceremonies and occupies the heart of the Eucharist. Kings celebrated their victories with wine and made certain that they had plenty for the afterlife. (Among the colorful examples in the book is McGovern's famous chemical reconstruction of the funerary feast - and mixed beverage - of "King Midas"). Some peoples truly became "wine cultures."When we sip a glass of wine today, we recapitulate this dynamic history in which a single grape species was harnessed to yield an almost infinite range of tastes and bouquets. "Ancient Wine" is a book that wine lovers and archaeological sleuths alike will raise their glasses to.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 392 pages
  • 149.9 x 236.2 x 33mm | 703.08g
  • Princeton University Press
  • New Jersey, United States
  • English
  • 16 color illus. 35 halftones. 9 line illus. 7 maps.
  • 0691070806
  • 9780691070803

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A remarkable new book. -- Adam Gopnik New Yorker No one is better qualified to sift through the widely scattered clues [to the origins of winemaking] than McGovern, a skilled scientific sleuth who wields the most powerful tools of modern chemistry in his search for the roots of ancient wines. -- J. Madeleine Nash Time Magazine A rich treasury of lore on viticulture... McGovern's book will likely remain a standard in every serious wine-lover's library for a long time. To that achievement--and to glorious wine itself--let us raise our glasses high. -- Laurence A. Marschall Natural History It takes nerve to tackle a subject as wide-ranging in chronology, geography and historical variability as the study of ancient viniculture, and it takes rhetorical flourish to make such a study riveting, informative and thought-provoking. Patrick McGovern has succeeded in doing just that. His Ancient Wine is a book to be highly recommended to lay and professional audiences alike. -- James C. Wright American Scientist It's obvious that McGovern has a passion for his research, and that his deep appreciation for wine is enhanced by his understanding of wine's role in civilization. Wine lovers who also enjoy delving into wine's rich history will find much to savor in this complex but intriguing book. -- Deborah Scoblionkov Philadelphia Inquirer The most fascinating scholarly wine book this year... This is a tapestry woven from surviving cultural fragments and combines art, archeology, chemistry and gastronomy. It tracks the thread of wine through 8,000 years of human history and is not for the faint-hearted. Toronto Star This is a prodigiously learned book by a prodigiously learned man... McGovern uses wine as a vehicle for exploring the reaches of ancient history, and for presenting some of the astonishing archeological discoveries that are still being made... By the time we get to Persia, Greece and Rome it has become truly urgent, because it is now a story of civilizations and their clashes--the story in which we are still involved. -- Roger Scruton New Statesman This book is clearly written, generously illustrated, and thoroughly indexed. -- Harvey Finkel New England Wine Gazette

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About Patrick E. McGovern

Patrick E. McGovern is a Senior Research Scientist in the Museum Applied Science Center for Archaeology (MASCA)and is Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. The author or editor of eight other books on archaeology and archaeological science, over the past two decades he has pioneered the emerging field of biomolecular archaeology.

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