The Oldest Wine Press Have Been Excavated in Northern Iraq
By: Ani Karapetyan/Arab America Contributing Writer
Two weeks ago a group of Italian archaeologists from the University of Udine discovered an ancient site near the province of Dohuk, in northern Iraq. After close excavations in the site, archeologists uncovered an ancient wine factory and rock-carved royal reliefs.
The Winepress dates back 2,700 years to Assyrian times. Kings praying to the gods were depicted on the rock-carved royal reliefs. It is believed that the carvings date from the reigns of Sargon II (721-705 BC) and his son Sennacherib.
This archeological discovery is fascinating for at least two reasons: it is the first industrial wine press ever discovered in Iraq, and it is the oldest wine press that has been discovered so far.
University of Udine professor of near eastern archaeology Daniele Morandi Bonacossi said: “This is a quite unique archaeological finding because it is the first time in northern Mesopotamia that archaeologists are able to identify a wine production area.” “In the late Assyrian period, between the 8th and the 7th century BC, there was a dramatic increase…in wine demand and in wine production. The imperial Assyrian court asked for more and more wine,” added Bonacossi.
They found 14 installations carved into mountain rocks. It seems that people in ancient times pressed grapes underfoot in the upper, square-shaped basins, extracting juice that poured off into the lower circular basins and was then processed into wine. The wine was saved in huge jars before being sold.
Currently, the archeological teams work on adding the ancient site to the UNESCO world heritage list.