Front Page Detectives

World's Oldest Wine Discovered in Spain Contains This Shocking Ingredient

Researchers Find 2,000-Year-Old Wine in Roman Burial Site in Spain
Source: Journal of Archaeological Science

The wine was found in a glass funeral urn.

Jun. 27 2024, Published 9:01 a.m. ET

Link to FacebookShare to XShare to FlipboardShare to Email

The oldest wine ever discovered, found at a Roman tomb in Spain, contained the cremated skeletal remains of one of the men laid to rest at the burial site more than 2,000 years ago.

Researchers at the University of Córdoba say the Roman mausoleum, discovered in 2019 in Carmona, in the Andalusia region, likely belonged to a wealthy family, and contained eight burial niches, six of which contained urns. Two of those were inscribed with the names "Hispanae” and “Senicio," while the other four belonged to two unknown men and two unknown women.

Article continues below advertisement

A glass funerary urn was found to contain a liquid, and immersed in the liquid were a man's skeletal remains along with a gold ring. The liquid, which has sat preserved since the first century, acquired a "reddish hue" over all that time, but began as a white wine, according to chemical analysis by researchers at the Department of Organic Chemistry at the University of Córdoba, led by Professor José Rafael Ruiz Arrebola, in collaboration with the City of Carmona.

"At first we were very surprised that liquid was preserved in one of the funerary urns," the City of Carmona's municipal archaeologist, Juan Manuel Román, said in a statement. The tomb's conditions were "fully intact and well-sealed ever since," he said, allowing the wine to "maintain its natural state, ruling out other causes such as floods, leaks inside the chamber, or condensation processes."

According to their study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, researchers confirmed the liquid was indeed wine by looking for polyphenols, which are present in all wines.

The ancient liquid contained seven specific polyphenols also present in wines from Montilla-Moriles, Jerez and Sanlúcar. Despite its color, the absence of the polyphenol syringic acid confirmed the wine was white. Mineral salts in the liquid were consistent with white wines produced in the region to this day.

Breaking News
Article continues below advertisement

Before the discovery in Spain, the previous oldest wine in the world, preserved in its liquid form, was in a bottle unearthed from a Roman tomb near the German town of Speyer. That bottle was discovered in 1867 and dated back to the fourth century. It is now preserved at the Historical Museum of Pfalz.

According to researchers, it's "no coincidence" a man's remains were found in the urn containing wine, as women were long prohibited from drinking wine in ancient Rome. The man's urn contained wine, a gold ring, his skeletal remains, and other bone remains from the funeral bed on which he was cremated.

Never miss a story — sign up for the Front Page Detectives newsletter. Be on the scene the moment news breaks.

An urn containing the remains of a woman, which made headlines last year, instead contained three amber jewels, a bottle of patchouli perfume, and the remains of fabrics that preliminary analysis indicates were silk.

The sunken burial chamber was discovered after a family began having work done on their home. At the time that it was created, the tomb would have been located next to an important road that connected Carmo with Hispalis (Seville). It was once marked with a tower, which has since disappeared.

TMX contributed to this report.


Become a Front Page Detective

Sign up to receive breaking
Front Page Detectives
news and exclusive investigations.

More Stories

Opt-out of personalized ads

© Copyright 2024 FRONT PAGE DETECTIVES™️. A DIVISION OF MYSTIFY ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK INC. FRONT PAGE DETECTIVES is a registered trademark. All rights reserved. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services. Offers may be subject to change without notice.