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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Where Wine and History Meet

In 1867, when excavators were digging the foundation for a new house in a vineyard near the town of Speyer Germany, there were surprised to find two Roman stone sarcophaguses.

These ancient stone coffins contained a green-yellow amphora (storeage jar). The jar dates back to approximately 325 AD. The amphora has handles formed in the shape of dolphins. One of several bottles found, this is the only one with the contents still preserved.

The preserved liquid has much silty sediment. It has been estimated that 2/3 of the contents are a thicker, hazy mixture. This is probably olive oil. The ancient Romans used olive oil to float on the surface of a bottle of wine to preserve the contents from oxidation.

This amphora or storage jar, along with other wine antiquities, is on display at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz (History Museum of the Pfalz) near the town of Speyer in Germany.

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