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The team conducting the research consists of scientists from the U.
Benjamin Fuller, an assistant project scientist in UC Irvine’s Earth system science department, has a stash of rare wines that many connoisseurs would envy, such as the ,300 1961 Chateau Latour that Wine Advocate describes as “liquid perfection.” Alas, the fine vintage is not for tasting but for testing.
“This is one of the coolest labs anywhere.” He and Earth system science researcher Simon Fahrni (now at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) developed a method for extracting gas from wine bottles without uncorking them, making radiocarbon testing palatable to private collectors and others hoping to prove the pedigree of an expensive wine.
So far, they’ve examined 35 bottles – without sacrificing a drop.
Previous research based on discovery of ancient grape seeds suggests that wine making in Italy didn’t start until about 1200 BC in the late Bronze Age.
But if the preliminary results of the Sicily discovery hold up to further analysis it will push back the date the practice of winemaking took hold in Italy almost three thousand years to approximately 4000 BC which significantly predates the arrival of the ancient Greeks with their grape varieties and viticultural practices.
The research team has indicated that they plan to conduct additional research on the wine residue to assess whether the fermented wine was red or white.
While they’ve tested wine on occasion, they’re more likely to study soil, lake and ocean sediment, stalagmites (rock formations in caves) and coral reefs.
“High-precision carbon-14 measurements are made for scientists working in every carbon pool on Earth,” Druffel says, “from atmospheric CO at Barrow, Alaska, to foram shells from Antarctic Ocean sediment, to earthquake-disturbed soil on the San Andreas fault, to black carbon in the deep Pacific.” Circle of life Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope formed in the atmosphere by cosmic rays and absorbed by plants, animals and all other living things.
The wine-residue-bearing amphorae, which amazingly were found intact, are reliably dated as being from the fourth millennium BC.
This is a period known as the Copper Age when early Europeans began using metal tools and more complex social structures and trading networks began to evolve.
Archaeologists uncovered fermentation and storage containers as well as remnants of grape skins and seeds.