Egyptian Archaeology Mar 20, 2008 14:15:32 GMT -5
Post by Senbecc on Mar 20, 2008 14:15:32 GMT -5
From The TimesOctober 27, 2005
Was a glass of Egyptian red King Tut's real poison?
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent
KING TUTANKHAMUN was partial to wine at the end of a hard day, it has long been assumed. Now scientists claim that he favoured drinking red over white.
A long-standing mystery of precisely what was inside the jars, or amphorae, found in the tomb of the great Egyptian king (1336-1327BC) has been solved, according to academics who presented their findings yesterday at the British Museum in London.
A team at the University of Barcelona studied residues from the scrapings of eight of the jars from Tutankhamun’s tomb, which are now divided between the British Museum and the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Tutankhamun ascended the throne at the age of about 8. Analysis of his mummy suggests that he was about 17 when he died. Ancient Egyptians believed in equipping a body for the afterlife, and Tutankhamun was buried with 26 vessels of wine for his funerary meals. Our earliest knowledge of wine cultivation comes from Ancient Egypt, where the process was represented on tomb walls dating to 2500BC.
The vessels were labelled in much the same way as those of today, with the year of harvest, ownership, origin, quality and winemaker’s name. What the ancient labels omitted to give, however, was the wine’s colour.
Rosa Maria Lamuela-Raventós, Professor of Nutrition and Food Science, and Maria Rosa Guasch-Jané, a scientist and Egyptologist, used the latest technology to identify the wine-pigment components, including malvidinglucoside, the one that gives the colour to young red wines.
However, Nigel Strudwick, of the Department of Ancient Egypt and the Sudan at the British Museum, said: “We can’t be sure that red wine was what he preferred just because it was stuck in his tomb.”
The research was funded by the Spanish Foundation for the Culture of Wine. It cannot reconstruct the wine because the grape varieties no longer exist.
Beer A particular favourite for the ordinary Egyptian. Thought to have been sweet and without bubbles, it was drunk, offered to the gods and placed in the tombs of the dead
Wine The Egyptians had several varieties, some of which were commended by authors for their excellent qualities. Vineyards were scattered throughout the country, but most were in the Nile delta. One exclusive variety, Shedeh, was thought to have been pomegranate but was, in fact, grape
Milk Drunk by ordinary people. Sometimes offered to the gods with water
Grape juice Drunk by the upper classes
King Tutankhamen drank red wine, says a researcher who analyzed very dry traces of the vintage found in his tomb.
Maria Rosa Guasch-Jane, who briefed reporters Wednesday at the British Museum, said she had invented a process which gave archaeologists a tool to discover the color of ancient wine.
Guasch-Jane also discovered that the most valued drink in ancient Egypt, shedeh, was made of red grapes.
``This is the first time someone has found an ancient red wine,'' said Guasch-Jane, who earned her Ph.D. in pharmacy from the University of Barcelona in September.