Lifestyle & Belief

Ancient wine unearthed in Chinese tomb, archaeologists say


China's fondness for wine isn't new: workers clean the road at the Beijing Laffitte Chateau hotel on June 12, 2011 in Beijing, China. A multi-million dollar replica of France's historic Chateau Maison-Laffitte, the Beijing Laffitte Chateau located at the outskirt of Beijing, is a luxury hotel, spa and wine museum in one.


Lintao Zhang

Ancient wine has been found in China, archaeologists quoted in a Xinhua report say. The still-liquid tipple was found in an ancient bronze wine vessel, located in the tomb of a nobleman. The find was made at Shigusan Mountain, near the north-central Chinese city of Baoji.

The ancient booze, according to Liu Jun, director of the Baoji Archaeology Institute, is the oldest to have been found in China yet. It's believed to hail from the Western Zhou dynasty, which saw a hey-day of 1046 to 771 B.C, according to the report. 

The wine hasn't been opened yet from its bronze container, according to scientists, though it sounded as if a liquid was inside. 

Read More: Zhou dynasty bronzes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

A "prohobition device" made of bronze, used to remind Zhou officials that drinking to excess was unseemly, was also found at the site, according to Liu.

The previous Shang dynasty's decline is sometimes attributed to its rulers heavy drinking habits, as evidenced by this interesting report on ancient Chinese drinking habits out of Jiangnang University. 

Wine of such great antiquity isn't unknown in China, which may have one of the oldest wine-drinking traditions in the world. Residue of wine over 9000 years old has been found in ancient Chinese vessels, according to this 2004 BBC report.

Grapes may not have had much to do with it, however. In the BBC report, archaeo-chemist Patrick McGovern reported the ancient beverage was composed of "rice, honey, and fruit." 

The second oldest evidence of wine, at 7,000 years, hails from Iran according to Archaeology Magazine.