The wine consumed by the elite of the Kingdom of Judah enriched with vanilla, according to archaeologists
Archaeologists from Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Israel Antiquities Authority have analyzed the remains of ceramic storage jars discovered in the destruction layer Babylonian (586 BCE) in Jerusalem, Israel. Five of the jars had rosette stamp imprints on their handles, indicating that their contents were related to the royal economy of the Kingdom of Judah. The teams resultspublished in the journal PLOS ONEshow that the jars were used to store olive oil and vanilla flavored wine.
“In the 7th century BCE, Jerusalem experienced unprecedented prosperity as it grew in size, population and wealth,” said lead author Ayala Amir, a doctoral student at the Sonia and Marco Institute of Archeology. Nadler from Tel Aviv University and the Department of Organic Agriculture. Chemistry at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and colleagues.
“The integration of Judah into the sphere of the Assyrian and later Egyptian empires, enabled the vassal kingdom to play an important role in the lucrative and long-distance trade of southern Arabia, due to the fact that the main road of this network passed through the Negev – the arid zone in its southern sector.
“Several contemporary biblical texts refer to Arab trade, but archeology has yet to shed light on the goods transported in this trading system.”
“The excavation of ceramic storage jars from the debris of the Babylonian (Nebuchadnezzar) destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE has given us the opportunity to examine the contents of the vessels using residue analysis .”
In the study, researchers examined two assemblages of jars found in warehouses at two different locations in Jerusalem.
The first assemblage came from excavations at the Giv’ati parking lot on the southwestern slope of the Temple Mount.
Storage vessels recovered from a room belonging to a large public building that was destroyed during the Babylonian devastation of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
The second assemblage was from a public structure located on the eastern slope of the City of David ridge, south of the Temple Mount and above the Gihon spring.
The jars were found in the middle hall of the public structure, which was probably built in the 7th century BCE. The room was filled with thick debris of destruction which included tumbled stones and a large amount of burnt pieces of wood – apparently belonging to the room’s ceiling beams.
Four of the restored storage jars from the second site and one from the first have bore handles with rosette stamp impressions, dated to the late 7th to early 6th century BCE.
“The rosette-printed storage jars represent the royal dispensing system of the Kingdom of Judah on the eve of the Babylonian assault in 586 BCE,” the scientists noted.
According to the team, all six jars examined from the first site and at least two jars from the second contained wine. In addition to wine markers, one of the containers contained olive oil biomarkers.
The most surprising results are the profiles obtained from the two jars of the second site and the three jars of the first, indicating the presence of vanillin.
“Apparently the jars were used for the storage of olive oil and wine – the two typical products of the kingdom under Assyrian rule, and were sealed to prevent oxidation of their contents,” the authors said.
“Vanilla residue testifies to the high prestige of the wine and the drinking habits of Jerusalem’s elite residents.”
“The vanilla had to be imported from the tropical environments of India or East Africa,” they said.
“Control of the spice trade routes linking east and west has often been seen as a primary motivation for Assyrian southwestern expansion.”
“The identification of vanilla as one of those exotic and prestigious products brought by desert caravans highlights the economic value of this trade.”
“We demonstrate that vanilla was used as an additive to wine by the kings of Judah and their entourage.”
“The royal elite of the kingdom, the residents of Jerusalem, entrenched themselves in this trading network, serving as customers of the Assyrian and later Egyptian empires.”
A.Amir et al. 2022. Residue analysis evidence of vanilla-enriched wine consumed in Jerusalem on the eve of the Babylonian destruction in 586 BCE. PLOS ONE 17 (3): e0266085; doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0266085