Herbal wine, just the thing for ailing pharaohs

Apr 13, 2009
This undated photo provided by University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology courtesy of the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo shows the inside of a wine vessel sherd that was buried with one of ancient Egypt's first rulers, Scorpion I, is shown. Herbs have been detected in wine from the tomb many centuries before the civilization's known use of herbal remedies in alcoholic beverages, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (AP Photo/Courtesy of German Archaeological Institute in Cairo)

(AP) -- When great-grandma took a nip of the elderberry wine "for medicinal purposes," she was following a tradition that goes back thousands of years.

Indeed, researchers say they have found evidence that the Egyptians spiked their wine with medicinal herbs as long as 5,000 years ago.

A chemical analysis of pottery dating to 3150 B.C. shows that herbs and resins were added to grape wine, researchers led by Patrick E. McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of and report in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Adding tree resin to wine to prevent disease was widely known in ancient times, also being reported in ancient China, and continuing into the Middle Ages, the researchers say.

And they note that Egyptian records report that a variety of herbs were mixed in wine, beer and other liquids for medical uses.

Chemicals recovered from the pottery indicate that in addition to there were savory, blue tansy and artemisia - a member of the wormwood family - present. Other chemicals indicate the possible presence of balm, senna, coriander, germander, mint, sage and thyme.

---

On the Net:

PNAS: http://www.pnas.org

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: More than two dozen articles provide insights on mummies

Related Stories

Chinese People Were Drinking Wine 9,000 Years Ago

Dec 19, 2004

Our ancestor may raise a toast with the earliest known wine while having a piece of music from the oldest known musical instruments about 9,000 years ago. Physical evidence have recently confirmed that ancient Chinese were ...

Study: King Tut liked red wine best

Oct 27, 2005

A University of Barcelona research team has discovered Egypt's King Tutankhamun was partial to wine, preferring red over white.

Italians drinking less wine

Jul 06, 2006

Researchers say the amount of wine Italians drink has fallen considerably over the past 30 years.

Electronic tongue tastes wine variety, vintage

Aug 04, 2008

You don't need a wine expert to identify a '74 Pinot Noir from Burgundy – a handheld "electronic tongue" devised by European scientists will tell you the grape variety and vintage at the press of a button.

Wine may protect against dementia

Apr 10, 2008

There may be constituents in wine that protect against dementia. This is shown in research from the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

Recommended for you

More than two dozen articles provide insights on mummies

May 22, 2015

In a special issue, The Anatomical Record ventures into the world of human mummified remains. In 26 articles, the anatomy of mummies is exquisitely detailed through cutting edge examination, while they are put in historical, archeo ...

The Bronze Age Egtved Girl was not from Denmark

May 21, 2015

The Bronze Age Egtved Girl came from far away, as revealed by strontium isotope analyses of the girl's teeth. The analyses show that she was born and raised outside Denmark's current borders, and strontium ...

Oldest-known stone tools pre-date Homo

May 20, 2015

Scientists working in the desert badlands of northwestern Kenya have found stone tools dating back 3.3 million years, long before the advent of modern humans, and by far the oldest such artifacts yet discovered. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.