A Middle Bronze Age Canaanite palace at the Tel Kabri excavation in Israel has revealed an ancient wine cellar.

Wine production, distribution, and consumption are thought to have played a role in the lives of those living in the Mediterranean and Near East during the Middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC), but little archaeological evidence about Bronze Age wine is available to support art and documentation about the role wine played during this period.

During a 2013 excavation, the researchers in this study found 40 large storage vessels in an enclosed room located to the west of the central courtyard. 

 What you really want to know is what was in those vessels.  


LiDAR map composed of millions of discrete points color coded to elevation. 
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106406 

An organic residue analysis using mass spectrometry revealed that all of the relatively uniform jars contained chemical compounds indicative of wine. The authors also detected subtle differences in the ingredients or additives within similarly shaped wine jars, including honey, storax resin, terebinth resin, cedar oil, cyperus, juniper, and perhaps even mint, myrtle, or cinnamon.

The researchers suggest the detection of these additives indicates that humans at the time had a sophisticated understanding of plants and skills necessary to produce a complex beverage that balanced preservation, palatability, and psychoactivity. According to the authors, these results may contribute to a greater understanding of ancient viticulture and the Canaanite palatial economy.

Lead author Andrew Koh said, "Based on the nature of the room, it was anticipated from the beginning that residue samples extracted and studied under virtually identical circumstances with minimal variability would have the potential to reveal new and significant insights from both a scientific and archaeological perspective. We believe this study will not only change our understanding of ancient viticulture and palatial social practices, but also the manner in which we approach organic residue analysis (ORA) as an integrated, qualitative, and interdisciplinary exercise that is as field dependent as it is laboratory intensive."



Citation: Koh AJ, Yasur-Landau A, Cline EH (2014) Characterizing a Middle Bronze Palatial Wine Cellar from Tel Kabri, Israel. PLoS ONE 9(8): e106406. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106406