Ancient Clay Vessel from Georgia

Ancient Clay Vessel from Georgia

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Tsetskhadze Gocha R. Archaeological investigations in Georgia in the last ten years and some problems of the ancient history of the Eastern Black Sea region. In: Revue des Études Anciennes. Tome 96, 1994, n°3-4. pp. 385-414.




Excavation carried out during the last decade (1980-1991), which was undertaken throughout the territory of Georgia (see map), has not merely brought to light new material but has also enabled us to obtain more precise data relating to many aspects of the ancient history of this region to the east of the Black Sea. On occasions we have been obliged to modify our opinions and to take anew look at « old » problems concerning the history of Colchis (Western Georgia) and Iberia (Eastern Georgia). This article is designed to provide an overview of the findings resulting from excavation carried out by Georgian archaeologists at various sites and to call attention to the material that enables us to provide more or less satisfactory answers to the main aspects connected with the ancient history of Eastern Pontus in the period from the 7th century BC to the 7th century AD.

List of abbreviations : ABSA The Annual of the British School of Archaeology at Athens. DHA Dialogues d'Histoire Ancienne. PUZG Sites of South-western Georgia (Tbilisi, in Georgian). SA Sovetskaya Arkheologiya (Soviet Archaeology, Moscow, in Russian). VDI Vestnik Drevnei Istorii (Review of Ancient History, Moscow, in Russian).

* Department of Classics, Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 OEX, UK.

Prehistoric Pottery

Pottery was important to ancient Iowans and is an important type of artifact for the archaeologist. Ceramic pots are breakable but the small fragments, or sherds , are almost indestructible, even after hundreds of years in the ground. Pots were tools for cooking, serving, and storing food, and pottery was also an avenue of artistic expression. Prehistoric potters formed and decorated their vessels in a variety of ways. Often potters in one community or region made a few characteristic styles of pots. Because pots and styles were shared among groups, archaeologists can often relate sites in time and space because they contain the same ceramic types.

When ceramics are found at a site, they usually occur as small, broken sherds . Occasionally, all of the fragments of the vessel will have survived, and the pot can be reconstructed, just as you might work a jigsaw puzzle. When only a portion of a pot is left, archaeologists can rebuild the rest if enough remains to provide some idea of the original shape and size.

The first appearance of pottery during Woodland times approximately 2,800 years ago is significant because it indicates that people may have become more sedentary. Earlier peoples used lightweight, portable skin bags or woven containers made from inner bark of trees or reeds. Nomadic hunters and gatherers would not have wanted to carry heavy, breakable pots. When people began to settle in more permanent villages, however, they found many uses for pottery.

Pottery vessels were made from clays collected along streams or on hillsides. Sand, crushed stone, ground mussel shell, crushed fired clay, or plant fibers were added to prevent shrinkage and cracking during firing and drying.

Prehistoric pots were made by several methods: coiling, paddling, or pinching and shaping. In coiling, the potter rolls a lump of clay into a coil and gradually builds up the vessel wall by adding more coils. Each coiled layer is pinched to the one beneath and the coils are subsequently thinned by squeezing between the potter's thumbs and fingers. Coil junctures are then smoothed.

In the paddling method, a lump of clay was pounded into shape by holding the clay against a large stone and paddling it with a wooden paddle. If the paddle was covered with woven fabric or a cord, the patterned markings appeared on the clay. The lump of clay might also be pinched and shaped by hand.

After air drying for an hour or two, the pot could be further thinned and shaped by scraping with a small piece of sharpened clam shell. After this scraping, a design could be applied by using fingernails or a tool such as an awl, stick, or wooden stamp.

Pots must air-dry at least two weeks before they are ready for firing. Firing was an all-day affair. An area would be cleared and a small fire built. The pots would be placed a small distance from the fire, turned every 15_20 minutes, and gradually moved closer to the fire. After a couple of hours, the pots would be placed directly on top of the hot coals. Immediately, wood was piled on until a roaring fire had been built. The fire was then allowed to burn down naturally. The pots were covered with ashes while they were cooling slowly. Variation in coloring on the fired pots is a result of the amount of oxygen present during firing—red from an oxidized atmosphere and gray from a reduced atmosphere.

Styles and decorations changed over the 2500-year-long history of native pottery in Iowa. Over time, a greater variety of pots—bowls, jars, and water bottles—were made for different functions. Sometimes tiny toy pots were made for or by children.

Much Woodland pottery is quite thick in comparison with pottery made by later cultures. The rims were often decorated with the edge of a cord-wrapped paddle, producing a set of vertical or diagonal impressions. The exteriors were cord marked by slapping the moist clay with the paddle. Complex designs often were applied through combinations of stamping, punctating , and incising the surface. Some vessels were decorated with fabric or cordage by impressing a woven design or geometric patterns into the moist clay. This makes it possible to study ancient weaving techniques even though the cloth itself has not survived.

Great Oasis ceramics are grit-tempered, globular-shaped pots with rounded bases. The smoothed-over cord-marked bodies were usually undecorated, but jar rims often were decorated with incised geometric designs.

Mill Creek potters made a wide variety of vessels including bowls, flat bottom rectangular pans, seed jars, wide-necked bottles, hooded water bottles, jars, and ollas (wide-mouthed water jars).

Rim form and decoration make Glenwood ceramics distinctive. Collared vessels were manufactured by thickening the rim with the addition of an extra band of clay (collar).

Classic Oneota pots are globular shaped with strap handles but made in a variety of sizes. Oneota pottery is shell tempered rather than grit tempered and is often decorated with geometric designs.

Indians in Iowa ceased making pottery in the 1700s as European-made kettles and other containers replaced the native ceramics.

Oldest Evidence of Winemaking Discovered at 8,000-Year-Old Village

Contrary to stereotypes, Stone Age people had a taste for finer things.

On a small rise less than 20 miles south of Tbilisi, Georgia, a clutch of round, mud-brick houses rises from a green, fertile river valley. The mound is called Gadachrili Gora, and the Stone Age farmers who lived here 8,000 years ago were grape lovers: Their rough pottery is decorated with bunches of the fruit, and analysis of pollen from the site suggests the wooded hillsides nearby were once decked with grapevines.

In a paper published today in the journal PNAS, an international team of archaeologists has conclusively shown what all those grapes were for. The people living at Gadachrili Gora and a nearby village were the world’s earliest known vintners—producing wine on a large scale as early as 6,000 B.C., a time when prehistoric humans were still reliant on stone and bone tools.

Winemaking has deep roots in the nation of Georgia, where a vintner pours a traditional white wine from a cup inscribed with the names of his forebears.

Excavating the overlapping circular houses at the site, the team found broken pottery, including the rounded bases of large jars, embedded in the floors of the village houses. More samples were found at Shulaveri Gora, another Stone Age village site a mile or so from Gadachrili that was partially excavated in the 1960s. (See “Ghost of the Vine” for more about the search for the roots of winemaking.)

When the samples were analyzed by University of Pennsylvania archaeologist Patrick McGovern, he found tartaric acid, a chemical “fingerprint” that shows wine residues were present in fragments of pottery from both sites.

Combined with the grape decorations on the outside of the jars, ample grape pollen in the site’s fine soil, and radiocarbon dates from 5,800 B.C. to 6,000 B.C., the chemical analysis indicates the people at Gadachrili Gora were the world’s earliest winemakers. (Tipplers at a Chinese site called Jiahu were making fermented beverages from a mixture of grains and wild fruit a thousand years earlier.)

Because they didn’t find many grape seeds or stems preserved in the village’s soil, archaeologists think the wine was made in the nearby hills, close to where the grapes were grown.

“They were pressing it in cooler environments, fermenting it, and then pouring it into smaller jugs and transporting it to the villages when it was ready to drink,” says University of Toronto archaeologist Stephen Batiuk, who co-directed the joint expedition alongside archaeologist Mindia Jalabdze of the Georgian National Museum.

In later periods, winemakers used pine resin or herbs to prevent wine from spoiling or cover up unpleasant tastes, the same way modern wine producers use sulfites. McGovern’s chemical analysis didn’t find any such residues, suggesting that these were early winemaking experiments – and that the wine was a seasonal drink, produced and consumed before it had a chance to turn vinegary. “They don’t seem to have put tree resin with it, making it the first pure wine,” McGovern says. “Maybe they hadn’t yet discovered that tree resins were helpful.”

The evidence adds a new wrinkle to our understanding of the Neolithic, a pivotal period when humans were first learning to farm, settling down and domesticating crops and animals. The gradual process, known as the Neolithic Revolution, began around 10,000 B.C. in Anatolia, a few hundred miles west of Gadachrili.

It’s increasingly clear that it didn’t take long for people to turn their thoughts to alcohol: Just a few thousand years after the first wild grasses were domesticated, the people at Gadachrili had not only learned the art of fermentation but were apparently improving, breeding, and harvesting vitis vinifera, the European grape. “They’re working out horticultural methods, how you transplant it, how you produce it,” McGovern says. “It shows just how inventive the human species is.”

Wine From Prehistoric Georgia With an 8,000-Year-Old Vintage

Raise a glass to Georgia, which could now be the birthplace of wine.

The country, which straddles the fertile valleys of the south Caucasus Mountains between Europe and the Middle East, may have been home to the first humans to conquer the common grape, giving rise to chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and thousands of other reds and whites we enjoy today.

In a study published Monday, researchers found wine residue on pottery shards from two archaeological sites in Georgia dating back to 6,000 B.C. The findings are the earliest evidence so far of wine made from the Eurasian grape, which is used in nearly all wine produced worldwide.

“Talk about aging of wine. Here we have an 8,000-year-old vintage that we’ve identified,” said Patrick McGovern, a molecular archaeologist from the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and lead author of the study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


The findings push back the previous date for the oldest evidence of winemaking by about 600 to 1,000 years, which Dr. McGovern previously identified in Iran. But it does not dethrone China as the location of the earliest known fermented beverage, which Dr. McGovern dated to 7,000 B.C. That drink, however, was most likely a cocktail consisting of rice, honey, hawthorn fruit and wild grapes, unlike this most recent finding, which was pure grape wine.

Wine culture has long been intertwined with the history of Georgia, where elaborate toasts are an important part of traditional feasts. Archaeologists have found evidence of its consumption there during the Bronze Age, Classical Period, Greco-Roman Period and Medieval times. Georgian wine was also among the most favored in the Soviet Union.

“Georgia had always suspected it had a Neolithic wine, there were several claims,” said David Lordkipanidze, the general director of the Georgian National Museum and an author on the paper. “But now there is real evidence.”

To uncork the mystery of the oldest wine, Dr. McGovern and his team searched the remains of two villages from the Neolithic era — or the last part of the Stone Age — about 30 miles south of the capital, Tbilisi. Clay vessels found at these Neolithic sites and others in Georgia suggest the people most likely stored their wine in large, round jars as big as 300 liters, enough to hold about 400 bottles. They also probably buried them underground to ferment, which is still practiced in Georgia to this day.

The team retrieved several jar shards from the sites, which they then chemically analyzed. To their surprise, eight had telltale signs of wine residue long absorbed into the pottery, including tartaric acid, which is like a flashing neon light indicating traces of grape, as well as malic, succinic and citric acids. Dr. McGovern said that to his knowledge, the combination of these four acids is found only in grape wine.

Radiocarbon dating of the site dated jar shards to the years 6,000 to 5,800 B.C. The team also found traces of ancient grape pollen, starch from grape wine and remains from Neolithic fruit flies. They did not find any DNA or pigments on the residue, so they could not say whether it was red or white wine.

Although it is possible these prehistoric people were just making grape juice, Stephen Batiuk, an archaeologist from the University of Toronto and an author on the study, said the decorations on the jars implied they were used to store something important, like wine.

Robert Desalle, a molecular biologist at the American Museum of Natural History and co-author of the book “A Natural History of Wine,” called the study “airtight,” adding that the findings will prompt him to rewrite the chapter in his book about the oldest site for winemaking.

Andrew Waterhouse, a wine chemist at the University of California, Davis, agreed, saying that finding succinic acid indicated that fermentation had taken place.

But he suggested that humanity’s love affair with wine most likely extended deeper into the archaeological record. The animal hides probably used by even earlier prehistoric peoples who fermented grapes into wine most likely decayed over thousands of years, so pottery remains our best bet for discovering how humanity first got buzzed.

Ancient Georgian traditional Qvevri wine-making method

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Inscribed in 2013 (8.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Qvevri wine-making is practised throughout Georgia, particularly in village communities where unique varieties of grapes are grown. The Qvevri is an egg-shaped earthenware vessel used for making, ageing and storing the wine. Knowledge and experience of Qvevri manufacture and wine-making are passed down by families, neighbours, friends and relatives, all of whom join in communal harvesting and wine-making activities. Children learn how to tend the vines, press grapes, ferment wine, collect clay and make and fire Qvevris through observing their elders. The wine-making process involves pressing the grapes and then pouring the juice, grape skins, stalks and pips into the Qvevri, which is sealed and buried in the ground so that the wine can ferment for five to six months before being drunk. Most farmers and city dwellers use this method of making wine. Wine plays a vital role in everyday life and in the celebration of secular and religious events and rituals. Wine cellars are still considered the holiest place in the family home. The tradition of Qvevri wine-making defines the lifestyle of local communities and forms an inseparable part of their cultural identity and inheritance, with wine and vines frequently evoked in Georgian oral traditions and songs.

© 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument protection of Georgia © 2012 by Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia

Why should you get to know Georgian wines? Because they’re exciting.

Georgian winemaker Gogi Dakishivili, left, produces the Orgo label in partnership with his son Temur. (From Georgian House of Greater Washington )

We tend to think of the classic vinifera wine grape varieties as European, meaning French, Italian and Spanish. But vinifera’s origin lies to the east, in the Caucasus region: where Europe and Asia intersect, where ancient trade routes crisscrossed the mountains between the Black Sea and Persia, and near where the Bible says Noah planted a vineyard after the ark settled on Mount Ararat. This is where the oldest archaeological evidence of wine production, vinifera seeds in clay vessels, was found. Both Georgia and Armenia claim to be wine’s homeland, as borders have been fluid between antiquity and now. But let’s tip our hats to Georgia as the origin of wine, if only because more of its wines are available now in the United States.

And Georgia’s wines are exciting. The country offers everything a modern wine geek could ask for: native vinifera grape varieties grown almost nowhere else modern-style wines that capture those grapes’ fruity flavors and wines fermented the way Georgians have done it for centuries, offering us a taste of the past. It doesn’t hurt that the old style has become trendy. Even better: The wines are not expensive.

“Georgia is a small country with a tiny production but an image and potential that far exceed its size,” said Lisa Granik, a master of wine, during a presentation of Georgian wines at Vinexpo, an international trade fair held in Bordeaux, France, in June.

Much of Georgia’s image and popularity comes from its ancient practice of fermenting wine in qvevri, clay vessels buried underground. Most modern white wines are made by quickly separating the pressed juice from the grapes’ skins, stems and seeds. In the ancient method, the juice, skins, stems and seeds go into the qvevri to ferment together. The result can be deeply colored, oxidized and tannic, with some of the features of red wines. Winemakers often describe this method (whether using clay vessels or not) as “making white wine as if it were red.”

Skin-fermented whites are trendy today as “orange wines,” although Mamuka Tsereteli, a Georgian native who imports wines from his homeland into the Washington area, prefers to call them “amber wines.” They aren’t very citrusy, after all.

“Georgia has nearly 500 native grape varieties,” Tsereteli explained to me while we tasted some of his imports at Batch 13, a wine store on 14th Street NW owned by George Grigolia, a fellow Georgian. Tsereteli’s company, the Georgian Wine House, imports Georgian wines distributed in the District, Maryland, Virginia and five other states.

Georgia’s main wine region is Kakheti, in the eastern part of the country, where the Caucasus mountains stretch from northwest to southeast. Although wine is grown throughout most of the country, Tsereteli said, farther west toward the Black Sea the landscape is flatter and sandier, less amenable to high-quality grape growing.

The most common grapes in wines imported to the United States are rkatsiteli and mtsvane among whites, and the red saperavi. (Each letter is pronounced, more or less, so the names are not as difficult as they look.) Made in the modern style, the whites are crisp and fruity made as amber wines, they tend to be rich and full-bodied.

Reds made in qvevri in the ancient style can be sweet, because in cooler temperatures the fermentation might stop before all the grape sugar is converted to alcohol. Because sweet reds are in vogue nowadays, these wines should find a market. Saperavi can also be quite savory, with tobacco leaf and dark-fruit flavors. In texture and taste, it resembles a cabernet franc from the Loire Valley in France.

But a good saperavi, like most Georgian wines, has what wines from anywhere else don’t have: a taste that spans centuries of history, and a whiff of ancient origins.

Babies Drank from Ancient 'Sippy Cups' Thousands of Years Ago

The tiny pots were found in graves belonging to children.

Babies and young children drank from clay "sippy cups" during the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, and the practice may have existed as early as 7,000 years ago, a new study reveals.

These spouted artifacts have been found at archaeological sites across Europe, first appearing in the Neolithic period and becoming more common, according to the study. Scientists suspected that the vessels were meant for feeding babies and toddlers, but some researchers argued that the pottery may have been meant for adults who were sick, injured or elderly.

To settle that question, the study authors analyzed vessels from children's graves in what is now Germany to identify what they once held. The researchers found residue of animal milk fats, suggesting that the vessels held milk that was fed to young children to supplement breastfeeding or to help with weaning.

This is the first "direct evidence of the foods these babies were fed," said lead study author Julie Dunne, a senior research associate with the University of Bristol's School of Chemistry, in the United Kingdom.

The researchers examined three vessels from the graves of very young children the eldest was no more than 6 years old, according to the study. Two of the graves were in a cemetery dating from 800 B.C. to 450 B.C. , and one grave &mdash a cremation burial &mdash was found in a necropolis dating from 1200 B.C. to 800 B.C..

Archaeologists typically look for ancient organic residues by grinding up small pieces of broken pottery &mdash there are often thousands at any given site &mdash and then chemically analyzing the powder, Dunne told Live Science.

"Based on various molecular and isotopic information, we can tell what kind of products were in the vessel: animal products &mdash meat or milk &mdash plants or beeswax, which would denote honey," she said.

However, testing small, whole objects without damaging them is a lot trickier, Dunne added. For the study, the scientists carefully swabbed the insides of the vessels, collecting grains of loose powder. Fatty acids in the residue from the younger vessels hinted that their milk came from ruminants &mdash animals that chew their cud, such as cows, sheep or goats. The older cup held milk that came from nonruminants, perhaps human or pig milk, the study authors reported.

But could a child have comfortably used one of those cups? To find out, the researchers reconstructed one of the vessels in the study, filled it with diluted applesauce and handed it to an eager 1-year-old.

"He cupped it in his hands and started suckling from it &mdash and he loved it," Dunne told Live Science. "There's something intuitive for a baby about the shape they all have the same basic shape that you'd hold in between your hands."

If these cups from the Bronze Age and Iron Age were used to feed babies, it's likely that the same is true for similar cups found at other sites that date to the Neolithic, according to the study.

These cups offer an intriguing glimpse of an important shift in human history. As people transitioned from hunter-gatherer lifestyles to more agrarian habits, they gained reliable access to milk and cereals to feed their babies, which meant families could grow more quickly, Dunne said.

"Hunter-gatherers tend to have gaps of about five years between babies," she noted. "But once people start living an agricultural lifestyle, the inter-birth interval becomes much shorter, more like two years.

"People have more babies because it's easier to feed them," Dunne added. "Eventually, this leads to people living in larger settlements &mdash and eventually to urbanization."

The findings were published online Sept. 25 in the journal Nature.

Chemical Results

After sample extraction, ancient organic compounds were identified by a combination of chemical techniques, including Fourier-transform infrared spectrometry (FT-IR), gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS), and liquid chromatography linear ion trap/orbitrap mass spectrometry (LC-MS-MS) (SI Appendix).

Our previous FT-IR results for base sherds SG-16a and SG-782 from the excavations at Shulaveris Gora in the 1960s had been promising for the presence of tartaric acid/tartrate. In 2016, we reran the samples, together with Neolithic soil samples from the site collected during the 2016 season. As shown in SI Appendix, Fig. S2, the spectrum of SG-782 had more pronounced straight-chain carbon-hydrogen stretch bond peaks at 2,920 and 2,850 cm −1 compared with soil, an indication that the extracted ancient sample is relatively richer in hydrocarbons. The characteristic tartaric acid doublet-carbonyl stretch bond peaks at 1,716 and 1,734 cm −1 were apparent for the ancient sherd, as was the hydroxyl bend at 1,452 cm −1 . Tartrate was identified by the carbonyl stretch bond peaks at 1,636 and 1,598 cm −1 , as well as the carboxylate stretch at 1,380 cm −1 . In contrast, the soil spectrum had very ill-defined absorptions in these regions, which might be variously interpreted.

Comparable spectra were observed for the Gadachrili sherds (e.g., Fig. 2D) that were positive for tartaric acid by LC-MS-MS (Table 1).

Searches of our FT-IR databases also yielded excellent statistical “matches” of the ancient spectra from both sites to those of other ancient and modern wine samples and synthetic tartaric acid and tartrate (SI Appendix).

Our recent GC-MS analyses were uninformative about the original contents of the jars from both sites. Fatty acids predominated in all of the samples, especially palmitic and stearic acids. The chromatogram (SI Appendix, Fig. S3) of jar base GG-IV-50, which was positive for tartaric acid by LC-MS-MS, is representative. Branched and unsaturated fatty acids also might occur, together with the occasional alcohol, high-numbered hydrocarbon, hopane-related triterpenoid (generic to plant cell walls), C9 and C10 dioic acids (breakdown products of oleic acid), and nonspecific stigmasterol (a plant steroid). Contaminants, such as phthalate (a plasticizer ingredient of the bags in which the sherds were stored) and behenic acid (used in hand moisturizers), were ever-present.

A comparison of the chromatogram of the ancient sherd (SI Appendix, Fig. S4) with that of its associated soil sample (GG-IV-51) shows that the soil is richer in organics, especially high-numbered hydrocarbons (C27–C33) at retention times exceeding 20 min. The soil compounds are likely of modern origin. Fatty acids and n-alkanes occur widely in plants and animals, and are produced by microorganisms they are not definitive for a grape-derived product.

The LC-MS-MS analyses proved to be most productive. Altogether, five base sherds from Gadachrili and three from Shulaveri were shown to be positive for tartaric acid and other organic acids (malic, succinic, and citric acid) found in grape/wine.

The presence of the four acids in the ancient samples is demonstrated by the exact correspondence of retention times for their extracted ion chromatograms with those of modern standards (Fig. 3). As seen in Fig. 4 and Table 1, the tartaric acid content of the positive sherds from Gadachrili (GG-II-9, GG-IV-33, GG-IV-48, GG-IV-50, and GG-IV-56) exceeded that of their corresponding background soil samples by 3.4- to 12.4-fold. At Shulaveri (Fig. 5), the tartaric acid level of SG-16a was 44 times that of the average of three Neolithic soil samples (SG-22, SG-27, and SG-28). In contrast, the tartaric acid content of SG-IV-20 was only 1⅓ times that of its associated soil (SG-IV-21) and very low (4 ng/mg residue). Any variability in microbial soil activity (SI Appendix) might well lead to SG-IV-20 being classified as negative.

Extracted ion chromatograms (±0.005-Da window) for 5 μM standard solutions (A), using the theoretical mass of deprotonated tartaric, malic, succinic, and citric acid, compared with jar sherd sample GG-IV-50 (B). All four organic acids were positively detected and quantified in this sample. Intens, intensity.

Organic acid distribution for the LC-MS-MS–analyzed ancient jar base samples that were positive for tartaric acid/tartrate at Gadachrili Gora, compared with their associated soil samples. Concentrations are reported as nanograms of organic acid per milligram of extracted residue from sherd/soil material, and errors as the SD of two measurements. Note that the GG-II-9 samples (Table 1) are omitted from this graphical representation, because their data were reported as nanograms of organic acid per gram of extracted sherd/soil material.

Organic acid distribution for the LC-MS-MS–analyzed ancient jar base samples that were positive for tartaric acid/tartrate at Shulaveris Gora, compared with their associated soil samples. Concentrations are reported as nanograms of organic acid per milligram of extracted residue from sherd/soil material, and errors as the SD of two measurements.

Negative results (not shown here) were also obtained, including 11 Gadachrili samples (five jar bases and six body sherds) with tartaric acid concentrations below those of their associated soil samples. Two other bases from this site, GG-IV-49 and GG-IV-60, did not contain any detectable levels of tartaric or the other organic acids.

Two of the bases from Shulaveris Gora (SG-16a and SG-782) were extracted as complete sherds (in toto), as was our customary procedure in the late 1990s, and were then analyzed by high-resolution LC-Orbitrap MS-MS (Table 1). The Shulaveri soils were markedly lower in abundance of the four organic acids than the soils at Gadachrili. Rainy conditions at the time of collection appear to have contributed to this difference (SI Appendix). High levels of tartaric acid, especially for SG-16a, provide very strong evidence for the presence of ancient grape/wine in this jar and others from Gadachrili (e.g., GG-IV-33).

Porcelain and High-Fired Ceramics

The first high-fired glazed ceramics were produced in China, during the Shang (1700-1027 BC) dynasty period. At sites such as Yinxu and Erligang, high-fired ceramics appear in the 13th-17th centuries BC. These pots were made from a local clay, washed with wood ash and fired in kilns to temperatures of between 1200 and 1225 degrees Centigrade to produce a high fired lime-based glaze. Shang and Zhou dynasty potters continued to refine the technique, testing different clays and washes, eventually leading to the development of true porcelain. See Yin, Rehren and Zheng 2011.

By the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the first mass pottery manufacturing kilns were begun at the imperial Jingdezhen site, and the beginning of export trade of Chinese porcelain to the rest of the world opened up.

Boaretto E, Wu X, Yuan J, Bar-Yosef O, Chu V, Pan Y, Liu K, Cohen D, Jiao T, Li S et al. 2009. Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and bone collagen associated with early pottery at Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan Province, China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106(24):9595-9600.

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