5,000-year-old wine jars discovered in Egyptian queen's tomb

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Archeologists affiliated with the University of Vienna have made a number of discoveries in the grave belonging to one of the most powerful woman in the world in the period around 3,000 BC.

The team recently began archeological excavations in the tomb of Queen Meret-Neith of the 1st Dynasty in Abydos. She was the only woman to have her own monumental tomb in Egypt’s first royal cemetery, according to a news release from the University of Vienna.

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Inside the tomb, the team has recovered hundreds of 5,000-year-old wine jars, many of which were sealed with their stoppers still intact. Some of the jars still housed well-preserved grape seeds.

“Considering that these are the remains of people’s lives and actions from 5,000 years ago, we are stunned every day at the amazing detail we encounter during our investigations, including the perfectly preserved grape seeds, craftwork and even footprints in the mud,” lead archeologist Christiana Köhler told Artnet.

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While her true identity remains a mystery, researchers speculate that Meret-Neith may have been the first female pharaoh in ancient Egypt and predecessor of the later Queen Hatshepsut, one of the most famous pharaohs.

Meret-Neith’s grave site also includes the tombs of 41 courtiers and servants in addition to her own burial chamber.

Archeologists have found that the tombs were built over a relatively long period of time and in several construction phases, challenging the idea of a ritual human sacrifice as part of the royal burial in the 1st Dynasty, a belief that “was often assumed in early research but never really proven,” according to the researchers.

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Excavations at the tomb are still ongoing with an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers working at the site to piece together more details of the Egyptian queen’s life.

Researchers believe she may have been in charge of a number of governmental offices, including the royal treasury.

The discovery of the wine jars could also offer a glimpse into the practice of ancient winemaking.

“The discovery of sealed, intact wine jars at Abydos, along with well-preserved grape pips, has the potential to significantly build our understanding of some of the earliest wine production, use and trade in the ancient Mediterranean and North Africa,” Emlyn Dodd, an archeologist at England’s Institute of Classical Studies, told Newsweek.

“Analysis of the residues left inside the jars, for example, could illuminate the chemical composition of the wine that was once inside, revealing its flavour profile and any additive ingredients that were used.”

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Originally posted 2023-10-21 11:00:29.