How did Egyptian techniques of wine production change during the course of the pharaonic period? - Holger Skorupa - E-Book

How did Egyptian techniques of wine production change during the course of the pharaonic period? E-Book

Holger Skorupa

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Essay from the year 2008 in the subject History - World History - Early and Ancient History, grade: 70 Punkte = 2,0, The University of Liverpool (School of Archaeology, Classics and Egyptology), course: Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technologies, language: English, abstract: How did Egyptian techniques of wine production (harvesting, treading, pressing, fermentation and storage) change during the course of the pharaonic period? “Il est vrai néanmoins, que ce vin [the Egyptian wine] n‟est pas beaucoup estimé des Francs, à cause qu‟il reste toujours un tiers de lie, qui le rend trouble aussitôt qu‟on en veut verser. Mais si on avoit trouvé l‟invention de la bien faire purifier, ce suroit assurément un vien très délicieux (…).” Although wine could not be indicated to be a typical element of the fauna of Egypt, skilled wine-makers of the Seventeenth Century proofed to produce a well-tasting juice, according to French traveller Vansleb. As archaeologists and historians - representing modern scholarship – have pointed out, that the wine-making process and its techniques have not been changed dramatically regarding the wine production utilized in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, it is widely interesting to get to know more about Egyptian wine-manufacturing. Which tools were used to fulfil the difficult wine-making? How did a typical vineyard look like? Were there various types of wine and was it possible to get its taste throughout the whole society of ancient Egypt? Which role was played either by the reigning king or rather the gods – especially the goddess of harvest Renenutet? By investigating and trying to answer these questions, it is certainly necessary to indicate possible sources stressing illustrations as well as textual evidence and archaeological basis. Obviously a huge amount of sources are available regarding the Middle and the New Kingdom, while, concerning the Early Dynasty and the Old Kingdom, useful information are rare. However several scenes taken from tombs dated from both periods give little evidence of techniques being utilized to success the wine-manufacturing. These artistic, textual, and archaeological evidence are highly important to observe, if ancient Egyptian wine could actually be described as “(...) excellent, white, pleasant, fragrant, easily assimilated, thin, not likely to go to the head (...)”, as it was signified by Greek Stoic and Philosopher Athenaeus in the Second Century A.D. [...]

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How did Egyptian techniques of wine production (harvesting, treading, pressing, fermentation and storage) change during the course of the pharaonic period?

Although wine could not be indicated to be a typical element of the fauna of Egypt2, skilled wine-makers of the Seventeenth Century proofed to produce a well-tasting juice, according to French traveller Vansleb. As archaeologists3and historians4- representing modern scholarship±have pointed out, that the wine-making process and its techniques have not been changed dramatically regarding the wine production utilized in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, it is widely interesting to get to know more about Egyptian winemanufacturing. Which tools were used to fulfil the difficult wine-making? How did a typical vineyard look like? Were there various types of wine and was it possible to get its taste throughout the whole society of ancient Egypt? Which role was played either by the reigning king or rather the gods±especially the goddess of harvest Renenutet? By investigating and trying to answer these questions, it is certainly necessary to indicate possible sources stressing illustrations as well as textual evidence and archaeological basis. Obviously a huge amount of sources are available regarding the Middle and the New

1Vansleb, P.:E}µÀooZoš]}vv&}Œu:}µŒvo[µvÀ}ÇP(]švPljšvíòóî-1673.Paris, pp. 255-256.

2Meeks, D.: La production de l´huile et du vin dans l´Égypte Pharaonique. In: Amouretti, M. C.; Brun, J.P. (eds.):La production du vin et de l´huile en Méditerranée. Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique.Supplément XXVI. Athens 1993, pp. 3-38.

3See Bietak, M.: Ein altägyptischer Weingarten in einem Tempelbezirk. Tell el-[t 1. Märzt10. Juni 1985. In:Anzeiger der Phil.-Hist. Klasse der Österreichischen Akademie der WissenschaftenJg. 122, Sonderabdruck 12 (1986), pp. 268-278. In the following cit. as Bietak 1986. See Carter, H.:dµšvlZuv[dŒµŒ.London 1972~Œ]P]š]}v}(ZdZd}u}(dµš-Ankh-Amen;Originally Published in 3 Volumes; London 1923-1933). See Montet, P. :>voÀ]‰Œ]Àvoš}uµÆ Pljš]vo[vienEmpire.Strasbourg 1925.

4See Lerstrup, A.: The making of wine in Egypt.Göttinger Miszellen129 (1992), pp. 61-82. See Lesko, L. H.:King Tut´s Wine Cellar.Berkeley 1977. In the following cit. as Lesko 1977. See Murray, M. A.; Boulton, N.: Viticulture and wine production. In: Nicholson, P. T.; Shaw, I. (eds.):Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology.Cambridge 2000, pp. 577-608. See Tallet, P.: Le shedeh. Étude d´un procédé de vinification en Égypte ancienne.Bulletin de l´institut Français d´ Archéologie Orientale95 (1995), pp. 459-492. See McGovern,

2P. E.:Ancient Wine. The Search for the Origins of Viniculture.Oxford/Princeton 2007 . In the following cit. as McGovern 2007.

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Kingdom5, while, concerning the Early Dynasty and the Old Kingdom, useful information are rare.6However several scenes taken from tombs dated from both periods give little evidence of techniques being utilized to success the wine-manufacturing.7These artistic, textual, and archaeological evidence are highly important to observe, if ancient Egyptian wine could actually be describedDV³H[FHOOHQWZKLWHSOHDVDQWIUDJUDQWHDVLO\DVVLPLODWHGWKLQQRW OLNHO\WRJRWRWKHKHDG´DVLWZDVVLJQLILHGE\*UHHN6WRLFDQGPhilosopherAthenaeus in the Second Century A.D.8

Early Dynasty

There are incontrovertible evidence of the manufacturing of wine available since the beginning of the Early Dynasty c. 3000 B.C., although most of the found information depend on later images or the production process in general.9Wine jars being found at Abydos and Saqqara seem to be the most useful items as they are dated from specific reigning periods. However vessels of later periods show much more data including the vintage/date, the name of the wine-PDNHUWR LQGLFDWH WKH ZLQH¶V GLVWLQFWLRQ WR WKH 5R\DO SDODFH DQG WKHUHIRUH LWVquality, and its geographical origin. The wine jars are built out of reddish-brown coloured mud signified as typical sun-dried Nile mud.10There is no evidence obtainable, whether the vessels are coated with any kind of liquid substances to increase their surfaces resistant.11Therefore, ancient Egyptian wine does not seem to have a long-lasting durability. Thus the jars are mostly shown being shaped in a conical form.12By inserting a hollow reed in a small vent, which might be left open, the carbon dioxide of the fermentation could escape. But only few jars actually elucidate such holes, as Lerstrup stresses.13+HQFH -DPHV¶ REVHUYDWLRQthat ePSKDVL]HV&DUWHU¶V HDUOLHU K\SRWKHVLV14, may not be the full reason of the existing holes. As a result stressing less data being available, the intention of the gap has to be maintained as uncertain.

5See esp. Table 1:^TheProcess of Wine-Making concerning Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom and Late Period_. Lesko, L. H.: Egyptian Wine Production During the New Kingdom. In: McGovern, P.; Fleming, S.; Katz, S. (eds.):The Origins and Ancient History of Wine.Luxembourg 2004, pp. 215-230, pp. 215 and 220-221. In the following cit. as Lesko 2004. Lerstrup, p. 61.

6See James, T. G.H.: The earliest history of wine and its importance in ancient Egypt. In: McGovern, P.; Fleming, S.; Katz, S. (eds.):The Origins and Ancient History of Wine.Luxembourg 2004, pp. 197-213, pp. 198 and 203. Meeks, pp. 3 and 24.

7See esp. Table 2:^Tombsbeing regarded to give evidence concerning the wine-making process during the course of the pharaonic period_.

8Athenaeus:The Deipnosophistae7, I.33e-I.34a.

9Murray; Boulton, p. 577.

10James, p. 198.

11Lesko 1977, p. 11.

12See esp. Figure 6:^Hieroglyphsfrom the Early Dynasty showing various types of vine-ul]vPŒoš]šu_X Here Hieroglyph B.

13Lerstrup, p. 73.

14Carter, p. 148.