Architecture of Wine Making and its Equipment

Archaeological investigations have shown that in fact it was in Iran that the earliest wine was made in world history [14]. The earliest evident of wine is from a shard (ca. 7,000 years old) found in Hajji Firuz Tepe, a Neolithic village in Iran’s northern Zagros Mountain; for winemaking, Godin Tepe of the fourth millennium BCE. The partly excavated Room 2 of the Godin Tepe contained several artefacts which are considered to have been likely implements for the making of wine. These include whole or nearly complete vessels on a poorly preserved floor which indicates in situ deposit. Other finds included a funnel (which could have been used with the aid of a textile filter to press the juice from grapes), several jars with or without wine residues, [15] a large heavy lid and part of a built bin (which might have functioned for the crushing of the grapes or a settling basin), all of which may have been used in winemaking. [16] The collection of finds and its architectural location with direct access to the entrance of the building ensemble (which separated the messy and malodorous process of winemaking from the rest of the buildings) supports this room’s use as a winemaking installation.

Grape presses dating to the late third millennium BCE have been found at Titris᷂ HӧyÜk in south-eastern Anatolia. [17] Very ancient winemaking involved the pressing of the wine in a small basin or funnel by an object such as an earthen lid. The need for greater quantities gave rise to large basins and the traditional system of treading, a process which lasted several millennia. A further development was the crushing of the grapes by a windlass, In Roman times, the precssing of the grape took place, according to Cato, in a special room which included an elevated concrete platform that contained a shallow basin with raised curbs. It was shaped with a gentle slope at the bottom which led to a run off point. Long wooden beams attached to a windlass helped press the crushed grapes. [18] This relatively expensive type of wine making was limited to the larger estates.
Tavernier gives a good description of wine and wine-making in Shiraz. He says that the Iranians have a great deal of expertise in the preservation of freshly picked grapes. He claims that they preserve the grapes so well that grapes picked eight months before appear to have been picked eight days previously. He reports of a vintage year in 1666 CE. when a goodly amount of wine was produced and exported.

< Introduction | Architecture of Wine Storage >


[14] Patrick E. McGovern and Rudolph H. Michel, “The Aalytical and Archaeological Challenge of Detecting Ancient Wine: Two case Studies from the Ancient Near East””, in The Origins and Ancient History of Wine, eds. Patrick E. McGovern, et al., London-New York, 2003/[1996], pp. 64-65.

[15] he basis for identifying the grape residues as wine was driven from the specific features of the jars and their archaeological contexts.

[16] Virginia R Badler, “The archaeological Evidence for Winemaking, Distribution and Consumption at Proto-Historic Godin Tepe, Iran”, in The Origins and Ancient History of Wine, op.cit., pp, 51-52.

[17] Mark Berkowitz, “World’s Earliest Wine”, in Archaeology, vol. 49.5 (September/October, 1996).

[18] J. Robinson, ed., The Oxford Comapnion to Wine, 3rd Ed., Oxford, 2006, p.545.