A recent study into jars recovered from a coastal community in Italy is shedding new light on the methods used by winemakers during the Roman period.
Published in the journal Plos One, researchers analyzed three marine amphorae, or containers, retrieved in 2018 from the seabed close to San Felice Circeo in central Italy, about 90 kilometres southeast of Rome.
The researchers write that the three marine amphorae “offered a rare opportunity” to take an interdisciplinary approach to the work, using both archeobotanical and chemical analyses.
Chemical analyses, for example, determined that the containers were used for both red and white wines, the researchers say.
They also identified a particular pine used to produce a wood tar in order to waterproof the jars.
“Likewise, Pinus, besides ensuring the waterproofing of the amphora, would have flavoured the beverage due to its aromatic character,” the researchers say.
The confirmation of a particular pollen also suggests the winemakers used “autochthonous,” or indigenous grapevines that could have been either wild or cultivated.
“Since false chemical positive must be tackled by external controls, we provided a straightforward methodology that brought independent evidence of grape derivatives in Roman wine amphorae … allowing to suggest a history beyond the artifacts that could not be identified by single analytical techniques,” the researchers conclude.