Ancient Jerusalem Elite Liked Their Wine With a Hint of Vanilla, Study Finds
Collection of sixth century BCE wine jars after the restoration process. (Dafna Gazit/Israel Antiquities Authority)

Ancient Jerusalem Elite Liked Their Wine With a Hint of Vanilla, Study Finds

The ancient Jerusalem elite enjoyed a luxury item that came to Israel from the area of India, vanilla spice. Researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority examined wine jars unearthed during excavations in the City of David National Park and were surprised to find remnants of the exotic spice from 2600 years ago, meaning that people enjoyed their wine with hints of vanilla. A study of the discovery was published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE on Wednesday. The wine jars, dating to the days of King Zedekiah, were discovered inside storage rooms of ancient buildings in two different archeological excavations in the City of David. The two buildings unearthed in the excavations were decimated in the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, in 586 BCE, and the jars were discovered smashed inside the rooms, under a collapsed building. The handles of some of the jars included a seal impression in the shape of a rosette, indicating that the jar and its contents were part of the royal administration of the Kingdom of Judah. The number of jars and impressions on them indicate the economic importance of wine, and the drinking culture as a tool for expressing status and power, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority. “The wine, perhaps, is not a big surprise, but the fact that it is seasoned with vanilla is amazing,” Professor Yuval Gadot of Tel Aviv University and Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Israel Antiquities Authority said in a statement.

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