All posts by Archaeology World Team

The oldest bottle of wine in the world remains unopened since the 4th Century

The oldest bottle of wine in the world remains unopened since the 4th Century

For a few years now, contemporary historians have been debating the future of the oldest bottle of wine in the world, known as the Speyer wine bottle, or “Römerwein.”

Historians have split opinions on whether the bottle should be opened or not. This extremely rare artifact is 1,650-years-old and it is placed in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate in Germany.

The glass amphora has handled in the shape of dolphins and is sealed with wax.

The contents of the bottle are about one-third olive oil which in the past was used as a preservative that prevented the wine from oxidizing.

The Speyer bottle was found in the grave of a Roman nobleman in 1867, in the Rhineland-Palatine region of Germany and caused a real stir among historians and archaeologists at the time.

It’s been said that the noble owner, believed to be a high ranking Legionnaire, was buried with the bottle of wine, an ancient custom which represents the Romans’ beliefs in the after-life, that is, sending valuable objects with the body of the deceased so she or he can use them in the “hereafter.”

Reportedly, the tomb near the city of Speyer also contained the sarcophagi of his two spouses.

The Speyer wine bottle. 

The antique bottle, which represents thousands of years of human history and customs, was named after the city of Speyer.

In the glory days of Ancient Rome, wine and wine cults were diligently observed.

One of the inventions of Hero of Alexandria, an engineer who was centuries ahead of his time, was a delightful party centerpiece that seemingly turned one liquid into another.

Speyer, Germany

His trick jug incorporated two separate, sealed compartments and some clever pneumatics to make it seem that water added to the vessel was dispensed as wine. This is one of several similar devices that Hero describes in his Pneumatica.

During WWI, a chemist analyzed the Speyer bottle but never opened it so the wine was given to the Historical Museum of the Palatinate collection in Speyer. Over time, numerous scientists have hoped to obtain permission to analyze the bottle’s contents thoroughly, though nobody has been granted one yet.

Some scientists and microbiologists are adamant that the bottle shouldn’t be opened, among them Ludger Tekampe, the curator of the Folklore Wine Museum collection.

“We are not sure whether or not it could stand the shock to the air. It is still liquid and there are some who believe it should be subjected to new scientific analysis but we are not sure,” said Tekampe on the matter.

The world’s oldest known bottle of wine, 325 AD, Historical Museum of the Palatinate, Speyer, Germany. 

This rare artifact of the ancient world was created during the early days of the tradition of wine production and consumption, which was begun by the ancient Greeks.

The tradition was later embraced by the ancient Romans, who also took Dionysus, the Greek god of agriculture, wine, and fertility, and renamed him, Bacchus.

Contrary to the general notion and belief that the older the wine is, the better, the Speyer wine is presumed to be undrinkable.

According to the Daily Mail, Professor Monika Christmann said that although the Speyer wine might not be microbiologically spoiled, it “would not bring joy to the palate.”

Canada Unveils ‘Dinosaur Mummy’ Found With Skin And Gut Contents Intact

Canada Unveils ‘Dinosaur Mummy’ Found With Skin And Gut Contents Intact

Scientists hail it as perhaps the best-preserved dinosaur specimen ever uncovered. You can’t even see its bones.

That’s because, 110 million years later, those bones remain covered by the creature’s intact skin and armor.

Indeed, the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology in Alberta, Canada recently unveiled a dinosaur so well-preserved that many have taken to calling it not a fossil, but an honest-to-goodness “dinosaur mummy.”

With the creature’s skin, armor, and even some of its guts intact, researchers are astounded at its nearly unprecedented level of preservation.

“We don’t just have a skeleton,” Caleb Brown, a researcher at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, told National Geographic. “We have a dinosaur as it would have been.”

When this dinosaur — a member of a new species named nodosaur — was alive, it was an enormous four-legged herbivore protected by a spiky, plated armor and weighing in at approximately 3,000 pounds.

Today, the mummified nodosaur is so intact that it still weighs 2,500 pounds.

How the dinosaur mummy could remain so intact is still something of a mystery, although as CNN says, researchers suggest that the creature “may have been swept away by a flooded river and carried out to sea, where it eventually sank.

Over millions of years on the ocean floor, minerals took the place of the dinosaur’s armor and skin, preserving it in the lifelike form now on display.”

Although the nodosaur dinosaur mummy was so well-preserved, getting it into its current display form was still an arduous undertaking.

The creature was, in fact, first discovered in 2011 when a crude oil mine worker accidentally discovered the specimen while on the job.

Since that lucky moment, it has taken researchers 7,000 hours over the course of the last six years to both tests the remains and prepare them for display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, where visitors now have the chance to see the closest thing to a real-life dinosaur that the world has likely ever seen.

A student found an ancient Canadian village that’s 10,000 years older than the Pyramids

A student found an ancient Canadian village that’s 10,000 years older than the Pyramids

An ancients village dating back to before the Pyramids era was discovered by a team from Canadian Ph.D. students.

CTV reports that a team of students from the University of Victoria’s archeology department has uncovered the oldest settlement in North America.

This ancient village was discovered when researchers were searching Triquet Island, an island located about 300 miles north of Victoria, British Columbia.

The team found ancient fish hooks and spears, as well as tools for making fires.

However, they really hit the jackpot when they found an ancient cooking hearth, from which they were able to obtain flakes of charcoal burnt by prehistoric Canadians.

Using carbon dating on the charcoal flakes, the researchers were able to determine that the settlement dates back 14,000 years ago, making it significantly older than the pyramids of Ancient Egypt, which were built about 4,700 years ago.

To understand how old that truly is, one has to consider that the ancient ruler of Egypt, Cleopatra lived closer in time to you than she did to the creation of the pyramids.

Even to what we consider ancient people, the Egyptian pyramids were quite old.

This newly discovered settlement dates back more than three times older than the pyramids.

Alisha Gauvreau, a Ph.D. student who helped discover this site said, “I remember when we got the dates back, and we just sat back and said, ‘Holy moly, this is old.’”

She and her team began investigating the area for ancient settlements after hearing the oral history of the indigenous Heiltsuk people, which told of a sliver of land that never froze during the last ice age.

William Housty, a member of the Heiltsuk First Nation, said, “To think about how these stories survived only to be supported by this archeological evidence is just amazing.”

“This find is very important because it reaffirms a lot of the history that our people have been talking about for thousands of years.”

Researchers believe that this settlement indicates a mass human migration down the coast of British Columbia.

“What this is doing, is changing our idea of the way in which North America was first peopled, said Gauvreau.”

The students hope to continue to search nearby islands for more evidence of this migration.

Oldest weapons ever discovered in North America pre-date Clovis

Researchers Uncover 15,500-Year-Old Weapons, The Earliest Ever Found In North America

A group of scientists in Texas has recently discovered North America’s oldest weapon ever found, and archeologists call into question the history of the early settlers of the continent.

The weapons are ancient spear points which date back 15,500 years. They are around three to four inches long and were excavated from the Debra L. Friedkin site located about 40 miles outside of Austin, T.X.

The researchers recently published their findings in the journal Science Advances, and these record-breaking weapons are raising new questions about the first groups to settle in North America, once believed to be the Clovis people.


“The findings expand our understanding of the earliest people to explore and settle North America,” Michael Waters, a distinguished professor of anthropology and director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans at Texas A&M, said in a statement.

“The peopling of the Americas during the end of the last Ice Age was a complex process and this complexity is seen in their genetic record. Now we are starting to see this complexity mirrored in the archaeological record.”

These small weapons were made from stone and feature a triangular, lanceolate (leaf-shaped) point. Their fluted base allowed them to be easily attached to the end of a spear.

The new, pre-Clovis spear points discovered in Texas.

The weapons were found buried under several feet of sediment and amongst many Clovis and Folsom “projectile points.” The Clovis people date back between 13,000 to 12,700 years ago and the Folsom came after that.

Thus, for many years, the Clovis people were believed to be the first to venture into the continent, but these newly discovered spear points pre-date that group by thousands of years.

The researchers point out that stone tools from before the time of the Clovis people have been found, but these are the first weapons that pre-date the Clovis to ever be discovered.

“There is no doubt these weapons were used for hunting game in the area at that time,” Waters said. “The discovery is significant because almost all pre-Clovis sites have stone tools, but spear points have yet to be found.”

Excavations at the Friedkin site in Texas.

Clovis-style spear points, aptly named the “Clovis point,” have been discovered in Texas, parts of the U.S., and in Northern Mexico, but they are around 2,500 years younger than these spear points most recently found at the Friedkin site.

“The dream has always been to find diagnostic artifacts — such as projectile points — that can be recognized as older than Clovis and this is what we have at the Friedkin site,” Waters said.

This momentous discovery has answered many long-held questions from archaeologists about tools and weapons used by early Americans. However, as with all major discoveries, many new questions have popped up as well.

Who made these weapons? Did these tools inspire the other projectile points that came after? Or were they brought to North America during a migration?

Despite the remaining questions, these ancient weapons have unlocked countless secrets about the lives of those who came before us in North America.

Derinkuyu: the advanced underground city in Turkey using ventilation shafts that could date as far back as 15th century BC

Derinkuyu: the advanced underground city in Turkey using ventilation shafts that could date as far back as 15th century BC

Derinkuyu is the deepest excavated underground city in Cappadocia in the Central Anatolia region of Turkey. A beautiful natural wonder with impressive fairy chimneys and eroded caverns, Cappadocia is an amazing geological spectacle.

It is also riddled with extensive subterranean dwellings and secret tunnel passages that various people utilized for shelter across the centuries.

There are hundreds of these homes in the region, and Derinkuyu is the most famous. At a depth of more than 250 feet with a capacity of up to 20,000 people, this multi-leveled city contained everything an entire population would need to survive a history riddled with invasions.

Formation and Discovery

Several million years ago, volcanic eruptions spewed layer after layer of ash, called tuff or tufa. Over time the tuff cemented into a soft, easily carvable, yet relatively stable rock. Inhabitants of ancient Anatolia realized that they could carve out their homes right into the hillsides and underground. Derinkuyu is one of the many rock-cut dwellings in the region, however, it is the deepest one to date.

The discovery of the subterranean dwellings occurred in 1963 during the renovation of a surface home. When a wall caved in, an underground room that led to a subterranean passageway opened up. Upon exploration of the passageway, the workers realized that it led even further into a deep labyrinth. It was an astonishing find.

Features of Derinkuyu

Within the enormous eighteen levels of the city (only eight are accessible), researchers found kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, food storage rooms, oil and wine presses, wells, weapons storage areas, churches, schools, tombs, and domestic animal stables.

There were rooms of varying sizes for different needs. Small spaces turned out to be rock-cut tombs, while large spaces provided the ideal rooms for community meetings and schools.

It is evident that the people planned to be completely self-sufficient. More than fifty ventilation shafts brought in the air from above, while thousands of smaller ducts distributed that air throughout the entire city.

Some archaeologists believe that an 8-kilometer long passageway connects Derinkuyu to another amazing underground city in Kaymakli. This suggests that there was some degree of cooperation between the various civilizations of the Cappadocia region.

The winery.
The Derinkuyu underground city is an ancient multi-level cave city in Cappadocia, Turkey. Stone used as a door in the old underground city

What is the Age of Derinkuyu and Who Built It?

The age of Derinkuyu and who built it is uncertain. It is known that the Hittites dominated the Anatolia region from about 1600 BCE to about 1200 BCE.

After this period, the Hittite Empire collapsed into smaller groups, possibly due to multiple invasions and wars. Subsequently, the Phrygians migrated to the area from the Balkans. Thus, if the Hittites built the dwelling, as a number of scholars believe, it may have been well before 1200 BCE.

Other experts theorize that the Phrygians built the subterranean city, which could have taken place between 1200 BCE and 800 BCE. Later, Persians, Macedonians (Alexander the Great), Greeks, Armenians, Syrians, and many other groups had a presence in Cappadocia.

The earliest known mention in writing of underground cities in the Cappadocia kingdom came from a Greek historian-soldier named Xenophon in 370 BCE. Xenophon spent time and traveled throughout the region. In his work, Anabasis he says:

The houses here were underground, with a mouth like that of a well, but spacious below; and while entrances were tunneled down for the beasts of burden, the human inhabitants descended by a ladder. In the houses were goats, sheep, cattle, fowls, and their young; and all the animals were reared and took their fodder there in the houses.

Uses as a Shelter

Safety Designs

The people who built Derinkuyu designed it with safety features, which indicates that the underground dwellings served as refuges. Doors consisted of a rollable disc-shaped stone with a small hole in the middle that covered entrances and passages during raids.

Some people speculate the hole allowed soldiers to shoot arrows out, or perhaps a strong beam through the hole allowed users to open and shut the door more easily.

It may also have served as one of the first “peepholes.” Because the doors only opened and closed from the inside, the inhabitants within the complex had complete control. It was much easier to defend the village through a small opening versus a large opening through which anyone could easily walk.

Heavy disk-shaped door provided security during raids.

Each level connected to the next level by a hallway with a similar stone door. Additionally, narrow passages forced people to go through in single file. Again, this made it much easier to defend against incoming soldiers.

The underground city had a water containment system that also took safety as a consideration. It appears that one of the main ventilation shafts also served as a large well.

Main ventilation shaft and well.

However, the wells within the city did not all link together, nor did they all go to the surface. This protected inhabitants from invaders who might think to poison the entire water system from the outside.