Roman Tomb Find: The Discovery of the World’s Oldest Wine


Scientists have discovered what might be the world’s oldest wine in a Roman tomb in Carmona, Spain. This 2,000-year-old liquid was found mixed with human ashes in a burial urn. It gives us a unique look into the past and the advanced practices of ancient Roman society. This article explores this incredible discovery, its historical background, the careful process of finding it, and what it means for our understanding of ancient civilizations.

A gold ring was also found in the dark reddish liquid which was filled to the urn's brim (pictured) credit Juan Manuel Roman
a gold ring was also found in the dark reddish liquid which was filled to the urn’s brim (pictured) credit juan manuel roman

The Discovery of the World’s Oldest Wine

The Archaeological Site in Carmona

Carmona is a town in southern Spain, known for its rich history. It has many well-preserved Roman buildings and artifacts. The recent discovery of the world’s oldest wine adds to its historical importance. The wine was found in a burial urn, which was a common practice in Roman burials. The Romans often buried people with items they thought would be useful in the afterlife.

Initial Assumptions and Surprises

When archaeologists first found the urns, they thought they contained bones and other grave items. Finding liquid inside was a big surprise. Juan Manuel Román, an archaeologist, said, “It was very surprising because when we found the urns during an excavation, we took it for granted that they contained bones and grave goods, but we never imagined that there could be liquid inside.”

Roman Tomb Find: The Discovery of the World's Oldest Wine
Analysis of the liquid inside the urn concluded that it was white wine despite its dark colour, as it did not contain the polyphenols found in grape skins used to produce red wine

Historical Context of Roman Wine

Wine in Ancient Roman Culture

Wine was a big part of Roman life. People of all social classes drank it every day. It wasn’t just a drink; it was a symbol of social status and a key part of religious rituals. The Romans were skilled at making wine, and their methods are the basis for modern winemaking.

The Role of Wine in Roman Rituals and Burials

In Roman burials, wine often had a symbolic role. It was believed to purify the soul and help the dead reach the afterlife safely. Finding wine in a burial urn shows how important it was in Roman funerals and gives us insight into their spiritual beliefs.

The Archaeological Process

Roman Tomb Find: The Discovery of the World's Oldest Wine
roman tomb find: the discovery of the world's oldest wine 5

Excavation Techniques

The excavation in Carmona was done very carefully. Archaeologists used advanced methods to make sure the artifacts and the site were preserved. Finding liquid in the urn meant they had to be extra careful to prevent contamination and evaporation.

Preservation of Ancient Liquids

Preserving ancient liquids is very challenging. The team used special methods to extract and analyze the wine without changing its composition. This included using airtight containers and controlled environments to keep the liquid intact.

Chemical Analysis of the Wine

Methods Used for Analysis

The chemical analysis of the wine was done using advanced techniques. Scientists used chromatography and mass spectrometry to identify the compounds in the liquid. These methods gave a detailed understanding of the wine’s composition and how it was preserved for so long.

Findings and Their Significance

The analysis showed that the wine was white, even though it looked dark. This is because it didn’t have the polyphenols found in grape skins used to make red wine. This finding is important because it links ancient Roman winemaking practices to modern techniques.

Comparisons with Modern Wines

Similarities to Fino Wines

Interestingly, the ancient wine is similar to Fino wines made in the same region today. This suggests that winemaking traditions have continued for centuries, giving us a fascinating look at how viticulture has evolved.

Differences in Production Techniques

While there are similarities, there are also differences in how the wine was made. Modern winemaking uses technology and scientific knowledge that the Romans didn’t have. Understanding these differences helps us appreciate the skill and creativity of ancient winemakers.

Implications for Understanding Roman Society

Insights into Roman Burial Practices

Finding wine in a burial urn gives us valuable insights into Roman burial practices. It shows how important wine was in their rituals and beliefs about the afterlife. This discovery adds depth to our understanding of Roman funerals and their cultural significance.

The Social and Economic Role of Wine

Wine was not just a cultural item but also an economic product. Making and trading wine were important to the Roman economy. This discovery highlights the economic importance of viticulture and its role in shaping Roman society.

Challenges in Archaeological Discoveries

Preservation Issues

One of the main challenges in archaeological discoveries is preserving artifacts, especially organic materials like liquids. The successful preservation of the wine in Carmona shows the advanced techniques used by modern archaeologists.

Ethical Considerations in Excavation

Archaeological excavations often raise ethical questions, especially when dealing with human remains. The team in Carmona worked with respect and sensitivity, making sure the cultural and historical importance of the site was honored.

Future Research Directions

Potential for Further Discoveries

The discovery of the world’s oldest wine opens the door to more potential finds. It encourages archaeologists to look at other burial sites with new ideas, considering the possibility of finding similar artifacts.

Technological Advances in Archaeology

Technology continues to change archaeology. Techniques like remote sensing, DNA analysis, and 3D modeling are giving us new ways to explore and understand ancient sites. These tools will be very important in future discoveries.


Summary of Findings

The discovery of the world’s oldest wine in Carmona is a big achievement in archaeology. It gives us a unique look into the past, showing us Roman culture, burial practices, and winemaking techniques. This find highlights the importance of careful archaeological research and the potential for future discoveries.

The Importance of Archaeological Research

Archaeological research is crucial for uncovering the mysteries of our past. It helps us understand the cultural, social, and economic dynamics of ancient civilizations. The discovery in Carmona shows the value of this research and how it can enrich our knowledge of human history.


  • What is the significance of the world’s oldest wine discovery?
    The discovery gives us valuable insights into ancient Roman culture, burial practices, and winemaking techniques, helping us understand historical contexts better.
  • How was the wine preserved for 2,000 years?
    The wine was preserved in a burial urn, and advanced archaeological techniques were used to extract and analyze it without changing its composition.
  • What does the discovery tell us about Roman burial practices?
    The presence of wine in a burial urn shows its symbolic role in Roman funerals and beliefs about the afterlife.
  • How does the ancient wine compare to modern wines?
    The ancient wine is similar to modern Fino wines, suggesting a continuity in winemaking traditions, but also shows differences in production techniques.
  • What challenges do archaeologists face in preserving ancient liquids?
    Preserving ancient liquids is very challenging, including preventing contamination and evaporation, which require special methods and controlled environments.
  • What are the future directions for research in this area?
    Future research may involve looking at other burial sites for similar artifacts and using technological advances to explore and understand ancient sites better.

In conclusion, the discovery of the world’s oldest wine is a fascinating chapter in the story of human history. It not only sheds light on the practices and beliefs of ancient Romans but also shows the lasting importance of wine in human culture. As we continue to uncover the past, each discovery brings us closer to understanding the rich tapestry of our shared heritage.