U.S. archaeologists may have found the ancestor of Chianti wine in an ancient well in the Chiantishire region of Tuscany.
Found in Cetamura, an ancient hilltop near Gaiole in Chianti in the province of Siena, the 105-foot-deep well yielded a bonanza of artifacts such as bronze vessels, cups, statuettes, coins and game pieces. The objects span a period of more than 15 centuries and embrace Etruscan, Roman and medieval civilization in Tuscany.
The most precious material, though, might be some 500 waterlogged grape seeds.
Found in at least three different levels of the well, which include the Etruscan and Roman levels, the perfectly preserved pips can provide key insights into the history of viticulture in a region now famous for its bold reds.
"The seeds were found at levels ranging from the third century B.C. to the first century A.D. Since they are not burned, they might carry preserved DNA," Nancy de Grummond, a professor of classics at Florida State, told Discovery News.
De Grummond, who has performed work at Cetamura since 1983, has been excavating the well for the past four years under the supervision of the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany and with the help of the Italian archaeological firm of Ichnos, directed by Francesco Cini.