Biblical Archaeology Review 37:5, September/October 2011

Strata: Was This Noah’s Winery?

Robert Mondavi may have been one of the best-known vineyard operators in recent years, but Noah was the first. This is often overlooked in the shadow of Noah’s deluge-defying ark accomplishment, but the Bible states very clearly in Genesis 9 that, after the ark ran aground in the mountains of Ararat, “Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard” (Genesis 9:20), the wine from which unfortunately led to another of Noah’s more famous stories—of drunken exposure. And although many scholars would be tempted to dismiss claims of Noah’s original vineyard as lacking any historical merit, scientists are discovering evidence of ancient wine making in that very same region.

In a recent article in the Journal of Archaeological Science,1 archaeologists from a joint Armenian, American and Irish expedition announced the discovery of the earliest known wine-making operation in an Armenian cave near the southern border with Iran. This site, which lies about 60 miles from Turkey’s Mt. Ararat, the traditional site of the Biblical ark’s grounding, contained well-preserved ancient remains thanks to a dry, consistent temperature and a layer of sheep dung in the cave that formed a protective layer over the artifacts and organic remains.

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