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May 30, 2022 View:

Archaeologists find ancient wine barrels in Reims, France

New findings have recently emerged from the discovery of wine barrels by a team of archaeologists in Reims, the largest city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. The barrels, first discovered in 2008, have been studied by archaeologists and date back to somewhere between 100 and 400 AD.

Photo courtesy of: Le Wine Guest

The barrels were found in a well-preserved condition, which has helped archaeologists to more easily determine their origin, method of production, and purpose of making them.

Although it is thought that these barrels were eventually used as water barrels, residues of malic and tartaric acid on the barrels indicate that they were once used to ferment wine and were used in the wine trade.

The 45 identification marks on the barrel validate this suspicion.

The researchers believe that these marks represent both the steps of the barrel-making process and show where the barrels went after they were made. First barrel makers leave the first mark on the barrel. Each step, from making the sticks to assembling the final product, would have an exclusive marker located in a different place on the barrel. The equivalent of today"s accountability system.

Once the barrels are made, the wine merchant who gets the barrels marks them a second time and then sends them to the wine supplier. The wine supplier will then mark the barrels a third time after they are filled with wine. These markings varied from a description of the type of wine in the barrel to an indication of where the barrel was going, such as to the military, a tavern owner or a merchant.

By reading these markers, the archaeological research team finally concluded that many different people in the wine industry were involved in the geographical, interprovincial and economic circulation. This network brought together winegrowers, artisans, merchants, sponsors, transporters, and agents.

The barrels were made from materials from all over Europe, with European silver fir for the sticks, hazelnut saplings for the hoops, and a Mediterranean grass that was found to hold the barrels together.

The barrels are currently on display at an exhibition in Reims.