Researchers: Cyprus winemaking oldest in Mediterranean
Friday, May 13 -- NICOSIA, Cyprus (Reuters) -- Cypriots are the Mediterranean's oldest winemakers, beating the Greeks to the fermented grape's heady effects by at least 2,000 years, according to Italian researchers.
Despite references to wine in the works of the ancient Greek poet Homer, archaeologists have only now found evidence that winemaking on the island dates back some 5,500 years.
"We found two jugs used for wine and even the seeds of the grapes. It's amazing," Italian archaeologist Maria Rosaria Belgiorno was quoted as telling the Cyprus Weekly newspaper.
The island's winemaking tradition is already well documented, but the latest discovery proves that Cypriots were the region's oldest winemakers, the paper said.
Commandaria, a Cypriot sweet dessert wine, is believed to be the oldest wine in the world still in production. But the world's oldest known winemaking process dates back about 7,000 years to Iran.
The origins of wine are unknown. Greek mythology names Dionysus, or Bacchus -- god of wine and mischief -- as its inventor in the Mediterranean, while historians believe it was discovered accidentally when some grapes were left to ferment.