Vanilla with your wine? 2,600 years ago, it was all the rage


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The ancient clay jug discovered at Cave 53 in the Qumran region in southern Israel.
Amir Ganor/Israel Antiquities AuthorityThe ancient clay jug discovered at Cave 53 in the Qumran region in southern Israel.

The use of vanilla emphasizes the wealth of ancient Jerusalem, new research concludes

More than 2,6000 years ago, the elite of Jerusalem flavored their wine with vanilla, new archaeological research shows. 

By investigating broken wine jars from the time of the last king of Israel, King Zedekiah, in the 6th century BCE, researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Antiquities Authority found traces of vanilla in five of eight jars, Haaretz reported. 

It is still unknown where the vanilla came from, however, the researchers suggest it could derive from either Madagascar, India, or Africa as long-distance trading was common at the time. Assumably, the vanilla bean was imported via Arabia, enabled by either the Assyrians, the Egyptians, or the Babylonians. 

“Its discovery in so many jars in Jerusalem stresses the relative wealth of the residents of Jerusalem at the time,” Dr. Yiftah Shalev of the Israel Antiquities Authority told the Israeli daily. ...

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Although the researchers did not expect to find vanilla in the jars, it is not unusual finding vanilla traces in ancient artifacts. 

Already in the Bronze Age, 500 years before the time of King Zedekiah, vanilla was detected in graves, the researchers explained.

In 586 BCE, King Zedekiah’s kingdom was destroyed by the Babylonians.

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