Uncorking the history of wine with palaeogenomics

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster


The Mediterranean Basin is home to many of the world’s most celebrated winemaking regions, with certain traditions stretching back millennia. Despite wine’s economic and cultural significance, there are significant gaps in our knowledge of how domesticated grapevines were transported across the region and which varieties were used at different points in time. Through the application of cutting-edge palaeogenomic methods to well-preserved archaeological grape seeds, these questions are now being investigated across space and time. The methods incorporate optimised recovery of short DNA fragments and in-solution enrichment of thousands of informative loci in the grapevine genome. By comparing archaeological samples to one another and to a large reference panel of wild and domesticated grapevine varieties, this project provides the first widescale picture of how grapevine lineages were transported throughout ancient Europe. In particular, the ancient DNA data demonstrate that European winemaking practices changed dramatically during the Bronze Age, transitioning from the collection of wild grapevine resources to the propagation of grape lineages which are closely related to varieties still grown in modern vineyards. Longitudinal studies at individual archaeological sites provides detailed pictures of changing viniculture practices in local regions, and the combined dataset reveals larger patterns in cultural preferences from the late Bronze Age to the Middle Ages.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 2022
EventUK Archaeological Sciences Conference (UKAS) - University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Apr 202222 Apr 2022


ConferenceUK Archaeological Sciences Conference (UKAS)
Abbreviated titleUKAS
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

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