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Zvartnots 9: Storage Jars.

Storage Jars

The palace storage room (maran) to the north of the throne hall includes medieval storage jars used at the site. They were made from local clay and designed in such a way that they lay on their side during the fermenting process but could be tipped upright with supports when ready.

Later additions to the palace include a winery to the south of the Roman Baths, discovered by Toramanian in the 1931 excavation. The winery had two grape-pressing halls with round and square vats that held the foot-pressed juice. It was then fermented in special jars in another set of halls and served to the Catholicos and his guests. Each vat held 4-5 thousand liters of wine, with total capacity of 22,000 liters (almost 5,800 gallons). In the palace area there are two large jars on display used to store fermented wine.
Armenian winemaking

There are multiple cultivars of grapes endemic to Armenia and others that took root yet in Ancient Armenia: charred grape seeds found at Karmir Blur /Yerevan/ prove that Voskehat, Garan dmak, Mskhali, Ararti and other kinds of grapes are of Armenian origin. Evidence of wine and mead (an alcoholic drink made from wheat and barley) are found in Neolithic excavations; domesticated wheat and grape figured prominently in the Armenian Neolithic “cuisine”. The oldest known wine process was found in the Armenian plateau, near like Urmia, in several jars dating to the Neolithic Period. Using a variety of food processing techniques-fermentation, soaking, heating, and spicing-Neolithic peoples are credited with the first production of bread, beer, wine and an array of meat and grain entrees we continue to enjoy today.
Later, the 5th century BC Greek historian Herodotus describes shipping wine down the Euphrates or Tigris rivers from Armenia: round skin boats were loaded with date-palm casks of wine and delivered to Babylon.

Crafts important in food and drink preparation and its storage grew alongside the new found cuisine, especially that of vessels which began appearing before 6000 BC. The pottery is made from clay –an abundant easy-to-use material ideal for making what some say was the first mass-production item in history: the storage jar. Once fired, the hand shaped jars are basically impervious to natural decay, while the porous material allowed the jars to “breathe”, creating an ideal condition for the fermenting of wine.


The text was edited by ICOMOS/Armenia NGO.