Chianti Wine Ancestor Found: Page 2

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Meanwhile, archaeologists were able to put into context the grape pips as they unearthed many objects associated with wine serving and drinking and numerous ceramic vessels related to wine storage.

"A curious detail is that the grape seeds were often found inside the bronze buckets, perhaps indicating a ritual element," de Grummond said.

She noted the seeds were also found at the very bottom of the well, along with olive pits and hazel nuts, very likely offerings made at the time when the well was completed.

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A large amount of well-preserved wood, probably also part of the offerings, was also recovered from the bottom.

"Many of the pieces of wood were worked, and already several objects have been identified: parts of wooden buckets, a spatula or spoon, a spool, a rounded object like a knob or child's top," de Grummond said.

These and other finds -- from animal bones to numerous worked and unworked deer antlers -- suggest that cult activity took place at the well.

"Like other water sources in antiquity, the well was regarded as sacred," de Grummond said.

"Two Etruscan gods, named Lur and Leinth, were worshiped in a nearby sanctuary of Cetamura as gods of good fortune. They were probably the deities of the place," she added.

Offerings found in the well included hundreds of miniature votive cups, some 70 bronze and silver coins, and numerous pieces used in games of fortune, such as astragali, which are akin to jacks.

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Among the most notable finds are 14 Roman and Etruscan bronze vessels, of different shapes and sizes and with varying decorations, that had been used to extract water.

One of the Etruscan vessels, actually a wine bucket, appears finely tooled and decorated with figurines of the marine monster Skylla, while another is adorned with a bronze finial of the head of a feline with the mane of a lion and the spots of a leopard. African heads, probably sphinxes, worked as handle attachments.

"This rich assemblage of materials and remarkable evidence of organic remains such as the grape seeds, create an unparalleled opportunity for the study of culture, religion and daily life in Chianti and the surrounding region," de Grummond said.

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