The ancestor of Chianti wine may have been found in this ancient 105-foot-deep well in the Chiantishire region of Tuscany.
Located in Cetamura, an ancient hilltop near Gaiole in Chianti in the province of Siena, the well has been excavated for the past four years by a team led by Nancy de Grummond, a professor of classics at Florida State, under the supervision of the Archaeological Superintendency of Tuscany and with the help of the Italian archaeological firm of Ichnos.
The archaeologists unearthed a bonanza of artifacts spanning a period of more than 15 centuries, and embracing Etruscan, Roman and medieval civilization in Tuscany.
Artifacts recovered ranged from bronze vessels, votive cups, statuettes, bronze artifats to coins, game pieces and animal bones.
The most precious material, though, might be some 500 waterlogged grape seeds.
Found in at least three different levels of the well, which include the Etruscan and Roman levels, the perfectly preserved pips might reveal the ancestors of Chianti an provide key insights into the history of viticulture in a region now famous for its bold reds.
Offerings found in the well, which like other water sources in antiquity, was regarded as sacred, included hundreds of miniature votive cups, some 70 bronze and silver coins, numerous pieces used in games of fortune, and several statuettes. Here is a bronze statuette of a playful calf.
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.
The archaeologists were able to put into context the grape pips as they unearthed many objects associated with wine drinking and numerous ceramic vessels related to wine storage. The picture shows an Etruscan wine strainer handle with deer head finial.