Archaeologist Uncovers Clues To Ancient Roman Vineyard

Mon, 01/28/2013 - 04:51

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An American classics professor has uncovered ancient grape seeds that could provide insight into Roman Chianti vineyards.

One of the world’s authorities on the Etruscans, Nancy Thomson de Grummond is the M. Lynette Thompson Professor of Classics and Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University. She unearthed 150 waterlogged grape seeds during a dig in Cetamura del Chianti, an ancient hilltop located in the heart of the Chianti district of Tuscany near Siena, during the summer of 2012.

De Grummond serves as project director of archaeological excavations at Cetamura del Chianti, which is in an area once inhabited by the Etruscans and then the Ancient Romans. Faculty and students of Florida State University have conducted research at the archaeological site since it opened in 1973.

Thought to date to the 1st century AD, De Grummond believes the tiny grape seeds could provide “a real breakthrough” in the understanding of the history of Chianti vineyards in the area by providing information for experts in vineyard-grape DNA sequencing. She said that researchers in southern France, who are compiling a database of vineyard seeds, will study the grape seeds from the dig.

De Grummond told the university’s news website: “We don’t know a lot about what grapes were grown at that time in the Chianti region. Studying the grape seeds is important to understanding the evolution of the landscape in Chianti. There’s been lots of research in other vineyards but nothing in Chianti.”