The oldest grape seed of the Western Mediterranean found in western Sardinia

The oldest grape seed of the Western Mediterranean found in western Sardinia

sito nuragico in Sardegna

A discovery that rewrites the history of viticulture in the Western Mediterranean has been unearthed in Sardinia.

A team of archaeologists and archaeobotanists the from University of Cagliari’s Biodiversity Conservation Centre (CCB) and led by Professor Gianluigi Bacchetta, has discovered grape vine seeds dating back to the Nuragic civilization, in a well that served as a food storage ‘refrigerator’ in a dolmen in Sa Osa (Cabras, Oristano).

Prof. Bacchetta explained that “The grape-seeds were found in a non-carbonised state, in near-‘fresh’ condition, very similar in consistency to what one might find growing in a grape today”.

Radiocarbon dating the Vernaccia and Malvasia seeds places the find at 3000 years ago. This significant find proves that the cultivation of wine had already taken place in Sardinia during the Bronze Age and was not imported by the Phoenicians as was previously thought. Until now, we believed that viticulture was developed by the Phoenicians and brought to Sardinia when they colonised the island in 800 BC.

“To say that viticulture in the West was born on the Island would be an exaggeration,” Bacchetta told La, “and would not be supportable based on current scientific evidence. What is certain, though, is that the vines in Sardinia were not brought by the Phoenicians; we know that Lebanon already cultivated even before the time of the Nuragic. The vines are not an effect of import; therefore, we think that in Sardinia there has been what we call ‘domestication’ of onsite species of wild vine, which are still widespread throughout the island. It is important to understood, however, that the Nuragic people were very active in trade and had contact with other civilizations, such as those of Crete and Cyprus, who cultivated the vine.”

In order to settle their hypothesis , the team  has begun amassing material evidence from other archaeological sites and tracing biological likenesses through the strains of ancient Mediterranean grape varieties.

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