Digging this summer at the ruins of a 1700 B.C. Canaanite palace in northern Israel, archaeologists struck wine. Near the banquet hall where rulers of a Middle Bronze Age city-state and their guests feasted, a team of U.S. and Israeli researchers broke through to a storage room holding the remains of 40 large ceramic jars. The vessels were broken, their liquid contents long since vanished — but not without a trace.

An analysis of residues left in the 3-foot-tall jars detected organic traces of acids that are common components of all wine, as well as ingredients popular in ancient winemaking. These included honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins used as a preservative. The recipe was similar to medicinal wines used for 2,000 years in ancient Egypt. The archaeologists who have been exploring the Canaanite site, known as Tel Kabri, announced Friday that they had found one of civilization’s oldest and largest wine cellars. The room held the equivalent of about 3,000 bottles of red and white wines, they said — and they suspected that this was not the palace’s only wine cellar. “This is a hugely significant discovery,” George Washington University’s Eric Cline, a co-director of the excavations. “It’s a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in its age and size.”

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