Tutankhamun was a red wine drinker, according to
scientists who had been studying residue left in wine pitchers in
the ancient pharaoh's tomb.
Wine was a luxury drink in ancient Egypt and bottles
were labelled with the wine's name, year of harvest, source, and even
vine grower. Until this research was released in 2005, the colour of
the wine was unknown as it dried out over time. A team of Spanish
scientists developed a new technique which was able to pinpoint an
acid left by compounds in red wine.
Like his counterparts, the boy king Tutankhamun,
who died about 1324 BC, was buried along with all of the goods and
provisions that the ancient Egyptians believed their pharaoh would
need in the next life.
In death, the king had to have the same things he
had in life, including food and possessions, according to Maria Rosa
Guasch-Jane, the leader of the Spanish research team. The Egyptians
wanted the dead to enjoy their afterlife almost as if they hadn't
entered it in the first place. Possessions included a number of
pitchers containing wine, marked with details about the wine's
provenance, just as a modern vintner would include today.
A jar from Tutankhamun's tomb was marked: 'Year 5.
Wine of the House-of-Tutankhamun Ruler-of-the-Southern-on, l.p.h
(in) the Western River. By the chief Vintner Khaa'.
Over the thousands of years between the jars being
placed in the tomb and their being removed and placed in the British
Museum in London and the Egyptian Museum in London, the wine had dried
out completely, giving little clue as to what had once lain within.
Light shed on Shedeh
Archaeologists had thought for some time that the
wine drunk by ancient Egyptians may have been red - tomb paintings
showing grapes being pressed into wine were illustrated with red
and purple grapes. But final proof came with the invention of Ms
Guasch-Jane's technique, which uses both liquid chromatography and
mass spectrometry together.
It revealed syringic acid in scrapings taken from
two jars in Tutankhamun's tomb. Syringic acid is released by the
breakdown of the compound malvidin, found in red wine.
The scientists were also able to use the tool on
residues which had been left in other jars in order to establish
that a drink called Shedeh, the most precious drink in ancient
Egypt, was made from grapes rather than pomegranates, as was