Thursday, February 16, 2006

King Tut's White Wine and The Absence of Evidence

Well, absence of evidence until now.

Until now, it was thought that white wine (/white grapes) did not exist in Egypt until 3rd century CE. Yet thye just discovered King Tut was buried with white wine. (Or at least, so they think.) This is 1600 years earlier.

So the absence of evidence of white wine for 1600 years in Egypt is not evidence of absence.

See the article in New Scientist:

Rosa Lamuela-Raventós and her colleagues from the University of Barcelona, Spain, used liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to analyse the residue from six of the jars in Tutankhamen's tomb. All contained tartaric acid, a chemical characteristic of grapes, but only one contained syringic acid, found in the skin of red grapes. It's this skin that gives red wine its colour.

The absence of the chemical in the other five jars suggests the wine in them was white. Because it is unlikely Egyptian wine makers would have removed red grape skins to create white wines as modern wine makers do, white grapes probably did exist in Tutankhamen's time.

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