THIS TAKES THE concept of “old world” to a whole new level. Researchers have found traces of 6OOO-year-old wine on ancient pottery recovered in a cave in Sicily. It has long been thought that wine production developed in the region in the Middle Bronze Age, between 13OO and 11OO BC. To put it into perspective, the wheel was invented approximately 42OO BC. The new findings, published in Microchemical Journal, would change that date by three millennia. The pottery was recovered in Agrigento, off Sicily’s southwest coast. An international team of scholars led by Davide Tanasi of the University of Southern Florida (USF) ran chemical analysis on residue on a storage jar dating from the Copper Age. The results showed traces of tartaric acid and its sodium salt, which occur in grapes and the wine-making process, meaning that the region’s wine production possibly began in the early fourth millennium BC. It is believed that the wine may have been left as an offering to underground deities. “The cave site of Monte Kronio is also a cult place used for religious practices from prehistory to Classical times,” Tanasi said. “This discovery has important archaeological and historical implications.” The researchers’ next move is to work out whether the wine was red or white.