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Ancient Greek food trade identified through DNA analysis

Researchers performing DNA analysis on Greek amphorae have been able to determine the contents, shedding some light on ancient food trade.

During the fifth through third centuries B.C., the Mediterranean and Black seas were major thoroughfares for ships loaded with thousands of curvaceous jars known as amphorae, thought from their shape to contain a drink made from fermented grape juice.

But only recently have researchers peered through the lens of 21st century genetics to identify the actual remnants of the jars’ long-disappeared cargo. Analyses of DNA fragments from the interior of nine jars from Mediterranean shipwrecks now reveal various combinations of olive, ginger, walnut and herbs in the rosemary family, along with the expected grapes.

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Story: Susan Gaidos, Science News | Photo: Ashmolean Museum, Univ. of Oxford, The Bridgeman Art Library International

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