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Jarring clues to Tut's white wine

12:33pm, May 30, 2006

Scientists studying jars recovered from King Tutankhamen's tomb have extracted the first chemical evidence of white wine in ancient Egypt.

A team led by Maria Rosa Guasch-Jané of the University of Barcelona analyzed the chemical makeup of dried liquid residues on the inside surfaces of six jars from the boy-king's tomb. The jars are now displayed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Residue in each jar contained tartaric acid, a chemical marker of grapes, the investigators report in the upcoming August Journal of Archaeological Science. One jar yielded dark residue that also displayed traces of syringic acid, a substance derived from the main pigment of red wine. The other jars served up yellow or pale-brown residues that lacked syringic acid. Those vessels must have held white wine, Guasch-Jané and her coworkers propose.

Two other jars from Tut's royal grave previously analyzed by the same researchers contained red wine residue.

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