George Washington University alumnus Zach Dunseth carefully removes dirt and debris from ancient wine jars while excavating the ruins of a Canaanite city that dates back to approximately 1700 B.C. George Washington University alumnus Zach Dunseth carefully removes dirt and debris from ancient wine jars while excavating the ruins of a Canaanite city that dates back to approximately 1700 B.C. Zach Dunseth carefully removes dirt and debris from ancient wine jars while excavating the ruins of a Canaanite city. (Photo: Eric H. Cline/George Washington University)

Archaeologists discover wine cellar that dates back nearly four millennia

Found near ancient banquet hall, wine stash equivalent to 3,000 bottles.

Researchers from the United States and Israel joined recently to unearth an incredibly old wine cellar.

The ancient wine was discovered in November at the 75-acre Tel Kabri site, a ruin in Northern Israel. Led by Eric H. Cline of George Washington University and Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa, the team found a three-foot-long jar they soon dubbed "Bessie." The jar appears to date back to approximately 1700 B.C.

“We dug and dug, and all of a sudden, Bessie’s friends started appearing,” Cline, chair of GW’s Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations within the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said in a statement. Eventually 40 jars in all were found in a 15-by-25-foot storage room.

“This is a hugely significant discovery," said Cline. "It’s a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in its age and size.”

These 3,700-year-old jars were discovered in an ancient palatial wine cellar unearthed by researchers at Tel Kabri in July 2013. The team worked in day and night shifts to excavate a total of 40 intact vessels during its six-week dig.These 3,700-year-old jars were discovered in an ancient palatial wine cellar unearthed by researchers at Tel Kabri in July 2013. (Photo: Eric H. Cline/George Washington University)

The cellar could hold approximately 2,000 liters (nearly 3,000 bottles of red or white wine these days).

“The wine cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine,” said Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.

A team of archaeologists discovered this storage room while excavating the site of Tel Kabri in northern Israel. The room measured approximately 15-by-25 feet, and held 40 wine jars that were 3,700 years old.A team of archaeologists discovered this storage room while excavating at Tel Kabri. (Photo: Eric H. Cline/George Washington University)

The discovery sparked international interest and has made the team even more eager to get back out there and keep digging. They've already found two doors leading out of the wine cellar that they suspect lead to even more storage rooms. Another dig is scheduled for 2015.

The wine in the jars is long gone, which may be for the best. They say wine gets better with age, but we can't imagine how wine this old would taste.

So how ancient is the wine cellar exactly?

It's 367 years older than King Tut (b. 1341 B.C.)

Tutankhamun's magnificent golden death mask at the Tutankhamun exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland in 2013.Tutankhamun's magnificent golden death mask at the Tutankhamun exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2013. (Photo: mountainpix/Shutterstock)

And 1,262 years older than the Parthenon.

The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.The Parthenon on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. (Photo: ivan bastien/Shutterstock)

And 1,494 years older than the Great Wall of China.

The Great Wall of China in the sunset.The Great Wall of China in the sunset. (Photo: chungking/Shutterstock)

And 1,770 years older than the Roman Colosseum.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy.The Colosseum in Rome, Italy. (Photo: Iakov Kalinin/Shutterstock)

And 3,476 years older than the United States of America.

The United States Constitution on an American flag.The United States Constitution on an American flag. (Photo: Mark Hayes/Shutterstock)

But, not quite as old as the pyramids.

View of the pyramids from the Giza Plateau in Cairo, Egypt.View of the pyramids from the Giza Plateau in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: WitR/Shutterstock)

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