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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Royal wine

And thank you again to Dulcie Engel, who led our handling session on ways of writing. This is one of the objects she chose and our volunteers got to actually touch it. Another item is featured here. We are doing a session in March for members of the public.

W960. Pottery neck of wine jar with hieratic inscription.

The inscription states that the wine came from a vineyard in the Western River and was bottled in the 12th year of the reign of the king. In 3 pieces. 27.5cm long. From Amarna.

The Western River is thought to be the Canopic branch of the Nile in the western Delta. Wine making in ancient Egypt dates back to at least the Early Dynastic Period. According to Plutarch it was the god Osiris who first taught the Egyptians to drink wine. The best wine came from the Delta region.

Most of the fragments of wine jars from Amarna were found in the Central Palace, though there a number of fragments also come from the Workmen’s Village. It has been suggested that the wine labels found in the Workmen’s Village show that vessels were reused for other purposes. Wine labels are important for dating the site of Amarna. Year 17 is the latest attested date of label.

This seems to read:
HAt-sp 12                                              year 12
irp (nDm) n pr.....                                 wine (sweet) of the house [i.e. estate]....
n itrw imnty Hri KAmw             of the Western River, vineyard supervisor....

Further Reading.

Murray, M.A. 2000. Viticulture and Wine Production in Nicholson, P.T. and Shaw, I. Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology, Cambridge University Press.

Wahlberg, E-L. 2012. The Wine Jars Speak. A Text Study. University of Uppsala (online- http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:528049/FULLTEXT01.pdf).


  1. They did indeed. If you follow the link to the Wahlberg paper you will see more about the different types of wine.