The Remarkable Areni-1 Cave Complex Armenia, a cultural landmark for human civilization, home to the worlds oldest Winery, and also the worlds oldest Leather Shoe. The caves have not been fully excavated, and are still in the process of excavation which will pan out for several years.
The Areni-1 shoe is a 5,500-year-old leather shoe that was found in 2008 in excellent condition in the Areni-1 cave complex located in the Vayots Dzor province of Armenia. It is a one-piece leather-hide shoe that has been dated as a few hundred years older than the one found on Ötzi the Iceman, making it the oldest piece of leather footwear in the world known to contemporary researchers.
The shoe was found in near-perfect condition due to the cool and dry conditions in the cave and a thick layer of sheep dung which acted as a solid seal. Large storage containers were found in the same cave, many of which held well-preserved wheat, barley, and apricots, as well as other edible plants. The shoe contained grass and the archaeologists were uncertain as to whether this was because the grass was used as insulation to keep the foot warm, or used to preserve the shape of the shoe while not being worn.
The shoe laces were preserved as well. Major similarities exist between the manufacturing technique and style of one-piece leather-hide shoes discovered across Europe and the one reported from Areni-1 Cave, suggesting that shoes of this type were worn for millennia across a large and environmentally diverse geographic region. The Areni-1 shoe is similar to the Irish pampooties, a shoe style worn in the Aran Islands up to the 1950s. The shoes are very similar to the traditional shoes of the Balkans, still seen today in festivals, known as Opanci (Opanke).
When the material was dated by the two radiocarbon laboratories in Oxford and California, it was established that the shoe dates back to 3,500 B.C. This date is a few hundred years older than the date given for the leather shoe found on Ötzi the Iceman, 400 years older than those found at Stonehenge, and 1,000 years older than those found at the Great Pyramid of Giza.After being treated for preservation, the Areni-1 shoe will be displayed at the History Museum of Armenia.
The Areni-1 winery is a 6,100-year-old winery that was discovered in 2007 in the Areni-1 cave complex in the village of Areni in the Vayots Dzor province of the Republic of Armenia by a team of Armenian and Irish archaeologists. The excavations were carried out by Boris Gasparyan of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and Ron Pinhasi from University College Cork (Ireland), and were sponsored by the Gfoeller Foundation (USA) and University College Cork.
In 2008 the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) also joined the project. Since then the excavations have been sponsored by UCLA and the National Geographic Society as well. The excavations of the winery were completed in 2010.
The winery consists of fermentation vats, a wine press, storage jars, pottery sherds, and is believed to be at least a thousand years older than the winery unearthed in the West Bank in 1963, which is the second oldest currently known.
The preliminary results of the Chemical analysis of the residues from the bottom of the wine-press and the storage jars were published in the Journal of Archaeological Science in January 2011. Botanical analysis and radiocarbon tests carried out by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and Oxford University have revealed the date of the Areni-1 winery to around 4100 BC and 4000 BC or the Late Chalcolithic Period.
According to Areshian, the vintners used their feet to press the wine in the clay basin, the juice of which would then drain into the vat, where it would remain to ferment until being stored in jars. The capacity of the vat has been estimated to be about 14-15 gallons. According to Areshian, the discovery of the winery has provided greater insight to the study of horticulture. Patrick E.
McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, has likewise emphasized the importance of the discovery, describing it as “important and unique, because it indicates large-scale wine production, which would imply, I think, that the grape had already been domesticated.”
The Areni-1 cave excavations belonged to the Proto-Armenian culture known as the Kura-Araxes culture, which was wide spread across the Ararat plain. The Kura-Araxes culture is also responsible for having the earliest evidence of metallurgical sites, Metsamor in Armenia being one one of the several examples.