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RIA Novosti

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Wine cellars dating from late Middle Ages discovered in Georgia

21:01 11/08/2005

TBILISI, August 11 (RIA Novosti) - Wine cellars and the remains of an irrigation system dating back to 14th-16th centuries have been found in southern Georgia's Atskuri village during gas pipeline construction work.

The head of the archaeological expedition Vakhtang Licheli said diggings had revealed a functional grape press, which had been used to produce grape vodka, chacha, and kvevri (wine jars) buried underground.

Scientists said the discovery corroborated ethnographic research into ancient grape-pressing methods.

Archaeologist Zurab Rcheulishvili said artifacts found in the wine cellars provided evidence that the worship of the vine and of wine that had been typical of Georgian tribes on this territory since antiquity had continued up until the late Middle Ages.

The cellars were discovered during work on the construction of the South-Caucasian pipeline, which will link Baku, Tbilisi, and Erzurum. According to agreements between the Georgian government and investors, the work will continue after Georgian archaeologists complete excavation.

The operator of the gas pipeline and the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline allocated $2 million for archaeological research in Georgia along both pipelines.

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