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It may also turn out to be evidence of the oldest wine produced not only in Italy but perhaps anywhere in the world.

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But no evidence of tartaric acid and its salt was found which would provide more definitive evidence that the containers were used to ferment grapes for production of wine.

The presence of malvidin, while interesting, is by itself is not sufficient to certify existence of winemaking since the residue could be attributable to other fruits such as pomegranates, for example, which are prevalent in the region.

Archaeologists uncovered fermentation and storage containers as well as remnants of grape skins and seeds.

Chemical tests also revealed traces of malvidin, the plant-based pigment that is very abundant in nature and gives grapes and several other fruits - like blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates - their red-to-blue color.

It is here that several potential wine-making sites dating back to the 4 millennium BC have been excavated, coincidentally the same approximate period as the recent Sicilian discovery.

Perhaps the most well-known of these sites is one discovered in 2011 in a cave near the village of Areni in Armenia.While they’ve tested wine on occasion, they’re more likely to study soil, lake and ocean sediment, stalagmites (rock formations in caves) and coral reefs.“High-precision carbon-14 measurements are made for scientists working in every carbon pool on Earth,” Druffel says, “from atmospheric CO at Barrow, Alaska, to foram shells from Antarctic Ocean sediment, to earthquake-disturbed soil on the San Andreas fault, to black carbon in the deep Pacific.” Circle of life Carbon-14 is a radioactive isotope formed in the atmosphere by cosmic rays and absorbed by plants, animals and all other living things.He’s checking core samples from the ocean floor to see if the carbon was somehow trapped in the deep sea before being released back out into the atmosphere.“This will improve our overall understanding of global climate change,” he says.“That’s the grand, overarching theme of our research.” Real-world applications While advancing knowledge of the carbon cycle, the lab pursues side projects, such as determining the age of a mammoth and other fossils pulled from the La Brea Tar Pits (see related story).

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