Celts consumed Greek wine according to a recent study of ceramic containers which have been excavated from the hillfort site of Vix-Mont Lassois in Burgundy.
Hundreds of fragments from ninety-nine of the containers have shed light on how the drinking customs of the early Celts varied according to social class and occasion.
A description of the findings was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE, a peer-reviewed science periodical.
Discoveries suggest both imported and locally-produced drinking vessels for the Greek wine and local beer were utilized—and while beer was enjoyed by all, warriors drank millet beer while elites consumed ale made of barley or wheat.
Celts drank Greek wine and used the imported pottery
The authors of the study explained that “The Celts in the Early Iron Age did not just drink imported Greek wine from their imported Greek pottery.”
“They also used the foreign vessels, in their own way, for drinking different kinds of local beer, as organic residue analysis of 100 Early Iron Age local and Mediterranean drinking vessels from Mont Lassois, France, shows,” the researchers claim.
The study is the first of its kind to investigate the impact of Greek imports and Mediterranean feasting and consumption practices on ancient Celts.
But how did scientists determine if ancient Celts were mimicking Greek customs or using Greek wine and ceramics for their own specific Celtic cultural practices?
The study of organic residues
Experts utilized gas chromatography to analyze organic residues extracted from 99 unearthed ceramic fragments. Researchers chemically analyzed organic residues of pottery fragments from vessels identified in four different locations at the site.
This groundbreaking technology has enabled scientists to cast new light on the food consumption habits of people who lived ages ago.
The ancient Celts, among whom women held greater political influence than was typically the case in most other Bronze Age European societies, inhabited what is today Germany, France, and Switzerland at around 500 BC.