NOTES OF WINE SINCE THE 4TH MILLENNIUM B.C. AND THE EVIDENCE FROM ERIMI / PART 3 OF 3
Turning back to Cyprus, it is curious to note that real horns have been used without solution of continuity until recent times and that the village tradition conserves the memory of their use during special occasions or festivities and during the wine festivals organised every year to welcome the new wine. In addition, in many Cypriote villages, eventually famous for their production of wine, there are house-museums, where it is possible to see wineskins, pumpkins used as funnels and ladles, and giant old jars which belonged to the grandfather wine equipment and horns hung on the wall. In these villages it is also possible to see some ancient “linos” to make wine. These were medium size or large rooms equipped with a stone built basin to tread grapes. The basins were strategically positioned under a large opening on the roof from which the grapes were thrown down. The basin was provided by a hole on the side bottom which allowed to collect the liquid after fermentation and eventually to transfer that in large jars positioned nearby. They are very similar to the Italian and insular “Palmenti”, carved in the rock, consisting in a large squared basin with a hole on the bottom side to collect only the liquid after fermentation (pic. 67).
This equipment is not far from the one used in prehistoric times represented on some scenic vases as the famous Pyrgos vase found in a tomb of the 19 century BC. The plastic decoration of the vase is composed by many ﬁgurines of men, women and animals all attending at wine making (pic.68). The representation develops around the principal female ﬁgure engaged in foot treading grapes in an oval vat furnished of a large spout from which the liquid is intended to be collected in a large bowl. This is one of the most ancient representation of wine making, the unique realised around the shoulders of a vase to date.
The vat for treading grapes made of stones, cement or bricks, is still one of the most used home wine equipment in Europe, but in Cyprus few examples survive in their original context. The best preserved is located at Erimi village in the Aghios Georghios cave not far from the village. The cave recently reopened and cleaned was fully equipped for making and storing wine, and the built implements are almost intact including the large hole on the ceiling from which the grapes were throw down in the “linos”. The entrance of Aghios Georghios cave was hidden by large stones, probably since the XVI century, curiously in connection with the departure of the last Templars from Cyprus (1517). Unfortunately, today the village, from which comes one of the most ancient Mediterranean wines, and the most ancient examples of wine jars, no longer has any vineyards cultivated in its land.
In turn today, the wine tradition of Erimi village and the wine history of Cyprus in general is preserved in The Cyprus Wine Museum of Erimi village in Limassol.
Dr. Maria Rosaria Belgiorno
CNR – Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, Rome – Italy