• Germany edition
 
Museum scared to open ancient Roman wine
Photo: DPA

Museum scared to open ancient Roman wine

Published: 09 Dec 2011 11:55 GMT+01:00
Updated: 09 Dec 2011 11:55 GMT+01:00

The glass bottle, thought to be at least 1,650 years old, was found in a Roman grave near Speyer in 1867 and put on display at the museum. Since then, it’s been handled extremely carefully, and been on display in the exact same spot in the museum for 100 years.

Museum directors fear that a moment's carelessness could shatter the bottle, destroying its priceless content. Though scientists would like to test it to figure out exactly how old the wine is and where it comes from, as well as perhaps seeing how it tastes – cracking it open is out of the question.

“It’s not clear what would happen if air gets into the wine,” said Ludger Tekampe, who heads the department responsible for storing it.

There’s also the danger that, after all this time, it could have become poisonous, although scientists suspect the alcohol would not be dangerous, but just taste disgusting.

In any event, the ultra-old wine has survived a lot, including ancient drinkers, handling on its way to the museum, and two world wars, with nary a problem.

Tekampe said he hasn’t observed any changes in the wine or its container in his 25 years at the museum, the bottle appears to have been carefully constructed by the Romans to prevent the wine from decomposing.

“The content is remarkably stable,” Tekampe said.

Still he’s the only one who handles the bottle. Everyone else is just too afraid.

“I held the bottle in my hand twice during renovations. It was a strange feeling,” Tekampe said.

The Local/DPA/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

13:07 December 9, 2011 by Jeffvm
So is it sealed closed with glass then?
14:52 December 9, 2011 by Frenemy
I pity the fool who takes a drink of that muck...
15:39 December 9, 2011 by danamcmahon
What they need is a machine like there is on the planet mars studing the surface for clues. But dont let the CIA silly story you and say can we borrow it to study, cause if is more poisonous,and they break it open, and it kills most of them, they will start another war with you. Remember the frankenstien story.
18:59 December 9, 2011 by Englishted
Is this the stuff sold at the Berlin Christmas market ?.
19:28 December 9, 2011 by koli
What if it not wine? See, the Romans also used bottles to pee so...
19:50 December 9, 2011 by Kris Koln
It Lokks disgusting , In any restuarant , i would reject this .
20:22 December 9, 2011 by nedmesis
Italy's oldest food fraud.
20:49 December 9, 2011 by Loth
First its wine, then it turns to vinegar after time, then it turns to this globby looking stuff? Is it dead bacteria?
00:20 December 10, 2011 by cmorris
Why are they so scared. With technology the way it is, they should be able to extract some wine from the bottle somehow. Open it in a bowl, so if it breaks, the wine stays in the bowl. Sounds to me they really do not want to open the bottle.
15:08 December 10, 2011 by bugger
1st applicant here!

I am willing to test it!
00:36 December 21, 2011 by Drbio
I do not understand why a small sample is not removed using a syringe while maintaining its integrity?
Today's headlines
Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech
Chancellor Angela Merkel opens the 2014 Lindau meetings. Photo: DPA

Merkel targets 'shadow banks' in Lindau speech

Chancellor Angela Merkel has opened an economics conference in Lindau, Bavaria, with a call for more regulation of so-called shadow banks. READ  

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure
A senior couple walk down Delmenhorst's main pedestrian promenade, amid a string of empty shops. Photo: Tomas Urbina

Dying town centres seek the miracle cure

Home to two-thirds of Germany's population, many of its small cities and towns are struggling to revive their declining centres. The Local's Tomas Urbina reports from Delmenhorst in Lower Saxony, as it tries to dig its way out of the economic doldrums. READ  

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver
Signs warning drivers against entering a motorway off-road. Photo: DPA

Quick-thinking trucker stops wrong-way driver

Erich Mairleitner thought Tuesday would be another ordinary day hauling a load along the A3 motorway, but found himself the hero of the hour after stepping in to stop an accident. READ  

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds
Usula van der Leyen and Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Germany ready to send arms to Iraqi Kurds

Germany is ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against the "barbaric" jihadist militants of the Islamic State, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Wednesday. READ  

The Local List
10 things to do before summer is really over
Photo: DPA

10 things to do before summer is really over

The German weather service (DWD) is blaming "Wild Wilma" for blanketing the country in cooler temperatures, but we know it's going to get a lot colder before the end of summer. This week's Local List challenges you to take advantage before autumn really sets in. READ  

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors
Lightning illuminates the sky above a wind turbine. Photo: DPA

Energy policy falls foul of federal auditors

The Federal Court of Auditors (BRH) has sharply criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel's energy policy, saying that the previous coalition government failed to produce adequate financial plans. READ  

China orders German's execution for murders
A paramilitary guard stands inside Beijing's No.1 Detention Centre. Photo: DPA

China orders German's execution for murders

Update: A German man has been condemned to death in China for murdering his ex-girlfriend and her partner in a frenzied attack, it was reported on Wednesday. READ  

German aid planes to Iraq delayed
All filled up and nowhere to go. Photo: DPA

German aid planes to Iraq delayed

A German military flight to the conflict-addled region in northern Iraq has been delayed because Turkey denied landing permission for the layover at Incirlik airbase, according to a spokesman for the air force. READ  

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway
Photo: DPA

Bomb shuts down A3 motorway

A controlled detonation of a 500-kg bomb from the Second World War has left a 20-metre-wide crater in the middle of one of Germany's busiest traffic corridors on Tuesday night. READ  

Saxony schools get top marks
Photo: DPA

Saxony schools get top marks

A country-wide analysis has shown that Saxony has the best schools and Berlin has a lot of homework to do. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Culture
Sprechen Sie Deutsch? 10 reasons why you should.
Photo: DPA
National
Berlin's senate puts the brakes on Über
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The mysteries of Berlin's abandoned theme park
Photo: DPA
Culture
How I deal with my German Hausmeister
Photo: Ingrid Eulenfan/flickr
Gallery
Nine German treats you'll want to eat right now (and one you won't)
Photo: DPA
Society
Who's getting German citizenship?
Photo: DPA
Culture
How World War I changed Germany forever
Photo: APA/DPA
Gallery
The 12 best words in Austrian German
Photo: DPA
Society
'Look at those German shanty towns!'
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,322
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd