• Germany's news in English
 

Museum scared to open ancient Roman wine

Published: 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)

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
Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record
Photo: DPA

Auschwitz expert slams Nazi justice record

Oskar Gröning, 93, a former Nazi known as the "bookkeeper of Auschwitz", goes on trial in Germany on Tuesday in what could be the last Nazi war crimes trial while an expert calls the country's judicial record 'miserable'. READ  

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots
Photo: DPA

Turkish Airlines: married pilots are safer pilots

The general manager of Turkish Airlines has urged single pilots to marry, after the Germanwings tragedy blamed on a pilot with psychological problems. READ  

Germany and Greece
'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'
Thanasis Glavinas outside one of the German parliament's buildings. Photo: Private

'It hurts when Germans call Greece a failed state'

With the war of words – and cashflows – between Greece and Germany showing no sign of dying down, The Local meets one young Greek who's come to see what the Germans have to teach about running a country successfully. READ  

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations
'Loitz doesn't need any asylum seekers' reads the graffiti. Photo:DPA

Interior Minister wants quicker deportations

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière called on Friday for state governments to speed up deportations of failed asylum applicants, in the latest round in a war of words between the federal government and the states. READ  

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours
Photo: DPA

VW CEO survives despite departure rumours

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has dodged a broadside from company chairman Ferdinand Piech which many thought would unseat him from the troubled car maker. Instead, the steering committee has offered him an extension to his contract. READ  

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola
Tension on the touchline: Guardiola, Schweinsteiger and Müller-Wohlfahrt Photo: DPA

Bayern doctor quits in spat with Guardiola

The resignation of iconic club doctor Hans-Willhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt on Thursday evening threatens to unleash internal chaos at Bayern Munich after their Champions League humiliation at the hands of FC Porto. READ  

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline
An InterCity train in Hannover's main train station. Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bahn flirts with drivers' strike deadline

Rail operator Deutsche Bahn has until 3 pm on Friday to respond to demands from the Train Drivers' Union (GDL) for a "reasonable provisional result" in talks over pay, conditions and union representation. READ  

Liberals: Data retention unconstitutional
Deputy leader of the Free Democratic Party Wolfgang Kubicki. Photo:DPA

Liberals: Data retention unconstitutional

The deputy leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), Wolfgang Kubicki, called the government's plans to store communications data 'unconstitutional' and said he will fight the proposals in court. READ  

Germany honours Warsaw Uprising fighters
Leszek Zukowski (c) participated in the Warsaw uprising. Photo:DPA

Germany honours Warsaw Uprising fighters

Germany on Thursday awarded its highest honour for the first time to Poles who fought the occupying Nazis in the ill-fated Warsaw Uprising of 1944, one of World War II's bloodiest episodes. READ  

Police grab 'Turkish Communists' in raids
A special police intervention unit (SEK) training in Thuringia. File photo: DPA

Police grab 'Turkish Communists' in raids

State prosecutors in Karlsruhe said on Thursday that police had captured seven members of the Turkish Communist Party (TKP) in raids across southern and western Germany. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
VIDEO: Mario Draghi suffers anti-ECB confetti attack
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
Germanwings co-pilot 'searched suicide info'
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
LIVE: Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
National
Last-minute drama of Germany's Eurovision 2015 entry
National
German photographer takes world's top prize
Features
Meet the woman getting Germans to drink more – and better – beer
Gallery
Get inspired for International Women's Day with German heroes
Green party proposes first-ever cannabis legalization plan
Gallery
In pictures: Germany's seven most livable cities
National
Singapore canes Germans for train graffiti
Politics
Surprise! Germans love feeling like they run the EU
Politics
Anger over plan to show women what men earn
Travel
Munich tram fans bicker over new bell
Features
Kafka: puzzling translators 100 years on
Business & Money
France or Germany: Which country really is the best country to work in?
Photo: Police
Rhineland
Student driver crashes tank into family garden.
Photo: DPA
Politics
There was a notable absence at the Anti-Semitism Commission
National
How Dresden bombing still divides Germany, 70 years on
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Take a cute break with this gallery of baby animals
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

7,184
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd