Scientists analyzing the DNA from containers found in a 2,400-year-old Greek shipwreck have discovered some of the world's oldest wine and salad dressing.
The DNA was extracted from two transport jars known as amphora, which appeared empty but had actually absorbed their contents into their ceramic interiors. The first amphora is thought to have contained herb-infused olive oil, possibly preserved for so many years thanks to oregano's antioxidant properties. The DNA from the second amphora indicates that it either contained mastic, which is an aromatic resin, or pistachio nuts. Since the particular design of the amphora is associated with wine shipments, the researchers think the container likely held mastic-flavored wine.
According to researcher Brendan Foley, the success of this study suggests that archaeologists may be able to "figure out what was carried in almost every 'empty' jar we find in land excavations or shipwrecks." Or maybe even what was in that mysterious takeout container in the back of the fridge.