The Roman jar is a metre tall and is hermetically sealed. / E.C.
During the Roman era, two thousand years ago, wine, raisins, honey and silk which were produced on the coast of Malaga province were regularly exported to Rome where they were much prized as great delicacies.
Not surprisingly there have many findings of the ancient vessels used to transport the goods. What is much more unusual is the discovery of a vase, still filled with its original liquid and hermetically sealed with cork, resin and whitewash in the Roman fashion.
The vase or amphora was actually discovered during archaeological excavations in the mouth of Vélez-Málaga river in 1960. Then the large object, which is a metre tall, lay forgotten in the dusty basement of the Palacio de Beniel.
Until now. In the process of cataloguing items for Vélez-Málaga's new Museo de la Histotria de la Cuidad, the vase was rediscovered and brought to light.
Now, according to José Antonio Fortes, the local councillor in charge of culture, the town hall want to verify its contents (25 to 30 litres of liquid) for once and for all. It has long been assumed, from the precise shape of the jar (which has a wider neck than those commonly used to transport olive oil) that it contains wine. Fortes plans to contact the Malaga wine standards board or a specialist laboratory in order to determine exactly what is in the precious amphora. "With this kind of seal, the contents ought to be in perfect condition and we'd like to know what kind of wine was made in the first century - was it similar to the sweet Malaga wine of today?"