Party Night in Canaan Land

On a dig this past summer in northern Israel, archeologists struck wine.

The remains of what has been confirmed as wine residue was discovered in a large room that contained the equivalent of 3,000 bottles of red and white wine. The site, Tel Kabri as it was known in the ancient Ugaritic language of 1700 B.C., loosely translates to “Studio 54”. The archeologists believe that the room, part of a banquet hall complex, is just one of several such wine rooms yet to be excavated at the site. This part of the eastern Mediterranean was known as Canaan during the Middle Bronze Age.

Chemical analysis of the residue found in the clay vessels indicated significant traces of the organic tartaric acid common to all wine, including red, white and Boone’s Farm Apple.

According to Eric Kline, co-director of the Tel Kabri excavations, the sheer quantity of the wine and the fact that it dates back almost 4,000 years make the discovery highly significant. “Wine of this vintage is very hard to come by,” said Mr. Kline, “Aged this long in sub-par conditions, we often find such wine to feel a bit furry on the palette, leaving a bitter tannic finish. The legs tend to be weak and misshapen and the nose, while still robust, usually reeks of penicillin mold.”

Sounds scrumptious.

Mr. Kline also allowed as how the Canaanites must have been enthusiastic imbibers given the quantity of wine in just this one room.

The wines from this period of history are very similar to the retsina wine currently produced in Greece. For those unfamiliar with retsina wine, it has a bouquet that mimics gasoline, but–and I found this surprising–it tastes much more like paint thinner. Also, retsina is more flammable than MD 20/20 or Sterno, products that are favored by the more cost-conscience oenophile.

Along with the wine vessels, archeologists found several clay tablets that are apparently the transcript of a speech made during a banquet in the complex.  I have, using my incredible journalistic and research skills, obtained an English translation of this presentation. Even though nearly 4,000 years have elapsed, post banquet speeches of the Middle Bronze Age have the ring of familiarity.


Annual Tribute Dinner and Wine Awards Transcript

Speaker: Sumu-abum the Amorite

Welcome bars and grills. Just kidding. Just kidding.

My name is Sumu-abum the Amorite but please call me Sumu, just don’t call me late for dinner. Just kidding. I’m a kidder.

It’s my pleasure to serve as host for this year’s banquet and wine award presentations. I think we can all agree that the roast baby goat, accompanied by the caramelized dates and figs with the drizzle of reduced camel drool, was simply excellent. The food, so nicely paired with the various wines, which were graciously provided by Rib-Hadda, Governor of Gubla and his lovely wife Tiffani, makes this banquet one that sets a high standard for years to come. Let’s drink to that. Here, here.

I want to send a special shout out to Abdi-Ashirta, Prince of Amurru, for the terrific collection of virgins that he brought to the celebration. Those of you who want some of that action please sign up with my slave, Bob of Assyria. Given the demand and limited number of virgins it will be first come, firsh served, if you get my drift. Sign up late and the “virgin” part of the deal may be kaput. I’ve already got my name at the top of Bob’s sign-up sheep…I meant sign-up sheet. Jush kidding…..not. Let’s down a couple for the virgins. Drink up.

Of coursh these anal…oops, these annual events just wouldn’t be complete without the opening sacrifice to Bubba Hotep, the god of grapes. This year’s nearly bloodless offering was perforated…..oops, was performed by my old buddy Aziru, a chip off of the old Abdi-Ashirta block. Aziru has brought the act of carroting….sorry, act of garroting to a level that can only be deshcribed as art. Y’all remember Art. Jush kidding. I’m a kidder. Anyway,  his method of sacrifice makes the after-ceremony clean-up is a shnap and the screams of the sacrificee are compassionately cut short. The brief shtruggle also offered some internment….I mean, entertainment to kick off the evening. A drink to Aziru. I luv u man. No, really, I luv u. Bottomshup.

And now for the wine edwards…sorry, wine awards for thish year’s featured appillition…appllutation…appellation, the wines of 1,705 B.C., better known around Canaan as the Year of the Boils. I raise my glass in a toast to the 1,700 B.C. edwards….no, no, a toast to the awards.

Third prick…sorry, sorry about that ladies, third prize goes to a red wine,” Ashteroth Estates” produshed by Zimrida the Hittite.  For his efforts, Zim gets thish lovely medal made of precious rock. Serioushly, Zimrida, I was pimpin’ your wine for firsh place. I luv u, buddy. Throw another down your throats for goo’ ‘ol Zim.

Second price….damn, I mean second prize and thish beautifool medal made of tin goes to Tubby the Ammonite and his marital, no….marshall, no….meritage blend. That’s it, meritage. The wine is labeled “Loaded Moses”. Good blending, Tubby. I luv u and I luv your marni…merli…mornal…your blended wine. Salute!….no, make that saliva!…no, no, no…salud! Forgive me ladies and germs, I can’t read shome of my notes.

And finally, the ground prize…oh crap…the grand prize goes to Shalmanezer the Philishtine and his refreshing peanut….that is, his refreshing pinot noir, “Mogen from the House of David”. Pershonally, I thought thish wine was a bit lame but, hey, I’m not on the judging penal….I mean juggling panel…no, that’s jiggling penile…well, crap on a cracker! I don’t vote, I jush drink. Shal and his sisshy wine get the converted….the coverted…..he gets the highly-sought-after bronze medal. Raise your glasses to Shal-the-man.

Well, that concludes tonight’s feshtivities. Goo’night everbody and travel shafely. Better yet, have shome shlaves carry you home. I know that I will. Jush kidding. I’m fine. I’m fine.


It’s somehow comforting to realize that, although separated by nearly four millennia, the human experience then, as today, can be wrapped up with the old saw: Been there, done that.


Observoid of the Day: Tomatoes are a fruit, thus making ketchup a smoothie.

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