Pennsylvania archaeologist recreates ancient brew

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Patrick McGovern had just emerged from the ancient burial chamber in one of the most extensively excavated archaeological sites in China when a local scientist presented him with what he calls "the real treasure."

It was a sealed bronze drinking vessel that resembled a teapot from 1200 B.C.

With liquid still inside.

"I just about dropped over - a liquid sample from 3,000 years ago," said McGovern, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania.

He whisked a sample back to his lab in the basement of Penn's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. An analysis confirmed what he had suspected: a yellowish wine.

It was another eureka moment for McGovern, 64, who has spent the last two decades traversing the globe, from ancient capitals to remote villages, in a quest to uncover the secrets of ancient wine- and beer-making.

He has become internationally recognized as an authority on ancient potables. When he and other museum researchers were on the budget chopping block earlier this year, nearly 4,000 supporters signed a petition, among them archaeologists, curators, and government officials from countries around the world. Egypt's director of antiquities was one of them.

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