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Short-chain carboxylic acids including succinic, fumaric, malic and at times tartaric acid were identified in 20 vessels and suggest the presence of fruit products. Grape wine consumed at Vix-Mont Lassois was probably imported from the Mediterranean area since the scant evidence of grape pips does not support the exploitation of the local wild vine. Unlike Mediterranean contexts, there is no evidence for winemaking e. These biomarkers have previously been associated with the fermentation of alcoholic beverages other than wine [ 48 ] S3 Text , but they also occur in other substances such as bitumen [ 49 ].

Their presence at Vix-Mont Lassois was associated with a specific vessel techno-typology, and they were only identified in lipid extracts taken from the interior surface of vessels, while none were found in the corresponding exterior surfaces and sediment controls see associated control samples in S3 Text.

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Gin-For's Odditiques

Our association of hopanoids with fermented beverages rather than bitumen or even plankton is supported by i bacteriohopanoids were detected mostly in fine ceramics absent in coarse vessels whose shape indicates liquid consumption and which have consequently been attributed drinking and serving functions, ii most of the bacteriohopanoid identifications were made in vessels recovered from the plateau area, which archaeological data associates with elite feasting practices and tableware and iii use-wear analysis demonstrated pitting as a result of fermentation processes on the inner surface of experimental vessels [ 50 ], and similar evidence for pitting was observed on the neck of specific local handmade bottle-shaped vessels Fig 6 in which bacteriohopanoids were also identified.

The more plausible interpretation is the production of beer from millet or barley, for which large quantities of botanical evidence was found on the plateau context at Vix-Mont Lassois[ 38 ]. B selected mass spectra and structural information for hopanes C29—C A detailed description of the analytical results and interpretations are provided in S3 Text , and these are further contextualised in S1 — S5 Tables. The ceramic assemblage selected from the plateau context comprises most of the fine ware shapes tested and allows for a comparative study of imported and locally produced wheel-made and handmade vessels Fig 7.

Attic sherds are only present in this context.


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Results for the rampart areas allow a contemporaneous comparison. They are associated with a liquid or semi-liquid content. Conversely, bacteriohopanoid markers were identified in all 5 Attic amphorae tested and in 3 of the 5 Attic kraters. Furthermore, grape wine probably Mediterranean was identified in 2 of the Attic amphorae and 2 of the Attic kraters, but absent in the local fine high forms from the plateau.


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Two hypotheses can be put forward, i the preparation and storage of cured products, and ii the preparation of fermented beverages, especially beer [ 50 ]. Plant wax could have pertained to the original fermented plant-product. Although no specific cereal molecular markers were identified, the large quantities of barley seeds recovered from the same contexts [ 38 ] supports barley beer production. Most notable is the quasi absence of wine signatures in the low forms of the Attic and local fine wares from the plateau and rampart areas; only 2 bowls—both local and from the rampart area—tested positively for wine.

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In addition to the challenges surrounding preservation and multiple reuses of these low forms, it is possible that perishable or recycled metal containers may also have been used to drink wine. However, the 5 Attic bowls from the plateau contained bacteriohopanoid products, 4 of which also contained Pinaceae resin. This indicates a specific function dedicated to the consumption of possibly a cereal-based fermented beverage s.

On the plateau, plant oil was identified in 1 of the Attic bowls, in 2 local bottle-shaped miniatures as well as in the Massaliotic bowl and in 1 local bowl as a single substance. The presence of porcine and ruminant adipose fats in 2 bowls could suggest the consumption of meat, sauce or soup. Bacteriohopanoid beverages were absent except in one semi-fine to coarse ware while beeswax, animal fats, plant wax and millet were consistently identified, which suggests that they were important food products.

These results, as well as the presence of wine in the Attic amphorae and kraters, further corroborate the proposed function of the tested imported pottery from this context as drinking vessels containing primarily alcoholic drinks.

Object Identification

This points to the importance of the various alcoholic beverages for EIA individuals living on the plateau—most of them probably with high status positions [ 51 ]. This is supported by the high quality of the vessels, which further points to social specialisation. Most surprising is the presence of wine in local vessels, as this is so far the only evidence for wine in locally produced pottery at Vix-Mont Lassois during Hallstatt D2-D3. The location of Les Renards is significant because it lies close to the Seine River and the communication route on the way to the plateau, making it a perfect place for storing and processing imported food and drink, while the absence of bacteriohopanoid markers from this area seems to indicate that there was no production of such fermented beverages.

Consumption practices seem to be linked to space Fig 8 rather than the techno-typology of the vessels—except for the consumption of bacteriohopanoid beverage s , which are prevalent in fine ceramics. The presence of miliacin in 2 large coarse pots as a single content could indicate storage of millet by-product s. The fine wares recovered from the external settlement of Le Breuil are typologically similar to the locally produced wheel-turned and handmade vessels from the plateau.

However, their organic contents vary significantly. Of interest is the presence of wine in 4 of 5 fine handmade bowls and in 1 wheel-made bottle.

The Weight

The presence of ruminant adipose fat in 1 of the bottles is also surprising as it is an unusual content for this vessel type. In contrast, bacteriohopanoid beverages and plant oil are entirely absent from Le Breuil. The identification of fermented beverages at Vix-Mont Lassois underlines the importance of alcoholic beverages in Early Celtic society. The results shed new light on Early Celtic drinking practices and the production of these beverages, as suggested by ORA and corrosion on the inside of the neck of large bottles.

In these contexts, alcoholic beverages had the potential to shape, enforce and transform identities within the society [ 52 ].


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  6. Drinking on the plateau most probably also included the consumption of grape wine from Mediterranean feasting vessels, which would indicate the appropriation of Mediterranean feasting practices to some extent and its limitation to a specific group of people within this society. Furthermore, the Mediterranean feasting vessels on the plateau were also used for the consumption of beer possibly made from barley and not limited to grape wine.

    Gin-For's Odditiques

    In contrast to possibly barley beer, millet beer was rarely consumed on the plateau. It could have been consumed by the craftspeople in this area or it could also have been stored here for later conspicuous consumption in other areas of the site e. If we hypothesise that the consumption of wine in the Celtic society at Vix-Mont Lassois was accessible to all, and not restricted to Attic imports in the elite context of the plateau, it is the act and place of consumption, not wine as a substance, that might have influenced the formation and identification of social groups, and their status within local society.

    The high quantities of beeswax identified in the pottery highlights the importance of this resource and suggests a strong local management of beehives and maybe even bee domestication. Even if the function of the beeswax identified in the local vessels is still difficult to interpret, there is no doubt that beehive products played a crucial role in drinking practices—irrespective of whether it was consumed as flavouring agent, sweetener or whether it was used as a sealant to waterproof vessels as has previously been identified in Mediterranean protohistoric contexts [ 34 ].

    The use of beehive products is remarkably evident in the fine low forms, especially the wheel-made bowls in which beeswax was almost always detected. The absence of beeswax in imported drinking and serving vessels confirms its local specificity. Similar functions were observed in local wheel-made and Mediterranean high shapes, i.

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    We could also identify a difference in the use of similar shapes depending on their origin: on the plateau, wine was only identified in Attic vessels whereas beeswax, birch-derived products and millet only in the local fine wares. Thus, we find an interesting continuity in the use of some of the vessel types associated with wine consumption in both the Mediterranean and the Northern Alpine region kraters, amphorae , while the Mediterranean wine drinking vessels cups, kylikes vessels acquired a new function demonstrating dynamics of intercultural encounter.

    List of samples including the analytical results and their interpretation arranged according to context. The results presented here were made possible by the excavation conducted within the context of PCR Vix et son environnement. We also thank Jelena Radosavljevic for her assistance in the design of the figures. We are grateful as well to Nolan Ferar for proofreading the article.