Ancient Wine Found That Could Help Fight Cancer

Canaanite-Wine-Cellar-Tel-Kabri

Last year, archaeologists discovered a huge hoard of storage vessels in a 6,000 square meter Bronze Age palace at Tel Kabri, located in what is now Israel. Known to be the largest wine cellar to ever be discovered, it is also the oldest known wine cellar within the known East, dating back to between 3,600 and 3,900 years. Now, a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE has revealed the results of an analysis conducted on residue found inside the jars, showing up the biomarkers of wine as well as a complex mixture of herbal additives. According to an article published in J Space News, ancient alcoholic beverages have shown potential in the fight against both lung and colon cancer.

The organic residue analysis using mass spectrometry revealed that the beverage included ingredients and additives such as honey, storax resin, terebinth resin, tartaric and syringic acid, cedar oil, cyperus, juniper, and possibly mint, myrtle, and cinnamon.

“This wasn’t moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements. This wine’s recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar,” said Brandeis University chemist Andrew Koh. The researchers suggest that humans at the time had a sophisticated understanding of plants and skills necessary to produce a complex beverage that balanced preservation, palatability, and psychoactivity.

From the moment the first alcoholic beverages were discovered, man has used it as a medicine. Apart from the stress relieving, relaxing nature that alcohol has on the body and mind, alcohol is an antiseptic and in higher doses has anesthetizing effects. But it is a combination of alcohol and natural botanicals, which creates a far more effective medicine and has been used as such for thousands of years. It is the origin of the most famous toast, “Let’s drink to health”, which exists in many languages around the world.

Wine-cellar-at-Tel-Kabri

Professor Patrick McGovern, Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project for Cuisine of the University of Pennsylvania Museum, has spent the last two decades researching how ancient alcoholic beverages can be used in the fight against modern day diseases such as cancer. His research has shown that these ancient alcohols show significant anti-cancer activity. In particular, Professor McGovern’s research has found that certain additives in these ancient alcoholic beverages have shown positive activity against lung and colon cancer, and his plan for the future is to test against lung cancer in animal models.

Through different fields of scientific endeavor coming together, the discovery of the wine vessels in Tel Kabri not only sheds light on ancient wine production and palatial social practices of the time, it also has the potential to aid in future medical practices.

Historicity of Jesus

Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are mythologized history telling of a controversial first century Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef who gathered a following that provided the seed that grew into Christianity.

At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.

For over 200 years, a wide ranging array of theologians and historians, most of them Christian, analyzed ancient texts, both those that made it into the Bible and those that didn’t, in attempts to excavate the man behind the myth. Several current or recent bestsellers take this approach, distilling the scholarship for a popular audience. Familiar titles include Zealot by Reza Aslan and How Jesus Became God by Bart Ehrman.

But other scholars believe that the gospel stories are actually “historicized mythology.” In this view, those ancient mythic templates are themselves the kernel. They got filled in with names, places and other real world details as early sects of Jesus worship attempted to understand and defend the devotional traditions they had received.

The notion that Jesus never existed is a minority position. For centuries all serious scholars of Christianity were Christians themselves, and modern secular scholars lean heavily on the groundwork that they laid in collecting, preserving, and analyzing ancient texts. Even today most secular scholars come out of a religious background, and many operate by default under historical presumptions of their former faith.

Academic arguments in support of the Jesus Myth theory can be found in the writings of Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Carrier, who has a Ph.D. in ancient history uses the tools of his trade to show, among other things, how Christianity might have gotten off the ground without a miracle. Price, by contrast, writes from the perspective of a theologian whose biblical scholarship ultimately formed the basis for his skepticism.

The arguments on both sides of this question, mythologized history or historicized mythology, fill volumes, and if anything the debate seems to be heating up rather than resolving. A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity. Since many people, both Christian and not, find it surprising that this debate even exists, that credible scholars might think Jesus never existed, here are some of the key points that keep the doubts alive:

1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef. In the words of Bart Ehrman: “What sorts of things do pagan authors from the time of Jesus have to say about him? Nothing. As odd as it may seem, there is no mention of Jesus at all by any of his pagan contemporaries. There are no birth records, no trial transcripts, no death certificates; there are no expressions of interest, no heated slanders, no passing references, nothing. In fact, if we broaden our field of concern to the years after his death, even if we include the entire first century of the Common Era, there is not so much as a solitary reference to Jesus in any non-Christian, non-Jewish source of any kind. I should stress that we do have a large number of documents from the time, the writings of poets, philosophers, historians, scientists, and government officials, for example, not to mention the large collection of surviving inscriptions on stone and private letters and legal documents on papyrus. In none of this vast array of surviving writings is Jesus’ name ever so much as mentioned.”

2. The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts.Paul seems unaware of any virgin birth, for example. No wise men, no star in the east, no miracles. Historians have long puzzled over the “Silence of Paul” on the most basic biographical facts and teachings of Jesus. Paul fails to cite Jesus’ authority precisely when it would make his case. What’s more, he never calls the twelve apostles Jesus’ disciples; in fact, he never says Jesus HAD disciples, or a ministry, or did miracles, or gave teachings. He virtually refuses to disclose any other biographical detail, and the few cryptic hints he offers aren’t just vague, but contradict the gospels. The leaders of the early Christian movement in Jerusalem like Peter and James are supposedly Jesus’ own followers and family; but Paul dismisses them as nobodies and repeatedly opposes them for not being true Christians.

Liberal theologian Marcus Borg suggests that people read the books of the New Testament in chronological order to see how early Christianity unfolded. “Placing the Gospels after Paul makes it clear that as written documents they are not the source of early Christianity but its product. The Gospels are the products of early Christian communities several decades after Jesus’ historical life and tell us how those communities saw his significance in their historical context.”

3. Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts. We now know that the four gospels were assigned the names of the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, not written by them. To make matters sketchier, the name designations happened sometime in second century, around 100 years or more after Christianity supposedly began. For a variety of reasons, the practice of pseudonymous writing was common at the time and many contemporary documents are “signed” by famous figures. The same is true of the New Testament epistles except for a handful of letters from Paul (6 out of 13) which are broadly thought to be genuine. But even the gospel stories don’t actually say, “I was there.” Rather, they claim the existence of other witnesses, a phenomenon familiar to anyone who has heard the phrase, my aunt knew someone who . . . .

4. The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other. If you think you know the Jesus story pretty well, I suggest that you pause at this point to test yourself with the 20 question quiz at ExChristian.net.

The gospel of Mark is thought to be the earliest existing “life of Jesus,” and linguistic analysis suggests that Luke and Matthew both simply reworked Mark and added their own corrections and new material. But they contradict each other and, to an even greater degree contradict the much later gospel of John, because they were written with different objectives for different audiences. The incompatible Easter stories offer one example of how much the stories disagree.

5. Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons. They include a cynic philosopher, charismatic Hasid, liberal Pharisee, conservative rabbi, Zealot revolutionary, nonviolent pacifist to borrow from a much longer list assembled by Price. In his words, “The historical Jesus (if there was one) might well have been a messianic king, or a progressive Pharisee, or a Galilean shaman, or a magus, or a Hellenistic sage. But he cannot very well have been all of them at the same time.” John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar grumbles that “the stunning diversity is an academic embarrassment.”

These issues and more lead to a conclusion that seems inescapable:

Jesus appears to be an effect, not a cause, of Christianity. Paul and the rest of the first generation of Christians searched the Septuagint translation of Hebrew scriptures to create a Mystery Faith for the Jews, complete with pagan rituals like a Lord’s Supper, Gnostic terms in his letters, and a personal savior god to rival those in their neighbors’ longstanding Egyptian, Persian, Hellenistic and Roman traditions.

In a soon-to-be-released book, entitled Jesus: Mything in Action, the author argues that the many competing versions proposed by secular scholars are just as problematic as any “Jesus of Faith.” Even if one accepts that there was a real Jesus of Nazareth, the question has little practical meaning. Regardless of whether or not a first century rabbi called Yeshua ben Yosef lived, the “historical Jesus” figures so patiently excavated and re-assembled by secular scholars are themselves fictions.

Sumerian Story of Creation

Sumer, or the ‘land of civilized kings’, flourished in Mesopotamia, now modern-day Iraq, around 4500 BC. Sumerians created an advanced civilization with its own system of elaborate language and writing, architecture and arts, astronomy and mathematics. Their religious system was a complex one comprised of hundreds of gods, rites and cosmology. According to the ancient texts, each Sumerian city was guarded by its own god; and while humans and gods used to live together, the humans were servants to the gods.

The Sumerian creation myth can be found on a tablet in Nippur, an ancient Mesopotamian city founded in approximately 5000 BC.

The creation of Earth (Enuma Elish) according to the Sumerian tablets begins like this:

When in the height heaven was not named,
And the earth beneath did not yet bear a name,
And the primeval Apsu, who begat them,
And chaos, Tiamut, the mother of them both
Their waters were mingled together,
And no field was formed, no marsh was to be seen;
When of the gods none had been called into being,
And none bore a name, and no destinies were ordained;
Then were created the gods in the midst of heaven,
Lahmu and Lahamu were called into being…

It is interesting here to note that no one god is responsible for creation, as even gods are themselves part of the creation.

Sumerian mythology claims that, in the beginning, human-like beings of extra-terrestrial origin ruled over Earth. Those beings, or gods, could travel through the sky in either round or rocket shaped vehicles. These beings toiled Earth’s soil, digging to make it habitable and mining its minerals.

The texts mention that at some point the gods mutinied against their labor.

When the gods like men

Bore the work and suffered the toll

The toil of the gods was great,

The work was heavy, the distress was much.

Anu, the god of gods, agreed that their labor was too great. His son Enki, or Ea, proposed to create man to bear the labor, and so, with the help of his half-sister Ninki, he did. A god was put to death, and his body and blood was mixed with clay. From that material the first human being was created, in likeness to the gods.

You have slaughtered a god together

With his personality

I have removed your heavy work

I have imposed your toil on man.

…
In the clay god and Man

Shall be bound,

To a unity brought together;

So that to the end of days

The Flesh and the Soul

Which in a god have ripened
That soul in a blood-kinship be bound.

It is interesting here to note that the spirit is connected to the body, as is the case in many other religions and myths.

This first man was created in Eden, a Sumerian word which means ‘flat terrain’. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, Eden is mentioned as the garden of the gods and is located somewhere in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Initially human beings were unable to reproduce on their own, but were later modified with the help of Enki and Ninki. Thus Adapa is created as a fully functional and independent human being. This ‘modification’ was done without the approval of Enki’s brother, Enlil, and a conflict between the gods begins. Enlil becomes the adversary of man, and the Sumerian tablet mentions that men served gods and went through much hardship and suffering.

Although not the exact creation story involving two trees in Eden, Adapa, with the help of Enki, ascends to Anu where he fails to answer a question about ‘the bread and water of life’. Opinions vary on the similarities between these two creation stories, but one thing remains clear: immortality is meant for gods, not for men.