Isolation and Characterization of Live Yeast Cells from a Mead Vessel

Tzemach Aouizerat, Itai Gutman, Yuval Gadot, Daniel Gelman, Amir Szitenberg, Elyashiv Drori, Ania Pinkus, Miriam Schoemann, Rachel Kaplan, Shunit Coppenhagen-Glazer, Oded Lipschits, Michael Klutstein, Ronen Hazan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this paper we present the results of the isolation and characterization of yeast samples from mead storage jars excavated from the Ramat Raḥel Babylonian-Persian Pit.1 We identified the yeast by sequence analysis as Hyphopichia burtonii—a yeast that is also found in the contemporary yet traditional beverage, tej, an Ethiopian mead. We grew it in wort similar to the modern beer yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and produced a potable and tasty mead and beer.Based on the hypothesis that yeast has the potential to survive for long periods of time within the nano-pores of clay vessels, we tested the possibility of isolating live yeast from vessels that had previously contained fermented liquids. We were successful in isolating and characterizing two strains of yeast from vessels excavated from the pit. We extracted the first strain from a typical Early Persian period Judean storage jar (Table 11.1:1; Figs. 4.17:2, 4.18:2, 4.19:7). According to previous organic residue analyses (Chapter 10), such vessels contained mead (honey wine; Lipschits et al. 2017: 107−108). We isolated the second strain from an oil lamp found in the same context (Table 11.1:38; Fig. 4.10:5).Our interest in this project was part of our broader research into finding a new method to isolate live microorganisms from ancient vessels (Aouizerat et al. 2019)
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationRamat Raḥel VI
Subtitle of host publication The Renewed Excavations by the Tel Aviv–Heidelberg Expedition (2005–2010), The Babylonian-Persian Pit
Place of PublicationUniversity Park, USA
PublisherPenn State University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781646021789
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameMonograph Series of the Sonia and Marco Nadler Institute of Archaeology
PublisherPenn State University Press


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