Beer Archaeology: Human History Through Beer Goggles

Beer Archaeology: Human History Through Beer Goggles

Anjali Prasertong
Jul 21, 2011

Did you know the workers who built the pyramids were given a daily ration of of four to five liters of beer, or that the oldest wine found in France may actually have come from Italy?

According to Dr. Patrick McGovern, an archaeologist specializing in ancient beer and wine, alcohol helped make us human. An article in the August issue of Smithsonian Magazine explains how.

It's possible that humans initially began domesticating crops for fermented beverages rather than food, which would mean it was drink that drove people to set up permanent settlements. Perhaps more significantly, alcoholic drinks may have changed our outlook on the world. According to Dr. McGovern:

"Fermented beverages are at the center of religions all around the world. [Alcohol] makes us who we are in a lot of ways." He contends that the altered state of mind that comes with intoxication could have helped fuel cave drawings, shamanistic medicine, dance rituals and other advancements.

The article is a fascinating, in-depth look at how beer and wine shaped early human history. We're also intrigued by the mention of Dogfish Head's Midas Touch beer, which uses a recipe based on remains found in King Midas's 700 B.C. tomb.

Read the article: The Beer Archaeologist at Smithsonian Magazine

Related: Summer Ales & Winter Lagers: Why Are Beers Seasonal?

(Image: Flickr member mccun934 licensed under Creative Commons)

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