Moving along: It seems beer has been with us for a lot longer than many folks suspected. Excerpt:
A new study published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports suggests beer brewing practices existed in the Eastern Mediterranean over five millennia before the earliest known evidence, discovered in northern China. In an archaeological collaboration project between Stanford University in the United States, and University of Haifa, Israel, archeologists analyzed three stone mortars from a 13,000-year old Natufian burial cave site in Israel. Their analysis confirmed that these mortars were used for brewing of wheat/barley, as well as for food storage.
“Alcohol making and food storage were among the major technological innovations that eventually led to the development of civilizations in the world, and archaeological science is a powerful means to help reveal their origins and decode their contents,” said Li Liu, PhD, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford University, USA. “We are excited to have the opportunity to present our findings, which shed new light on a deeper history of human society.”
The earliest archaeological evidence for cereal-based beer brewing even before the advent of agriculture comes from the Natufians, semi-sedentary, foraging people, living in the Eastern Mediterranean between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic periods, following the last Ice Age. The Natufians at Raqefet Cave collected locally available plants, stored malted seeds, and made beer as a part of their rituals.
The only ritual I generally use beer for is the normal Friday night beer-and-pizza blowing off steam that is part of the normal routine at the Casa del Animal, wherever that Casa happens to be at the moment.
But it’s interesting to see how far back that highly enjoyable mug o’ suds goes. One suspects that today’s aficionados would have a hard time recognizing what those long-ago folks called beer, but that doesn’t mean it might not be enjoyable.
And, of course, as with other alcoholic beverages (like wine, another adult beverage with a long history), in those long-ago times many folks quaffed beer because it was safe to drink. That couldn’t always be said for the water.
Hell, it can’t be said for the water in plenty of places now. Were I for some unknown reason having a meal today in, say, Flint, Michigan, I think I’d rather have some of Alley-Oop’s beer than the local water.
So, here’s to the suds! May they long be with us.