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Alcohol for the Ancients: The Oldest Drinks in the World

Friday, November 25, 2016 8:09
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Alcohol for the Ancients: The Oldest Drinks in the World

Archaeological records related to ancient drinks are quite rare, but they take us to realms of ancient life which were hidden for a long time. With new technologies and chemical analysis, scientists are finally able to write a detailed story of ancient feasts, celebrations, and rituals during which people consumed alcoholic drinks.

It is unknown when the word ‘alcohol’ was used for the first time. It is also very difficult to find out how the first alcoholic drink was made and why people decided it was tasty. However, the oldest known alcoholic drink comes from around c. 7,000 – 6,500 BC, from the Chinese village Jiahu in the Henan province. Researchers discovered the drink was made of rice, grapes, honey, and hawthorn berries.

People in the Middle East started to make a barley beer at the same time. However, archaeological evidence of the oldest barley beer comes from circa 6,000 BC and was excavated in Georgia. As for wine, researchers discovered archaeological evidence of this drink from circa 7,000 BC while at a site that belonged to an ancient culture who once lived near the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

Drinking in the Middle East

In Egypt, the use of barley was quite common in the production of alcohol. This drink was the second most common source of liquid people consumed. (Water was the first.) It was so popular that even children drank it. There is evidence of beer production since the earliest days of the ancient Egyptian civilization. Moreover, in Egypt, as in Sumeria, alcohol was also used as medication.

An Egyptian funerary model of a bakery and brewery. – Reconstructing the story of humanity’s past


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