Over a dozen pits used to store ancient beer have been found by archaeologists in Tel Aviv. This archaeological find from approximately 5,000 years ago is reportedly the first evidence of an “Egyptian occupation” in the center of Israel, writes news site The Daily Star.
Many pottery pieces were located in 17 pits under a building site in Tel Aviv, Israel. The broken basins were used 5,000 years ago to make and store beer – an alcoholic brew with a long and widespread history dating back millennia.
Israeli Antiquities Authority excavation director Diego Barkan said that these basins would have been used to hold beer during the Early Bronze Age, from 3500 to 3000 BC.
Barkan said in a statement that “among the hundreds of pottery shards that characterize the local culture, a number of fragments of large ceramic basins were discovered that were made in an Egyptian tradition and were used to prepare beer. It was made from a mixture of barley and water that was partially baked and then left to ferment in the sun. Various fruit concentrates were added to this mixture in order to flavor the beer.”
Beer was a staple as important to the Egyptians as bread. It was consumed by all people, no matter their age, gender or societal status.
Researchers have suggested that it wasn’t just the altered state of awareness that the people would have enjoyed from drinking beer originally, but it was also nutritionally superior to other food in their diet, apart from animal proteins. According to Gloria Dawson, who examined the theory in a 2013 article for science magazine Nautilus, it is thought beer was safer to drink than water because the fermentation process killed pathogenic microorganisms. In fact, one of the earliest signs of the use of alcohol as a medicine dates back around 5,000 years to a jar found in the tomb of one of the first pharaohs of Egypt, Scorpion I.
Egyptian wooden model of beer making in ancient Egypt. Wikimedia Commons
In addition to the 17 pits filled with pottery fragments, archaeologists recovered large ceramic vessels, jars and pots contemporaneous with the beer basins, as well as a copper dagger and flint dating back 6,000 years ago.
A flint blade dating to 6,000 years ago, found at dig site in Tel Aviv, Israel. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority
It was clear to researchers that the vessels were made by Egyptians, and the crafting did not match other local traditions. Discovery News reports that the settlement remains are the northernmost evidence of an Egyptian presence in the area dating to the early Bronze Age.
Excavations of Egypt’s Nile Delta region have found that ancient breweries were producing beer or ale in the middle of the fourth century B.C.
News site Haaretz notes that the location in Tel Aviv has undergone two previous excavations – one in 1980 and one in 2008. Due to the most recent significant finds, the archaeological site will undoubtedly continue to be an area of interest for archaeologists, researchers and historians.
Featured Image: An Egyptian pottery fragment from the archeological site at Tel Aviv. Credit: Israel Antiquities Authority
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