Mankind has been drinking alcohol for several millennia. Anthropologists believe that alcohol could serve as the main reason for the transition of an ancient man from hunting and gathering to agriculture.
Regardless of whether it is a form of social interaction, a medical drug or a political way of making connections, alcohol has been and continues to be one of the most important products consumed by a person, regardless of culture or nationality.
Archaeologists still find evidence of the development of the production of alcoholic beverages, the age of which relates us to antiquity.
The oldest alcohol in the world
Recently in China, archaeologists have discovered the world’s oldest evidence of human consumption of alcohol. The chemical analysis of the broken ceramic vessels showed that the Chinese used alcohol as early as 7000 BC. The studied vessels indicate a drink similar to that cooked from rice, honey and fruit.
On the ceramic tableware Jihua (Jihua) were found traces of the presence of tartrates – a class of chemicals associated with grapes and hawthorn. Honey, grapes and hawthorn could be the basis for the drink, which was cooked with the addition of sugar and yeast, necessary for its fermentation.
Since Jihua is the place where the oldest ceramic pottery found in China was found, the tradition of preparing alcoholic beverages seems to go back to an even earlier period. However, leather and wooden containers, in which, perhaps, once stored the ancient booze, could not survive to this day.
Wines of the King of Scorpions
In the dark depths of the tomb of the pharaoh Scorpio I archaeologists discovered the oldest Egyptian wine. Binge, whose age is 5000 years old, was infused with natural medicines. As part of the ancient alcohol, the researchers found wood tar and grass, such as coriander, sage and mint.
Some additives were used to flavor, but many of them had healing properties. Alcohol destroys plant alkaloids and provides an effective system for the delivery of natural medicines. Archaeologists know that in ancient Egypt, prepared medicinal potions, from the discovered papyrus, dating from 1850 BC. These wines push this date back thousands of years ago.
The wines of Pharaoh Scorpio I are so old that they precede the appearance of Egyptian vineyards. They were brought from the valley of the Jordan River. Medicinal medicines are not unique to Egypt. There is also evidence that the ancient Chinese practiced the preparation of such drinks for therapeutic purposes.
Archaeologists, studying the bones of ancient Nubians, made a shocking discovery: the skeletal remains of ancient people were impregnated with tetracycline. Scientists believe that the Nubians took this ancient antibiotic through beer.
According to the scientific theory, the grain was infected with bacteria streptomycetes, producing tetracycline. Ancient Nubians stored malt grains in dirty vessels, and streptomycete is a soil bacterium that, in an arid climate, feels favorably ubiquitous.
More than 90% of the human remains are tetracycline. Even two-year-old children had an antibiotic in their bone system. The ancient Nubians lived along the Nile River south of Egypt on the territory of modern Sudan. It is possible that they have adopted the tradition of medicinal brewing from their northern neighbors. Tetracycline beer seems to have been an excellent preventive measure against bone disease, since all the remains of ancient Nubians had no traces of infection with any infection.
Parties before the Incas
In 2004, a research group from the Field Museum of Chicago, Illinois, USA, discovered an ancient brewery in the highlands of southern Peru. Members of the pre-Uyk culture elite Wari (Wari) cooked corn beer, known as “chica” (chica), on a mass scale over 1000 years ago.
Based on several production barrels (each volume of 57 liters) found on the territory of the ancient brewery, scientists believe that the people of Wari may have been able to produce thousands of liters of drink per day.
The brewery was discovered during excavations at Cerro Baul. Located at an altitude of 3219 meters above sea level, this place was inhabited by about 2000 people. Experts believe that the use of chiki was an effective tool in the policy of Huari. Officials from remote regions of the empire were invited by the residents of Cerro-Baul to take part in mass drinking ceremonies. Perhaps, the chika was a powerful enough means, uniting different cultures that did not have a common language.
Teotihuacan nutritional supplement
Archaeologists have discovered signs of a milk alcoholic drink on ancient shards in Teotihuacan (Mexico). Scientists believe that the drink provided the necessary vitamins and minerals to the inhabitants of one of the largest settlements in the prehistory. The inhabitants of the ancient Mexican city often experienced a shortage of basic food.
Wall painting, discovered in Teotihuacan, depicts the inhabitants of the city who drink pulque, a milk alcoholic drink made from agave juice. Tequila is also made from agave, however, unlike pulque, it is made from the fried core of agave.
Possessing an area of almost 21 km² and a population of 100,000 people, Teotihuacan was the largest city of pre-Columbian America. The main crop, cultivated by its inhabitants, was corn. However, a limited amount of groundwater and a small amount of rainfall made the cultivation of this crop extremely difficult. Moreover, corn contains a small amount of vital nutrients. Agave also withstands drought and cold much better than corn. Pulkas, which were prepared from agave, could provide residents of Teotihuacan with nutrients such as iron, calcium, B vitamins and bacteria that have probiotic properties.
In 1992, during the archaeological excavations at the site of the ancient Sumerian trading post Godin Tepe (Godin Tepe) in the mountains of Zagros (Zagros Mountains) (the territory of modern Iran), beer was discovered, dating from 3500 BC.
The content of calcium oxalate suggests that it was beer, which was brewed from barley. In the vessels found nearby, this grain was also found. The large number of vessels for storing the drink gives reason to assume that Godin-Tepe was once a prosperous trading city and a military outpost located on the route, which later became the “Silk Road”.
The Sumerians were among the first people on the planet who managed to create a mixed, educated society financed by trade and irrigation farming. Beer was their favorite drink.
The Sumerian works of art often depict scenes of meals with large bowls filled with beer around which people are sitting, using it through long straws. The Sumerian pictogram denoting beer is one of the most common among those found in the ruins of the Sumerian culture period.
The oldest European wine
In 2013 in Greece, a group of archaeologists discovered the oldest alcoholic drink in Europe. The 6200-year-old wine sediment was found on ceramic pottery, which was found on the site of a prehistoric settlement called Dikili Tash. Chemical analysis of ceramic dishes revealed traces of tartaric acid, which is a by-product of fermentation. Previously, the most ancient wine, known to scientists, was considered to be the drink that was made in Armenia and whose age is 6100 years.
About the residents of the settlement of Dikili Tash little is known. Only during the last excavation the scientists were able to reach the deepest archaeological layers of the settlement. At present, researchers do not know how important alcoholic drink played in the formation of this prehistoric society.
The same group of researchers who discovered the ancient wine sediment, perhaps, also found an even more ancient confirmation of the existence of ancient winemaking. During the excavation of a burnt house belonging to the Neolithic period, dating from 4500 BC, they discovered charred grape bones with skin, which is a sure sign of pressing the grapes.
Recently archaeologists have discovered 3,500-year-old remains of a Scandinavian woman, who was buried together with a bronze filter for cleaning alcohol. The chemical analysis of the find showed that the ancient drink was prepared from such ingredients as barley, honey, cranberries, greens and wine, which was imported from the south.
Even earlier studies of ancient Scandinavian vessels for beverages revealed the presence of pollen, and this gave scientists reason to assume that the ancient Scandinavians drank mead. However, until recently they did not know the ingredients of this drink.
This discovery prompted scientists to analyze more ancient Scandinavian artifacts using the latest technology. As a result of research, they discovered the oldest sign of the presence of alcohol in a pitcher in the grave of one warrior. In the pitcher were found only traces of honey, suggesting that once it was the purest mead.
In the 1920s, fragments of the remains of an ancient priestess were discovered near the village of Egtved, Denmark, which they christened as “the girl from Egtved” (“Egtved Girl”). At her feet lay a pitcher from under the grog. Wine dishes imported from the southern part of Europe were almost always found only in women’s graves. Scientists suggest that this indicates that the ancient Scandinavians were engaged in the production of wine by women.
Iron Age Drink
At the burial site of the ancient Swabians, scientists discovered a bronze cauldron, in which were the remains of a drink, the age of which is 2500 years. In the vessel once there were 14 liters of a drink intended for the underworld.
Archaeologists suspect that it was used in such a way that the dead could strengthen their reputation as important persons, appearing after death before the gods. Conducted analyzes of the iron age drink showed that it consisted of barley, yeast, honey, tivolga and mint.
Near the boiler, no human remains were found. Researchers believe that acidic soil probably dissolved all organic material. The iron sword in the grave, the helmet and two iron spears suggest that it belonged to a warrior with a considerable prestige and high status.
Studies of this ancient drink continued at the Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, where the master brewer helped restore the recipe. The resulting mixture had an approximately 8% strength and to taste resembled dry port. Unfortunately, the taste of this drink was not very suitable for its commercial mass production.
Canaan Wine Cellar
The oldest known wine cellar in the Middle East is located in the territory of modern Israel. Inside there are 40 massive ceramic jars for storing alcoholic drinks. In a cellar measuring almost 5 to 8 meters, you could store up to 1900 liters of wine.
Researchers believe that these ancient vintage wines looked little like their modern counterparts. Many of them are preserved, and scientists know that they were prepared with the addition of resins and herbs, such as mint, myrtle and juniper. To taste, the drink resembled a Greek recipe (resin white wine) with the addition of cough syrup.
An ancient wine cellar was discovered in Tel Kabri in the north of Israel. Dating from 1700 BC, the ruined palace occupied Canaan, who once controlled the territory of present-day Israel and Lebanon.
Ancient texts hint at the presence of spicy, herbal wines, but until now no one could find them. A powerful earthquake destroyed Tel Cabri around 1600 BC, as a result of which the cellar was destroyed, for thousands of years buried all the contents under its ruins.