Egyptians Were Drinking Beer 5800 Years Ago, New Discovery Finds

by Jonathan Howard

Ah, beer. One of the greatest inventions in the history of the world has been around since the ancient Egyptians 5800 years ago.

That’s right, new research from archaeologists shows that beer has been around for the last 6000 years or so. At least. With a research team led by Professor Jiajing Wang out of Dartmouth University, a new discovery has been made. The findings show that the drink wasn’t just a recreational substance but also one used in rituals.

So, here’s how they did it. The team took fragments of pottery that they found at a dig site in southern Egypt. This was one of the largest centers of civilization before the unification of the region as the Egyptian state. Just a bunch of communities in and around the Nile doing their own thing.

These fragments were dated to about 3800 BC. The ruler at the time? Pharaoh Narmer. He is considered by many historians to be the first pharaoh of Egypt. His rule marks a big lace in history and now perhaps a bigger place in the historical record due to the beer discovery.

During their research, the Egyptian researchers found that the beer was being used at a cemetery nearby. This is where they get the idea that this was a ritual beverage as much as it was a regular part of everyday life. Sounds like beer today.

Ancient Beer Not What You Think

When you think of ancient beer maybe you think of a pure and natural drink. Maybe you think of Budweiser but slightly different. Well, how about this? According to the evidence from the residue analysis on the pottery, this beer was very different from modern standards.

Not only was it lower in alcohol content (how do you get below 4.5%?), but the beer was likely a thick and cloudy liquid. It would have a consistency of oatmeal or porridge rather than the liquid old we know it as today.

“The beer was probably like a thick porridge,” Wang said to Daily Mail. “Very different from the IPAs we drink today. Beer was likely a staple food consumed by everyone and, and the same time, it was also ritually consumed on special occasions.”

Ancient Egyptian Breweries Found

There has been a lot of evidence in recent years of Egyptian beer making. While the ancients were not making PBR, they did have an important task at hand. There have been a number of breweries found in excavation sites and that has given researchers information about what role they played in society.

Apparently, beer-making was a specialized job. It was important if everyone was consuming beer. In fact, the low alcohol drink might have played a major role in the development of Egyptian society. Is anyone else thirsty right now?