Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘beer’

On this day ten years ago…
via Bakers and Brewers from Meketre’s model bakery

Read Full Post »

Phys.org

UNM researchers document the first use of maize in Mesoamerica
Maize, an ancient food source, was first cultivated in the Maya lowlands around 6,500 years ago. Credit: UNM

Almost any grocery store is filled with products made from corn, also known as maize, in every aisle: fresh corn, canned corn, corn cereal, taco shells, tortilla chips, popcorn, corn sweeteners in hundreds of products, corn fillers in pet food, in soaps and cosmetics, and the list goes on.

Maize is perhaps the most important plant ever domesticated by people, topping 1 billion tonnes produced in 2019, double that of rice, according to University of New Mexico Anthropology professor Keith Prufer, Principle Investigator of a team that just released new research that sheds light on when people started eating maize.

Recently published research from his team in the journal Science Advancesreveals new information about when the now-ubiquitous maize became a key part of people’s diets. Until now, little was known about when humans living in the tropics of Central America first started eating corn. But the “unparalleled” discovery of remarkably well-preserved ancient human skeletons in Central American rock shelters has revealed when corn became a key part of people’s diet in the Americas.

“Today, much of the popularity of maize has to do with its high carbohydrate and protein value in animal feed and sugar content which makes it the preferred ingredient of many processed foods including sugary drinks. Traditionally it has also been used as fermented drink in Mesoamerica. Given its humble beginnings 9,000 years ago in Mexico, understanding how it came to be the most dominant plant in the world benefits from deciphering what attracted people to this crop to begin with. Our paper is the first direct measure of the adoption of maize as a dietary staple in humans,” Prufer observed.

Prufer said the international team of researchers led by UNM and University of California, Santa Barbara is investigating the earliest humans in Central America and how they adapted over time to new and changing environments, and how those changes have affected human life histories and societies.

UNM researchers document the first use of maize in Mesoamerica
Excavations were directed by UNM Professor Keith Prufer along with an international team of archaeologists, biologists, ecologists and geologists. Credit: UNM

“One of the key issues for understanding these changes from an is to know what the change from hunting and gathers pathways to the development of agriculture looked like, and the pace and tempo of innovative new subsistence strategies. Food production and agriculture were among most important cultural innovations in human history.

“Farming allowed us to live in larger groups, in the same location, and to develop permanent villages around food production. These changes ultimately led in the Maya area to the development of the Classic Period city states of the Maya between 3,000 and 1,000 years ago. However, until this study, we did not know when early Mesoamericans first became farmers, or how quickly they accepted the new cultigen maize as a stable of their diet. Certainly, they were very successful in their previous foraging, hunting, and horticultural pursuits before farming, so it is of considerable interest to understand the timing and underlying processes,” he said.

Radiocarbon dating of the skeletal samples shows the transition from pre-maize hunter-gatherer diets, where people consumed and animals, to the introduction and increasing reliance on the corn. Maize made up less than 30 percent of people’s diets in the area by 4,700 years ago, rising to 70 percent 700 years later.

Maize was domesticated from teosinte, a wild grass growing in the lower reaches of the Balsas River Valley of Central Mexico, around 9,000 years ago. There is evidence maize was first cultivated in the Maya lowlands around 6,500 years ago, at about the same time that it appears along the Pacific coast of Mexico. But there is no evidence that maize was a staple grain at that time.

The first use of corn may have been for an early form of liquor.

Credit: Keith Prufer and Douglas Kennett. Photo contributions by Brendan Culleton.

“We hypothesize that maize stalk juice just may have been the original use of early domesticated maize plants, at a time when the cobs and seeds were essentially too small to be of much dietary significance. Humans are really good at fermenting sugary liquids into alcoholic drinks. This changed as human selection of corn plants with larger and larger seeds coincided with genetic changes in the plants themselves, leading eventually to larger cobs, with more and larger seeds in more seed rows,” Prufer explained.

To determine the presence of maize in the diet of the ancient individuals, Prufer and his colleagues measured the carbon isotopes in the bones and teeth of 52 skeletons. The study involved the remains of male and female adults and children providing a wholistic sample of the population. The oldest remains date from between 9,600 and 8,600 years ago and continues to about 1,000 years ago

The analysis shows the oldest remains were people who ate wild plants, palms, fruits and nuts found in tropical forests and savannahs, along with meat from hunting terrestrial animals.

By 4,700 years ago, diets had become more diverse, with some individuals showing the first consumption of maize. The isotopic signature of two young nursing infants shows that their mothers were consuming substantial amounts of maize. The results show an increasing consumption of maize over the next millennium as the population transitioned to sedentary farming.

Prufer noted, “We can directly observe in isotopes of bone how maize became a staple grain in the early populations we are studying. We know that people had been experimenting with the wild ancestor of maize, teosintle, and with the earliest early for thousands of years, but it does not appear to have been a staple grain until about 4000 BP. After that, people never stopped eating corn, leading it to become perhaps the most important food crop in the Americas, and then in the world.”

Researchers document the first use of maize in Mesoamerica
Ancient maize cob from Barton Creek Cave. Credit: Jaime Awe

Excavations were directed by Prufer along with an international team of archaeologists, biologists, ecologists and geologists. Numerous UNM graduate and undergraduate students took part in the field research as well as collaborators with the protected area co-management team, a Belizean NGO the Ya’axche’ Conservation Trust.

Conditions weren’t easy for the excavation teams, Prufer noted: “We did five years of fieldwork in two very remote rock shelter sites in the Bladen Nature Reserve in the Maya Mountains of Belize, a vast wilderness area that is a two-day walk from the nearest road. To work in this area we had to camp with no electricity, running water, or even cell service for a month at a time each year.”

Analysis was conducted at Penn State University, UNM Center for Stable Isotopes, UCSB, and Exeter University in the UK. Prufer was the project director along with his colleague Doug Kennett from UCSB. The project was funded by the Alphawood Foundation and the National Science Foundation. The study was conducted by researchers from UNM, UCSB, Pennsylvania State University, University of Exeter, The US Army Central Identification Laboratory, University of Mississippi, Northern Arizona University, and the Ya’axche Conservation Trust in Belize.

Now that the research is published, the team will advance it to the next stage.

“New technologies allow us to look even deeper into molecular analysis through studies of ancient DNA and isotopic analysis of individual amino acids that are involved in turning food into building blocks of tissues and energy. We already have a Ph.D. students working on expanding our work to the next generation of analysis,” Prufer said.


Read Full Post »

On this day ten years ago…
via A Thousand Loaves of Bread

Read Full Post »

Grain cell changes from malting help identify which ancient populations crafted local brews

Microscopic signatures of malting could help reveal which prehistoric people had a taste for beer.

Ancient beer is difficult to trace, because many of beer’s chemical ingredients, like alcohol, don’t preserve well (SN: 9/28/04). But a new analysis of modern and ancient malted grain indicates that malting’s effects on grain cell structure can last millennia. This microscopic evidence could help fill in the archaeological record of beer consumption, providing insight into the social, ritual and dietary roles this drink played in prehistoric cultures, researchers report online May 7 in PLOS ONE.

Malting, the first step in brewing beer, erodes cell walls in an outer layer of a grain seed, called its aleurone layer. To find out whether that cell wall thinning would still be visible in grains malted thousands of years ago, Andreas Heiss, an archaeobotanist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, and colleagues simulated archaeological preservation by baking malted barley in a furnace. Using a scanning electron microscope, the researchers observed thinned aleurone cell walls in the resulting malt residue. Heiss’s team found a similar pattern of thinning in residues from 5,000- to 6,000-year-old containers at two Egyptian breweries.

The researchers then inspected grain-based remains from similarly aged settlements in Germany and in Switzerland. These sites didn’t contain any tools specifically associated with beer-making. But grain-based residues from inside containers at the settlements did show thin aleurone cell walls, like those in the Egyptian remains — offering the oldest evidence of malting in central Europe, the researchers say.

Heiss and colleagues suspect the malted residue from one of the settlements in Germany was beer, because the sample has characteristics of dried-up liquid, such as cracks along its surface. But remains found at other sites may be other types of malted foodstuffs, like bread or porridge.

This bowl-shaped hunk of cereal residue (left) from a settlement near Lake Constance in Germany dates back to about 3910 B.C. A scanning electron microscopy image (right) of the residue reveals thinning of the cell walls around aleurone cells (marked A), which is characteristic of malted grains. The researchers interpret this as some of the oldest evidence of malting in central Europe, and possibly the oldest evidence of beer in the region.

Read Full Post »

Archaeology.org


The 2012 holiday season
brought news of several exciting finds from across Europe that make up a veritable cocktail party—including wine, beer, and cheese—of archaeological evidence.

In a 2,000-year-old, 100-foot-deep well at the site of Cetamura del Chianti in Tuscany, Italy, archaeologists from Florida State University found 153 grape seeds. The pips date to the period shortly after the Romans claimed the site from the Etruscans. The researchers have identified the grapes as Vitis vinifera, or the wine grape. Because the seeds were not burned, they might carry preserved DNA that could offer insight into the beginnings of viticulture in the region now famous for its bold, fruity reds. “People are going to be interested in the variety of grapes we might be able to identify,” says archaeologist Nancy Thomson de Grummond.

Meanwhile, in western Cyprus, a domed, mud-plaster structure found at the site of Kissonerga-Skalia appears to have been used as a Bronze Age kiln to dry malt for brewing beer. Archaeologist Lindy Crewe of the University of Manchester in England and her team excavated the nearly 4,000-year-old oven, uncovering ashy deposits containing carbonized fig seeds, mortars and other grinding implements, and juglets. They also found sherds of a large clay pot that they believe was a pithos, a vessel in which a fire was lit and used as an indirect heat source within the kiln. Malt, the team hypothesizes, might have been stored in the juglets while they were in the kiln, and then removed to perform the rest of the brewing process.

Finally, new data indicate that sherds from vessels used as sieves, dating back to the sixth millennium B.C. in Poland, have residue of dairy fats on them, suggesting they were used in the earliest known instance of cheese-making. Researchers at the University of Bristol confirmed what Princeton archaeologist Peter Bogucki had suspected for 30 years—that Neolithic farmers in Europe whose settlements were dominated by remains of cattle were dependent on those animals for more than meat.

Taken together, the finds, spanning thousands of years and distant locations, suggest that tastes may not have changed all that much over the millennia.

Read Full Post »

On this day ten years ago…
via Brewing Up a Civilization

Read Full Post »

On this day ten years ago…
via Men owe women for ‘creating beer’

Read Full Post »

 

CNN.com

Israeli scientists have brewed beer from a 5,000-year-old strain of yeast — and apparently it tastes pretty fruity.
The University of Jerusalem’s Ronen Hazan and Yuval Gadot had the idea to reactivate the yeast, which was recovered from clay pots found at the nearby Tell es Safi/Gath archaeological site.
The site is believed to be the ancient city of Gath, home to the Philistine people.
It’s said to be the hometown of the giant Goliath, who — according to the Bible — was defeated in battle by the boy David.
Says Hazan, “I thought, wow, that’s kind of a miracle that the yeast survived thousands of years in these pots. Amazing.”
The beer took eight weeks to ferment, which is fairly speedy considering the yeast has been prepped for millennia.
One taste-tester described the beer as “really interesting” and “fruity like nut and bananas.” Another claimed that it was “tasty” and “unique” and “going down like oil.”
Not everyone was a fan, though. One person who tried the ancient beer concluded, “It tastes like burned bread.”
Yeast can impart 500 different flavors and aromas to beers and is very good at surviving the ages.
Some researchers say ancient Egyptians began brewing beer as early as 5,500 BCE.
But it was also being brewed in Mesopotamia, now Western Asia, where people may have used straws to drink it.
The team from the University of Jerusalem are currently in talks to find investors who might be interested in commercializing this beer from the time of Philistines and Pharaohs.

Read Full Post »

On this day ten years ago…
via Trophy Skulls and Beer

Read Full Post »

On this day ten years ago…
via Inca Food : Foods in Ancient days

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: