Posts Tagged ‘drink’

Topic: Bourbon distillery; 1830’s

archaeological dig at early distillery yields valuable insights

Woodford distillery’s past comes to light with archaeology dig

VERSAILLES — One of Kentucky early distillers, Oscar Pepper, is making history again, this time about what early farm life was like in the Bluegrass.

Brown-Forman owns the Woodford Reserve Distillery near Versailles, on the site of the original Pepper distillery. Late this summer, archaeologists began excavating around the 1812 log cabin built by Elijah Pepper on a hill above Glenn’s Creek, where the first distillery and grist mill were built.

“We hoped to find any artifacts or architectural remains that would help fill in the picture of life there at the Pepper house,” said Dr. Kim McBride, co-director of the Kentucky Archaeological Survey, which is a partnership between the University of Kentucky Department of Anthropology and the Kentucky Heritage Council.

McBride and the other archaeologists located an area just to the side of the house, which is still standing, that proved a surprisingly rich source of one of archaeology’s best resources: trash.

“It’s other people’s garbage we are working with but we use that to get a picture of the culture, the socioeconomic status, such as how much they were spending on material goods,” McBride said. “By combining the archaeology with oral history and documentary research, we can get a picture of 19th-century life.”

They knew that Elijah and Sarah Pepper built the cabin around 1812 and used the nearby limestone springs for a grain mill and for making whiskey. Stone buildings built from 1838 are still used today by Woodford Reserve, along with post-Prohibition warehouses.

Elijah Pepper’s son, Oscar, and Scotsman James Crow in the 1830s revolutionized the bourbon industry by using scientific and hygienic practices and writing down their processes, said Chris Morris, present day master distiller at Woodford Reserve.

“Oscar Pepper was born in that house, as were so many other Peppers, and James Christopher Crow probably ate dinner in that house, slept in that house,” Morris said.

Elijah Pepper passed away in 1825, and Oscar Pepper took over the farm and distilling, Morris said.

“He built our current distillery between 1838 and 1840, that beautiful limestone building. He hired James Christopher Crow to be his distiller, and Crow worked most of his life in that stone building,” Morris said. “Historians credit Pepper and Crow with pretty much defining bourbon as we know it today. They have no claims on any inventions — they did not invent the sour mash process but they perfected it. They did not invent charring and using new barrels but they perfected it. … And the most important thing they did was they wrote this down. … We owe those two gentlemen a lot.”

Through oral histories and documents, the archaeologists knew that a long-lost structure, built at the same time as the cabin, once stood at the side of the house. But when they began digging they soon realized it was much larger than they had thought.

“We were really surprised and delighted to find the mirror image of the structure,” McBride said. “The eastern room had been really heavily turned over to yard use. There was a drilled well in there, and it was right near the back door, so that area had been heavy yard work area. That didn’t lead us to expect that this was really twice as big as what you could see on the surface. … Often what you find underground is more complicated — when you find out what you thought was an end wall is a divider wall.”

They eventually uncovered stone walls measuring 44.5 feet from east to west by 17.5 feet north to south, with chimneys on the east and west ends and a dividing wall in the middle.

The chimney on the east end was probably for heat but the one on the west end had a substantial fire box with a stone platform, probably large cooking pots, she said.

“This was probably a combination kitchen and slave quarters,” McBride said, which were common in that era. Records indicated the Peppers had six slaves when they settled in Woodford County and acquired more.

“After 1865, we have the death of Oscar Pepper and the estate is in transition, and with emancipation the structure was probably no longer needed,” McBride said.

Many of the most interesting artifacts the archaeologists found were probably dumped into what became a rubbish tip.

Yesterday’s trash, today’s treasure.

Lots of toys — especially marbles and doll parts — smoking pipes, coins, fasteners including hooks and eyes from corsets, and buttons were unearthed, as well as an inkwell, a salt shaker, broken glass stemware, pottery, eating utensils such as bone handled forks and knives, and what they think might have been a pool cue ball.

There was a tremendous assemblage of animal bones, including some with bullet holes, “so that will give us good insight into diet,” McBride said,

“The excavation is just the beginning. We bring everything back to an archaeology lab, where it’s cleaned, sorted, and cataloged. … We hope Woodford Reserve will find some of them useful for exhibits interpreting life at Pepper house, and they will be available for other scholars to use.”

Morris’ dream is to display the artifacts, possibly in the distillery’s popular visitors’ center. He also would love to use the stone foundation and the cabin in some way, possibly in another public distillery space.

With bourbon again on the rise, the Woodford distillery is expanding and Brown-Forman will be building several new barrel warehouses, including one very close to where the house is. They haven’t determined whether the cabin will be moved.

“We’re still working on plans for what we’re going to do with the house,” Morris said.

And the archaeologists aren’t done: Morris said they will be coming back to dig around the original distillery and grist mill site along the creek.

“I can’t wait to see what they find there,” Morris said.

Original article:


By Janet Patton —October 14, 2013



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Beowulf and Grendel

Topic: Royal feasting hall

Archaeologists in Denmark have excavated the sixth-century great dining hall at the centre of the epic work

The dark secrets of the legend of Beowulf, England’s oldest work of epic literature, are gradually emerging from under a field in eastern Denmark.

Archaeologists in the country’s earliest royal ‘capital’ – Lejre, 23 miles west of modern Copenhagen – are investigating the joys of elite Dark Age life in and around what was probably the great royal feasting hall at the violent epicentre of the Beowulf story.

The archaeologists – led by Tom Christensen, director of the Lejre investigation – have so far managed not only to find, excavate and date the late 5 or early 6 century building most likely to have been Lejre’s first royal hall (described in Beowulf as `the greatest hall under heaven’), but have also succeeded in reconstructing what was on the menu at the great feasts held there.

Scientific study this year of the bones of literally hundreds of animals found near the hall, shows that they feasted on suckling pig, beef, mutton, goat meat, venison, goose, duck, chicken and fish.

Other finds from around the hall have included fragments of glass drinking vessels, 40 pieces of bronze, gold and silver jewellery, pottery imported from England and the Rhineland – and the wing of a sea-eagle, whose feathers may well have been used for fletching arrows. Twenty other gold items were found just a few hundred metres away.

The discoveries, reported in the current issue of BBC History Magazine, are of international importance.

“For the first time, archaeology has given us a glimpse of life in the key royal Danish site associated with the Beowulf legend’’, said project director Dr. Christensen, curator of Denmark’s Roskilde Museum, four miles from Lejre.

The Danes plan to put the finds on permanent display next year at Roskilde and Lejre Museums.

In the Beowulf legend – which is believed to have influenced some aspects of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and was turned into a 150 million dollar Hollywood film six years ago – a young nobleman from southern Sweden goes to neighbouring Denmark to save its ruling elite from the depredations of a monstrous man-eating giant called Grendel. The monster had entered the Danish king’s great feasting hall at Lejre, while the king and his warriors had been sleeping off an evening of feasting and drinking, and had succeeded in devouring a number of them.

On meeting the king, Beowulf offers to rid the land of the monster. The king accepts – and Beowulf waits alone in the great hall for the giant to attack again. In the epic battle between the two that then ensues, the giant is defeated and retreats to a cave beneath a nearby lake where he is finally killed by Beowulf.

As well as investigating the hall most likely to have been the one associated with the Beowulf legend, the archaeologists have found, excavated and dated six other royal feasting halls in Lejre.

They have discovered that the early Danish monarchy used each hall for only a few generations, before dismantling them and building a new one – usually on or very near the same site as its predecessor. Detailed examination of the buried remains of successive feasting halls has shown that they were used between around 500 and 1000 AD. All were roughly on the same site – except for the one associated with the Beowulf legend which was 500 metres to the north.

It may be that the change in location was somehow connected with events described in the legend, part of which actually states that the early royal hall, was in fact abandoned – because of the depredations of Grendel. Whether Grendel (meaning quite literarily ‘the destroyer’) originally existed in some less legendary form – perhaps symbolizing a malevolent spirit responsible for disease and death, or a particularly fierce-looking human enemy – is as yet unknown.

The quasi-legendary high status individual that Beowulf is based on probably lived in the 6 century AD. The story of his exploits was most likely brought to England by Scandinavian (potentially southern Sweden originating) settlers in the 6 or early 7 century AD. The poem was then written by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet, probably sometime in the 7th or 8 centuries.

A tiny, silver and gold-covered bronze box in the form of a pendant, decorated with dragon-like motifs, from Lejre, dating from the sixth century, the era associated with the ‘Beowulf’ legend2 / 3

Original article:
By David Keys August 26, 2013

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Topic Bronze Age burial find

Lets hope they find more in the way of food stuffs at this site, interesting though.

A rare and “amazing” burial discovery dating back 4,000 years has been described as the most significant find on Dartmoor and has given archaeologists a glimpse into the lives of the people who once lived there.

The discovery of a bronze age granite cist, or grave, in 2011 in a peat bog on White Horse Hill revealed the first organic remains found on the moor and a hoard of about 150 beads.

As the National Park’s archaeologists levered off the lid they were shocked by what lay beneath.

The park’s chief archaeologist, Jane Marchand, said: “Much to our surprise we actually found an intact cremation deposit [human bones] which is actually a burial alongside a number of grave goods.

“What was so unusual was the survival of so many organic objects which you never usually get in a grave of this period, they’ve long since rotted away.”

Amongst the grave goods was an animal pelt, containing a delicate bracelet studded with tin beads, a textile fragment with detailed leather fringing and a woven bag .

The discovery of the White Horse Hill cist has increased the number of bronze age beads found on Dartmoor from eight to more than 150, including two amber beads
Ms Marchand said: “The whole thing was actually wrapped up in an animal pelt of fur. As we lifted it up very carefully a bead fell out and the thrill of realising that actually this is a proper burial, this is a bead which belonged to a burial.

“That’s what’s so exciting, you wouldn’t expect to find any archaeology somewhere like this stuck out on this peak hag. You’ll never be able to top this ever.”

Despite there being about 5,000 remnants of buildings and 200 burial cists on Dartmoor the moor has offered up few of its secrets.

English Heritage archaeologist Win Scutt said: “A lot of it’s to do with robbing, some people have actually robbed the stone, some have robbed the artefacts.

“But the biggest loss we’ve got is all the organic stuff, the bones have all been dissolved by the acid soil up here. The flowers, the gifts of drink and food which would have gone in, most of their life was organic, it was stuff that would rot away.
“If we could get the perishable items, the organic materials, it would really shine a big light into pre-history.”

This discovery has provided a rare glimpse into history with an ear stud or libret found in the bag while it was being examined at the Wiltshire Conservation Lab.

Ms Marchand said: “I don’t remember studs being recorded at any other excavation from this period. I’ve worked on Dartmoor for over 20 years and never anticipated getting anything like this.

“It’s just amazing, it suddenly brings them to life and actually you feel much closer to them because this is someone who likes their jewellery, I like jewellery, and actually you can identify with that side of things.

“We’re only at the beginning really I just can’t wait for the results to start coming in.”

Original article:


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Topic: Beer

One of the oldest microbreweries in history has been found in Cyprus and University of Manchester archaeologists are raising a glass to their ‘healthy’ discovery.

Microbreweries may be an inviting and trendy way to explore the world’s kookiest ales, beers and beyond, but researchers have now discovered that our ancestors were supping different flavoured concoctions three-and-a half-thousand years ago as a safer alternative to bread and water.

The team who excavated the two by two metre domed mud-plaster structure, led by Dr Lindy Crewe, have demonstrated it was used as a kiln to dry malt to make beer.

According to Dr Crewe, beers of different flavours would have been brewed from malted barley and fermented with yeasts with an alcoholic content of around 5%. The yeast would have either been wild or produced from fruit such as grape or fig.

She said: “Archaeologists believe beer drinking was an important part of society from the Neolithic onwards and may have even been the main reason that people began to cultivate grain in the first place.

“But it’s extremely rare to find the remains of production preserved from thousands of years ago so we’re very excited.

“The excavation of the malting kiln with associated sets of pottery types and tools left in place gives us a fantastic opportunity to look at Bronze Age toolkits and figure out techniques and recipes.”

The oven discovered by the archaeologists was positioned at one end of a 50 metre square courtyard with a plastered floor.

They found grinding tools and mortars which may have been used to break down the grain after it was malted, a small hearth and cooking pots made of clay to cook the beer gently.

They also found juglets, which they believe probably contained yeast additives or sweeteners to produce beers of different strengths or flavours. The beers’ ingredients were found by the team as carbonised seeds.

She added: “Beer was commonly drunk because it is more nutritious than bread and less likely to contain harmful pathogens than drinking water which can make you ill.

“But alcoholic beverages were also used to oil the wheels of business and pleasure in much the same way as today: work brought communities together for tasks such as bringing in the harvest or erecting special buildings.

“Instead of payment, participants are rewarded with a special feast, often involving quantities of alcohol, which also transformed the work from a chore into a social event.

“The people of the Bronze Age, it seems, were well aware of the relaxing properties of alcohol.”

An experimental archaeology team, led by Ian Hill of HARP Archaeology, recreated the drying kiln using traditional techniques, to test Dr Crewe’s theory in August .

The modern version used hot air to produce a temperature of 65° C – perfect conditions for heating and drying grains but still preserving it’s enzymes and proteins.

He said: “After the beers had been strained, we felt they were all pretty drinkable, though some varieties were better than others.

“The grape was less pleasant – a bit too sweet– the outcomes are less reliable when using wild yeasts, compared to brewers yeast, but the fig beer was definitely the most popular.”

Original article:
By dean Wilkins

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Topic: golden cup

Archaeologists have dated a rare golden cup uearthed near the town of Montecchio Emilia in Northern Italy to about 1800 B.C., making it one of only three other similar golden cups discovered in Europe and Britain that have intrigued archaeologists and historians for years.

The cup turned up during a survey of a gravel pit located along terraces adjacent to the Enza River. Previous surveys in nearby areas also revealed evidence of dwellings of the late-Neolithic and Bronze Ages (IV-III millennium B.C), terramara cremation urns from the mid-recent Bronze Age (XIV-XII centuries B.C.), and Etruscan graves.

A recent report stated that “It had clearly been lifted up and partially moved by the plough quite some time ago. No structure, tomb or anything else that could be correlated to the original resting place of the cup was found: evidently, it must have been buried in a simple hole in the bare earth. It appears to have been smashed in ancient times, then later partially broken by a plough, which seems to have pulled out a small piece”.

Archaeologists suggest that it might have served as a ritual cup, but the difficulty of its context when found has left archaeologists puzzled about the use, meaning and owners of the vessel. As reported, “No other elements – from strictly the same period as the Montecchio cup – were found in the gravel pit area: it thus must have been hidden away or placed there as a votive offering, although some information from the archives, presently under examination, might be able to link the cup to a finding of 13 gold objects, apparently from the Bronze Age, when a field in Montecchio was ploughed on January 18, 1782: unfortunately, the items were melted down. All that remains are lively descriptions from the period”.

Regarding the three other similar cups found in previous investigations, one was discovered in Fritzdorf, Germany in 1954 (pictured right) and is currently exhibited at the Landesmuseum in Bonn, Germany. The other two are exhibited at the British Museum and were found, respectively, in Rillaton (Cornwall) and Ringlemore (Kent) in the U.K. The U.K. cups differed from the Italian and German cups in that they featured a corrugated external surface. It is thought that there could be a trade system relationship that links the cups. According to Dr. Filippo Maria Gambari, Superintendent of the Archaeological Heritage of Emilia Romagna, “this find ideally links this area of Italy with the henges of the United Kingdom and the area of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany)”.

Scientists sudying the vessel found in Italy hope that further testing and analysis will provide clues relating to the origin, purpose, and makers, including its possible relationship to the other cups and the trade relationships and systems that existed at the time of its manufacture. Says Gambari, “this research could change the well-established ideas of trade in Bronze Age Europe”.

Original article:
popular archaeology
October26, 2012

Photos courtesy Archaeological Heritage of Emilia Romagna.


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Topic: Ancient drinking cup

Excavating a remote Maya palace in the ruined city of Uxul, archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered the ancient tomb of a young prince—and a rare artifact.

cup of Mayan Prince

The floor of an entrance building within Uxul’s 11-building royal complex concealed the entrance to the small chamber, which held the remains of the 20- to 25-year-old man and nine ceramic objects.

On one cup, “there was a simple message … in elegantly modeled hieroglyphics that read: ‘[This is] the cup of the young man/prince,'” team member Nikolai Grube, an anthropologist at Germany’s University of Bonn, said in a late-July statement.

Another cup bears a date, which Grube and colleague Kai Delvendahl interpret to mean the year A.D. 711, giving some indication as to when the prince lived and died.

It’s common for Maya artifacts to refer to their owners, Grube said. But all previous princely drinking vessels have been excavated “illegally, without controlled excavation, by looters. This is the first time we have found such a vessel in an archaeological context.”

The Maya civilization sprawled across much of modern-day Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Around A.D. 900 the so-called Classic era of the Maya Empire came to a close after a series of droughts and perhaps political strife.

The Man Who Wouldn’t Be King

Despite its obvious archaeological attractions, the small tomb at Uxul (ooh-SHOOL) is noticeably lacking in jade jewelry—suggesting the prince was not in line for the throne, experts say.

If he had been, archaeologist Jennifer Mathews said, “you would see very lavish objects like jade masks made in the individual’s likeness, jade earspools, or other elaborate jade objects.

“We don’t see that in this particular case, so they think that this was a guy who was part of the royal family but who was not in line for the throne,” added Mathews, of Texas’s Trinity University, who wasn’t part of the project.
Dig member Grube ruled out the possibility that any jade might have been looted from the tomb. It was “clearly sealed” before the excavation, with a stone bench perched atop the entrance for good measure, he told National Geographic News.

Prestige and Power

Though the young Maya prince may have had no hope of inheriting the kingdom, his fortunes look to have been on the rise.

Until 705, Calakmul, a Maya metropolis about 16 miles (26 kilometers) away, had ruled Uxul in today’s Campeche state. After that time Calakmul’s influence receded, and the prince’s family became the local rulers of Uxul. (See a map of the Maya civilization.)

In Maya culture, rulers were seen as godlike, and “they would have been lavished with all kinds of goods,” Trinity University’s Mathews added.

“Overall, his family would have had more prestige and power. I guess inadvertently he would have received benefits from that.”

Original article:
national geographic

By Rachel Kaufman, August 30, 2012

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Topic Roman ship

Photo: A jar is recovered from the ancient Roman ship. Credit: Centro Carabinieri Subacquei.



An almost intact Roman ship has been found in the sea off the town on Varazze, some 18 miles from Genova, Italy.

The ship, a navis oneraria, or merchant vessel, was located at a depth of about 200 feet thanks to a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) following tips from fishermen who had caught some jars in their nets.


The ship sank about 2,000 years ago on her trade route between Spain and central Italy with a full cargo of more than 200 amphorae.

Test on some of the recovered jars revealed they contained pickled fish, grain, wine and oil. The foodstuffs were traded in Spain for other goods.

“There are some broken jars around the wreck, but we believe that most of the amphorae inside the ship are still sealed and food filled,” Lt. Col. Francesco Schilardi, who led the Carabinieri Subacquei (police divers), said.


The ship, which dates to sometime between the 1st Century B.C. and the 1st Century A.D., is hidden under layers of mud on the seabed, which has left the wreck and its cargo intact.

The vessel will remain hidden at the bottom of the sea until Italian authorities decide whether to raise it or not.

“Right now the area of the finding has been secured, and no fishing or water traffic is allowed,” Lt. Col. Schilardi said.

Original article:


byRossella Lorenz

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Topic: More on chocolate

Archaeologists have found residues of cacao — or chocolate — on 2,500-year-old plate fragments from the Northern Maya Lowlands in Yucatan, Mexico. Although cacao residue has been found in cups from other sites that are 1,000 years older, this is the oldest trace of cacao in this northern region.

Perhaps more important, it is the first evidence that the Maya used cacao for anything other than as a drink. The presence of cacao on a plate suggests that it was used as a spice or sauce for food. Perhaps it was even a precursor of the popular mole sauce for meats, often made with chocolate, now widely used in Mexican cuisine.

Researchers had previously thought that the only uses for cacao by the Maya were crushing the beans and dissolving it in liquid to make a drink something like hot chocolate, or fermenting the pulp that surrounds the beans in its pod to make an alcoholic drink.

The plate fragments were recovered in 2001 by archaeologist Tomas Gallareta Negron of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History and his colleagues at Paso del Macho in the Southern Puuc region of Mexico. Paso del Macho, which dates from 600 BC to 500 BC, was a relatively small site, but must have been important because it had several small mounds and a ball court, said archaeologist George Bey of Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., who also worked at the site. “The fact that the inhabitants were able to acquire and use cacao indicates they were part of the larger Maya world even at this early date,” he said in a news release announcing the discovery.

Chemist Timothy Ward of Millsaps and his colleagues extracted the residue from the plate fragments and submitted it to mass spectrometry, which identified a ratio of theobromine and caffeine characteristic of cacao.

“This evidence, combined with other archaeological, architectural and settlement data, is providing us with a new view of this little known area of the Maya world during the earliest times,” Gallareta Negron said. “The Northern Maya world was just as complex and sophisticated as the far better known Southern Maya area, and we can now add the consumption of cacao to this list of traits.”

Original article:
By Thomas H. Maugh II
August 3, 2012, 11:18 a.m.

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EMS-89615 Egyptian wooden model of beer making...

Image via Wikipedia

Topic: Making beer like they did in Ancient Egypt

I forgot I even had this article. It was originally published in 2009

The picture to the left is of a model showing beer making in Ancient Egypt

If  you’re trying to be thrifty in the midst of this recession, try brewing your own beer in the style of the ancient Egyptians. Their yeast cells have been preserved for thousands of years.
While looking for recession-proof recipes to save money at the supermarket, I found a great resource for brewing your own recession-proof beer at home to save some money, it’s the article in Natural History magazine, the May 1996 issue, page 24, that describes how archaeologists brewed beer in the style of the ancient Egyptians, and in the 1990s even had it on sale at Harrod’s in London.
When archaeologists dug up King Tut’s and other ancients’ tombs in the 1920s and more recently, in the 1990s, they found starch granules in the ancient bread crumbs and beer dregs that revealed all the processes to which the bread was exposed during baking and brewing into beer.
All you have to do is back-engineer and reconstruct everything from scratch. So how do you brew your own beer the ancient Egyptian and Levantine way?
Instead of using your modern, cultured yeast, brew like an Egyptian and keep some yeasty residue from one brew to the next. The yeast sticks to the fabric of the brewing pots. Fermentation happens naturally from micro-flora.
All the former research showed barley and emmer wheat were grown in ancient Egypt. It was emmer wheat that the ancient Egyptians used to make beer at Tell el Amarna. Archaeologists saved the preserved emmer wheat on the temple kitchen floors. Here’ are the steps you can imitate the process at home to make ancient-style beer.
1. To make beer you buy some organic unhulled barley in a health food store. Moisten barley. Keep it moist until it germinates, then heat the barley to stop the germination (the result is called malt).
2. Add water and yeast so the malt sugars ferment.
3. Blend cooked and uncooked malt with water and produce a refined liquid free of husk by straining and mashing. For more information, go to my resource which is Natural History magazine, the May 1996 issue, page 24.
Here’s another ancient Egyptian way to brew beer. It’s going to taste like raspberries.

Boil barley and emmer wheat in a pot of water until it’s cooked and water is absorbed. Add cold water to make a brew. Fill the pot just before the rim.
Heat the mixture, adding more water and cooked malt. Add natural wild yeast and uncooked malt to the cooked malt. Health food stores have different types of natural yeast.
After adding the second batch of malt, cover, and allow the mixture to ferment.  Without adding any flavoring, the beer should be fruity and sweet and taste like raspberries. Try brewing your beer using the methods of a brewery so you don’t get a batch of bacteria in the brew to make you sick.
In fact, you can take your method to a brewery and ask whether you can brew your first batch at a brewery so you don’t make the mistake of letting it ferment at the wrong temperature and get yourself sick with a bunch of bacteria in the brew. Ancient Egyptian beer didn’t have the bitter hops flavor.
Here are the steps the archaeologists used to make ancient Egyptian beer. This information is in the article on making beer the ancient Egyptian way, published in Natural History magazine in the May 1996 issue, page 24. The article focused on the year 2050 BCE, the time of the XI Dynasty. So here are the steps the archaeologists used to make the ancient beer in the way the ancients would have brewed it.
First you have to grow the emmer wheat. But today emmer wheat is cultivated in Turkey. So if you live in England where the archaeologists were located, first you go to a health food store that imports Turkish emmer wheat. What the archaeologists actually did was to bring emmer wheat to England, about 850 pounds of it. And they grew that wheat at the at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany in Cambridge.
That’s all you need as far as raw material to brew beer the way the ancients made it, unless, of course, you must have water from ancient Egyptian wells. So that’s what the scientists did.
They analyzed old Egyptian desert wells to get the correct type of liquor. They had to do it because the old Egyptian well water is free from phospates and modern agricultural chemicals. So they had to add some gypsum to harden the water.
You at home can simply used distilled water.  Gypsum is calcium carbonate. Add a calcium carbonate tablet found in any health food store. Then flavor your ancient Egyptian beer brew with tiny amounts of juniper and coriander spices, obtainable in many herbal or health food stores. Or grow your own herbs from seeds in little pots or in your garden.
A modern yeast strain was used. It would have taken years of DNA research to reveal the exact nature of the yeast used in Ancient Egypt.  The experts chose a fast-fermenting strain from the National Yeast Collection in Norwich, also in eastern England, that works at a high temperature, as temperatures would have been hot in ancient Egypt, but not as hot as today.
No ancient Egyptian ever made beer with hops. They used malt. They never sweetened their beer with fruit or honey. If you want to make ancient Egyptian beer, you put coriander into the brew because it grew wild in the Nile Valley. Coriander in ancient Egypt was put into bread and other baked products. You can add juniper. That also was used in bread and beer. So put a pinch of juniper and coriander into your beer kettle.
Now comes mashing time.  Emmer wheat, unlike modern cereals, has a thick hull or husk. Emmer wheat can take up to 14 hours to grind into a grist suitable for mashing. The grinding was done with a pestle and mortar using dampened grain. This was the method used in Ancient Egypt and is still in use currently in Turkey. Emmer wheat is close to modern brewing grain.
If you want to find out what ancient Egyptian wheat used in brewing beer was like, look at how emmer wheat is ground into bread flower in Turkey today. This could be a great project for someone studying nutritional anthropology.
When you mash the emmer wheat, it produces a sugary solution. The archaeologists trying to make Egyptian beer did conventional mashing and boiling in modern pans, and the three-day fermentation took place in a gallon jar. Ancient peoples baked bread after they learned to brew beer.
First Neolithic peoples let raw mixed flour stand out in the air where the dough reacted with wild yeast and pollen blowing in the wind. As the dough dropped into water and fermented, it turned to a type of beer.
Then when people added more raw mixed flour to the beer and baked it, they produced a light, leavened bread. Since Nile water was muddy, beer was used instead of water in ceremonies and as the meal-time beverage of choice for ancient Egyptian workers.
In 1996, archaeologists from the University of Cambridge found no flavorings in the beer, only spices. The ancient Egyptians seemed to have used barley to make malt. Egyptians of four thousand years ago used emmer wheat instead of hops. They heated the mixture, and then added yeast and uncooked malt to the cooked malt. After adding the second batch of malt, the brew was allowed to ferment.
Drink the new beer a few days after fermentation. Ancient pharaohs got to wait a few more days for the beer to get stronger. Tutankhamun Ale was brewed at 6 per cent alcohol by volume/4.8 per cent by weight. One thousand bottles were once produced and sold only in London’s top department store, Harrods, which is owned by an Egyptian, Mohamad Al Fayed.
The ancient-style beer was opaque and gold-colored. It tasted like spiced, mulled fruit. Different strains of yeast give off a variety of tastes and aromas. “Brewing blended cooked and uncooked malt with water; the mixture was strained free of husk before inoculation with yeast,” according to Investigation of Ancient Egyptian Baking and Brewing Methods by Correlative Microscopy” Science July 1996, v273, n5274, p488, by Samuel, Delwen.
My references for this recipe were the articles titled, King Tut’s Tipple” Discover Jan.1997, v18, n1, p13, by Shanti Menon, and Investigation of Ancient Egyptian Baking and Brewing Methods by Correlative Microscopy” Science July 1996, v273, n5274, p488, by Samuel, Delwen. For more information, see the publications of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3ER, UK.
article from Examiner.com

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Topic: Cooking dates to almost 2 million years ago

This chimp and other non-human primates spend nearly half their time eating, but new research demonstrates that the cooking skills of Homo erectus allowed the lineage to save time and extract more nutrients, paving the way for bigger brains.

Nearly 2 million years ago, it seems the original naked chef was cooking up a storm. Homo erectus, the extinct hominid that’s a mere branch or so away from humans on the family tree, was the first to master cooking, new evidence suggests. This seminal event had huge implications for hominid evolution, giving the ancestors of modern humans time and energy for activities such as running, thinking deep thoughts and inventing things like the wheel and beer-can chicken.

“In the big picture, eating cooked food has huge ramifications,” says Harvard’s Chris Organ, a coauthor of the new study. Cooking and other food-processing techniques aren’t just time-savers; they provide a bigger nutritional punch than a raw diet. The new work is further evidence that cooking literally provided food for thought, making it easier for the body to extract calories from the diet that could then be used to grow a nice, big brain.

Humans are the only animals who cook, and compared to our living primate relatives we spend very little time gathering and eating food. We also have smaller jaws and teeth.

Homo erectus also had small teeth relative to others in the human lineage, and the going idea was that hominids must have figured out how to soften up their food by the time that H. erectus evolved. But behavioral traits such as the ability to whip up a puree or barbecue ribs don’t fossilize, so a real rigorous test of the H. erectus-as-chef hypothesis was lacking.

Organ and his colleagues, including Harvard’s Richard Wrangham, an early champion of the cooking hypothesis, decided to quantify the time one would expect humans to spend eating by looking at body size and feeding time in our living primate relatives. After building a family tree of primates, the researchers found that people spend a tenth as much time eating relative to their body size compared with their evolutionary cousins — a mere 4.7 percent of daily activity rather than the expected 48 percent if humans fed like other primates.

Then the team looked at tooth size within the genus Homo. From H. erectus on down to H. sapiens, teeth are much smaller than would be predicted based on what is seen in other primates, the team reports online the week of August 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Tooth size becomes dramatically smaller than what we would expect,” says paleoanthropologist David Strait of the University at Albany in New York, who was not involved with the work. “This is really compelling indirect evidence the human lineage became adapted to and dependent on cooking their food by the time Homo erectus evolved.”

Note: If you have not read it yet you might be interested in the book, Catching Fire-How Cooking Made Us Human, by Richard Wrangham mentioned in the above article. 

Original article:


By Rachel Ehrenberg

Web edition : Monday, August 22nd, 2011

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