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Archaeologists think that pottery artifacts at an ancient winery were used for daily activities by the people who worked there.
Credit: Ministry of Antiquities, Arab Republic of Egypt

By Mindy Weisberger,

Livescience.com

 

Archaeologists recently uncovered ancient storage rooms in a 2,000-year-old winery, at a site in Egypt’s Nile Delta to the north of Cairo.

Inside these rooms — which appeared to be climate-controlled for keeping wine — archaeologists also found coins, pots used in winemaking and other pottery objects, said officials with the Ministry of Antiquities for the Arab Republic of Egypt (MOA), who shared the find in a Facebook post today.

The rooms were linked to a larger winery complex, which had already been partly unearthed during earlier excavations. Based on evidence gathered during this latest dig, experts suspect that there may be additional buildings nearby, which housed the winery’s employees and their supervisors thousands of years ago, according to the Facebook post

The winery was built in what is now the Beheira governorate on Egypt’s northern coast, during the Greco-Roman era — which lasted from the fourth century B.C. to the seventh century A.D., the Associated Press reported. During that time, this region of the Nile Delta was renowned for producing some of the finest wine in Egypt, Ayman Ashmawy, head of ancient Egyptian artifacts at MOA, said on Facebook.

Walls that made up the newfound storage chambers were thick and built from mud bricks; in some places, the walls incorporated limestone slabs of different sizes. This building technique probably helped to cool the chamber and regulate the temperature of the stored wine, Mostafa Waziri, general secretary of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, said on Facebook.

A set of kilns and assorted pottery artifacts associated with daily activities was found alongside coins that spanned centuries: from the time of Ptolemy I Soter, a successor of Alexander the Great who ruled Egypt from 323 B.C. to 285 B.C., to the Islamic conquest from A.D. 639 to A.D. 646, MOA reported.

Archaeologists also found painted shards that may have once covered a building’s walls, as well as fragments of a mosaic layer that could have decorated the floor. These decorative elements hint at the presence of yet another building in the winery complex — possibly a residential structure for people who worked there, Ashmawy said.

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In the necropolis of Saqqara, Egypt, researchers discovered a broken jar containing what appeared to be a hunk of 3,300-year-old cheese — possibly the oldest known cheese in the world.
Credit: Courtesy of Enrico Greco, University of Catania, Italy

 

Original article:

Livescience.com

By Brandon Specktor,

 

If you are still disappointed about being denied the opportunity to drink the toxic red mummy juice unearthed in Egypt last month, we have some good news for you. Researchers have just discovered the world’s oldest cheese (also in Saqqara, Egypt), and it is almost certainly cursed… or at least contaminated.

The cheese in question was discovered among a large cache of broken clay jars inside the tomb of Ptahmes, former mayor of Memphis (ancient Egypt, not Tennessee) and a high-ranking official during the reigns of pharaohs Seti I and Ramesses II. The tomb is thought to have been built in the 13th century B.C., making it — and the cheese within — about 3,300 years old.

Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy and Cairo University in Egypt stumbled upon the cache during an excavation mission in 2013-14. Inside one of the fragmented jars, they noticed a powdery, “solidified whitish mass,” according to a study published online July 25 in the journal Analytical Chemistry. Nearby, they found a scrap of canvas fabric that was likely used to preserve and cover the ancient blob of food. The texture of this fabric suggested that the food had been solid when it was interred alongside Ptahmes a few millennia ago — in other words, the find probably wasn’t a jar of ancient spoiled milk.

To be sure about this, the researchers cut the cheese and took a small sample back to the chemistry lab for analysis. There, the team dissolved the sample in a special solution to isolate the specific proteins inside. The analysis revealed that the cheese sample contained five separate proteins commonly found in Bovidae milk (milk from cows, sheep, goats or buffalo), two of which were exclusive to cow’s milk. The researchers concluded that the sample was probably a “cheese-like product” made from a mixture of cow’s milk and either goat or sheep milk.

“The present sample represents the oldest solid cheese so far discovered,” the researchers wrote in their study.

Of course, this being mummy cheese, there must be a curse attached, right? In this case, that curse might just be a nasty foodborne infection. According to the team’s protein analysis, the cheese also contained a protein associated with Brucella melitensis, a bacterium that causes the highly contagious disease brucellosis. The disease is commonly spread from bovine animals to humans through unpasteurized milk and contaminated meat. Symptoms include severe fever, nausea, vomiting and various other nasty gastrointestinal ailments.

If the cheese is indeed infected with Brucella bacteria, that makes the find the “first biomolecular direct evidence of this disease during the pharaonic period,” the researchers wrote. Further study is required to say for sure whether the protein in question came from a contaminated animal, but in the meantime, we offer this obligatory disclaimer: Please, do not eat the mummy cheese.

 

 

 

 

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The 4,000-year-old complex may have been used to house important officials visiting from the royal capital in Memphis.

Original Article :

ibtimes.co.uk

The excavation site at Tell Edfu (with the temple of Horus and the modern town of Edfu in the background)G Marouard/University of Chicago

The excavation site at Tell Edfu (with the temple of Horus and the modern town of Edfu in the background)G Marouard/University of Chicago

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered two large buildings that they believe may have been the earliest major structures in the Tel Edfu region. Led by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, researchers found the structures while engaged in a long-term dig at the site located on the west bank of the Nile River.

Located 400 miles south of Cairo, the well-preserved buildings date back around 2400-2350 BCE in the late Fifth Dynasty of Egypt and indicate a turning point in the pharaoh’s interest in developing provincial regions outside of the major cities.

The large complex may have been used to accommodate important officials from the capital Memphis, who visited the area to oversee mining of precious metals and gems from the surrounding deserts. Archaeologists have been able to identify that parts of the structure were used for making beer and bread as well as for smelting copper.

“It’s a wonderful find because we have so little information about this era of settlement in the southern provinces,” Nadine Moeller, associate professor of Egyptian archaeology, who leads the excavation together with Oriental Institute research associate Gregory Marouard, said. “We don’t know any such similar complex for the Old Kingdom.”

The Oriental Institute has been conducting excavations at Tel Edfu for the past 16 years, and late last year discovered two other mud structures that may have been used as an administrative complex. The buildings which were discovered in December 2017 were surrounded by open courtyards and workshops. The complex itself had storage spaces where over 200 broken clay sealings used to mark boxes, containers and letters were discovered.

“It’s just about this time that the Egyptian royalty, until then focused on the northern area directly around the capital Memphis, began to expand its reach after a period of contraction during the fourth and much of the fifth dynasties,” Moeller said. “This is a first sign that the ancient city of Edfu was evolving into an important departure point for large expeditions leaving for the Eastern desert regions, and possibly the Red Sea shore, located about 125 miles to the east.”

Researchers believe the buildings may also have had religious or cult ties, given their proximity to a temple 20 yards away.

While archaeologists continue to identify and study the urban planning of the region, they are puzzled by the level of preservation of the structures. Unlike most other sites that were raided for their bricks, the eight-foot thick walls of this complex were never recycled. Additionally, given the scarcity of wood in Egypt, the entrance door was also left intact.

Another subject of interest is the architectural style used. The largest building in the area has outer façades with a very distinct slope, a style that was not popular in ancient Egypt.

“It’s very well-constructed and so the slope is certainly intentional, which highlights the architectural peculiarity of this monument,” Marouard said. “We don’t know of any other structure within an urban context in Egypt that looks like this.”

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Edible gold, which was first used as a food ingredient by the ancient Egyptians, is now seen as a sign of wealth.

Original article:

Dailysabah.com

İKLIM ARSIYA
ISTANBUL
Published November 29, 2017

 

The obsession with edible gold is taking the luxury cuisine world by storm, as flavorless, odorless, nontoxic, edible gold is used as a garnish for desserts, cocktails and even main courses such as hamburgers and sushi
While coating your food with gold may seem like a modern, innovative delicacy, the technique isn’t a new gastronomical trend but has been around for many centuries. According to gold leaf producer Manetti, edible gold dates back to ancient times; in Europe, the product was used for decorating dishes in the Middle Ages. Historically, the Elizabethan English embellished their meals with pure gold leaf. Gold dust tea has also been traditional for centuries in Kanazawa, Japan, which is well regarded for its production of gold leaf.
Ever since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, gold has been considered to be the only way to win the favor of the Gods. In ancient Egypt, gold leaf was used to decorate the tombs of pharaohs, as well as sarcophagi. The first use of gold has been traced to Alexandria, Egypt, over 5,000 years ago. The Egyptians were the first to use gold as a precious metal, and they made the first iterations of what we today consider jewelry. The Egyptians also consumed gold for the mental, bodily and spiritual purification that was associated with it. The alchemists of Alexandria developed an elixir made of liquid gold that they believed was capable of rejuvenating, restoring youth and ridding the body of all earthly diseases. It is thought that Cleopatra slept in a pure gold facemask every night as a means to enhance her bewitching beauty.
Although some people are still skeptical about the consumption of gold and see it purely as a way of feeding the ego, there are neither side effects nor benefits from eating the thinned out invaluable metal. Gold is considered biologically inert, meaning it passes through the digestive tract without being absorbed into the body. This means you can eat your fill of 24-karat gold, whether in the form of leaf, flake, dust or petal, without falling ill.
Mundane meals with a hint of gold
Whether it be a glimmer of gold on a piece of chocolate cake or a stunning metallic hint on a truffle, edible gold is commonly seen as a decorative element for a luxury loving sweet tooth. However, finding that edible gold is used in meals as mundane as a hamburger or a pizza has certainly led to both doubts and curiosity. Many restaurants, likely for publicity, have created a dish of newsworthy expense featuring gold. In 2012, a New York City food truck sold a $666 “douche burger” that wrapped truffles, lobster, caviar and a beef patty inside six sheets of gold leaf. Margo’s Pizzeria on the Mediterranean island of Malta sells a pizza for nearly $2,000 that has 100 grams of white truffle and edible gold.
The most extravagant dessert In NYC
The gilded ingredient has provided a helping hand in elevating the status of one New York-based restaurant, Serendipity 3, after it received a number of Guinness World Records for its gold infused dishes. During its history, Serendipity 3 has been known for creating the world’s most expensive dessert: A $25,000 ice cream sundae containing edible 23-karat gold and 28 cocoas, called “Frozen Haute Chocolate.” The sundae, created in 2007, overtook the restaurant’s previous record for the “most expensive dessert:” Their “Golden Opulence Sundae,” which they still sell for $1,000. According to the restaurant’s founder and owner, Stephen Bruce, “Everything looks better covered in gold,” with the restaurant beginning its relationship with the ingredient in 2004.
Nestle stepping up the gameSimilarly, a limited edition golden Kit Kat was produced in Australia and sold for AU$88 to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Inside the Kit Kat bar there were Phoenix Oolong tea leaves from Guangdong Province in China, combined with lychee and rose petals. The bar was then wrapped in a 24-karat gold leaf and topped with whole rosebuds and rose jelly.
A delicacy fit for a sultanWhen you think of the Ottoman Empire, luxury and history come to mind. It’s no surprise to have some of the finest edible gold desserts served in the ornate, former Ottoman palace overlooking the Bosporus, the Çırağan Palace Kempinski. The Sultan’s Golden Cake is available in the Çırağan Palace Kempinski Hotel located in Istanbul, for the hefty price of $1,000 and is made of figs, pears, apricot and quince that are put into a Jamaican Rum and soaked for two years. To finish, the cake is topped with French Polynesia vanilla bean, caramel, black truffles and a 24-karat gold leaf. It is said that the cake takes about 72 hours to make, and once it is ready to be served, it is placed inside a sterling silver cake box with a golden seal. However, the cake is usually only made per request: Usually for a wedding, celebration, or for a sultan himself.

 

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The discarded bone of a chicken leg, still etched with teeth marks from a dinner thousands of years ago, provides some of the oldest known physical evidence for the introduction of domesticated chickens to the continent of Africa, research from Washington University in St. Louis has confirmed.

Based on radiocarbon dating of about 30 chicken bones unearthed at the site of an ancient farming village in present-day Ethiopia, the findings shed new light on how domesticated chickens crossed ancient roads — and seas — to reach farms and plates in Africa and, eventually, every other corner of the globe.

“Our study provides the earliest directly dated evidence for the presence of chickens in Africa and points to the significance of Red Sea and East African trade routes in the introduction of the chicken,” said Helina Woldekiros, lead author and a postdoctoral anthropology researcher in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.

The main wild ancestor of today’s chickens, the red junglefowl Gallus gallus is endemic to sub-Himalayan northern India, southern China and Southeast Asia, where chickens were first domesticated 6,000-8,000 years ago. Now nearly ubiquitous around the world, the offspring of these first-domesticated chickens are providing modern researchers with valuable clues to ancient agricultural and trade contacts.

The arrival of chickens in Africa and the routes by which they both entered and dispersed across the continent are not well known. Previous research based on representations of chickens on ceramics and paintings, plus bones from other archaeological sites, suggested that chickens were first introduced to Africa through North Africa, Egypt and the Nile Valley about 2,500 years ago.

The earliest bone-based evidence of chickens in Africa dates to the late first millennium B.C., from the Saite levels at Buto, Egypt — approximately 685-525 B.C.

This study, published in the International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, pushes that date back by hundreds of years. Co-authored by Catherine D’Andrea, professor of archaeology at Simon Fraser University in Canada, the research also suggests that the earliest introductions may have come from trade routes on the continent’s eastern coast.

“Some of these bones were directly radiocarbon dated to 819-755 B.C., and with charcoal dates of 919-801 B.C. make these the earliest chickens in Africa,” Woldekiros said. “They predate the earliest known Egyptian chickens by at least 300 years and highlight early exotic faunal exchanges in the Horn of Africa during the early first millennium B.C.”

Despite their widespread, modern-day importance, chicken remains are found in small numbers at archaeological sites. Because wild relatives of the galliform chicken species are plentiful in Africa, this study required researchers to sift through the remnants of many small bird species to identify bones with the unique sizes and shapes that are characteristic of domestic chickens.

Woldekiros, the project’s zooarchaeologist, studied the chicken bones at a field lab in northern Ethiopia and confirmed her identifications using a comparative bone collection at the Institute of Paleoanatomy at Ludwig Maximillian University in Munich.

Excavated by a team of researchers led by D’Andrea of Simon Fraser, the bones analyzed for this study were recovered from the kitchen and living floors of an ancient farming community known as Mezber. The rural village was located in northern Ethiopia about 30 miles from the urban center of the pre-Aksumite civilization. The pre-Aksumites were the earliest people in the Horn of Africa to form complex, urban-rural trading networks.

Linguistic studies of ancient root words for chickens in African languages suggest multiple introductions of chickens to Africa following different routes: from North Africa through the Sahara to West Africa; and from the East African coast to Central Africa. Scholars also have demonstrated the biodiversity of modern-day African village chickens through molecular genetic studies.

“It is likely that people brought chickens to Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa repeatedly over long period of time: over 1,000 years,” Woldekiros said. “Our archaeological findings help to explain the genetic diversity of modern Africans chickens resulting from the introduction of diverse chicken lineages coming from early Arabian and South Asian context and later Swahili networks.”

These findings contribute to broader stories of ways in which people move domestic animals around the world through migration, exchange and trade. Ancient introductions of domestic animals to new regions were not always successful. Zooarchaeological studies of the most popular domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs have demonstrated repeated introductions as well as failures of new species in different regions of the world.

“Our study also supports the African Red Sea coast as one possible early route of introduction of chickens to Africa and the Horn,” Woldekiros said. “It fits with ways in which maritime exchange networks were important for global distribution of chicken and other agricultural products. The early dates for chickens at Mezber, combined with their presence in all of the occupation phases at Mezber and in Aksumite contexts 40 B.C.- 600 A.D. in other parts of Ethiopia, demonstrate their long-term success in northern Ethiopia.”

Source: How the chicken crossed the Red Sea

eurekalert.org

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vikings-8

 

Scientists in Sweden are launching their own mead — an alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mix of honey and water — based on old recipes they say could help in the fight against antibiotic resistance.

Together with a brewery, the scientists, who have long studied bees and their honey, have launched their own mead drink: Honey Hunter’s Elixir.

Lund University researcher Tobias Olofsson said mead had a long track record in bringing positive effects on health.

“Mead is an alcoholic drink made with just honey and water, and it was regarded as the drink of the gods and you could become immortal or sustain a better health if you drank it,” Olofsson said. “It was drunk by the Vikings for example and other cultures such as the Mayas, the Egyptians, and it was a drink that was regarded as a very beneficial drink.”

Honey production is key to the research. In previous research published in 2014, Olofsson and Alejandra Vasquez discovered that lactic-acid bacteria found in the honey stomach of bees, mixed with honey itself, could cure chronic wounds in horses that had proved resistant to treatment.

They said their research had proved that these bacteria had the power to collaborate and kill off all the human pathogens they have been tested against, including resistant ones. They are doing so by producing hundreds of antibacterial antibiotic-like substances.

What makes Honey Hunter’s Elixir different from other types of modern mead drinks is that is uses all 13 beneficial honeybee lactic-acid bacteria and the wild yeasts from honey that normally ferment mead spontaneously.

According to the team, commercial honey does not contain these bacteria. Since the honey and water mixture is sterilized before later adding industrial wine yeast, all other life in the honey, including wild yeast, is killed off.

The researchers say the drink contains 100 billion of these 13 different living and collaborating lactic-acid bacteria.

Olofsson said they believed mead could have been the most efficient historical equivalent to today’s antibiotics, and they see Honey Hunter’s Elixir as a possible way of preventing infections.

“Well, we’ve seen in our research that the honey bees actually add great flora of lactic-acid bacteria in honey, so the mead, when produced, is actually fermented by these lactic-acid bacteria together with wild yeasts and the lactic-acid bacteria can really kill off all the dangerous pathogens that are even resistant against antibiotics,” Olofsson said. “So our thinking is that the mead, when you consume the mead, these (antibacterial substances in) lactic-acid bacteria in the drink can actually be transferred to your blood and help you when you are infected with dangerous bacteria or promote health, preventing infections.”

In 2005, Olofsson and Vasquez discovered that many beneficial bacteria reside within honeybees in a structure called honey crop, which is the organ in which honeybees collect nectar for honey production.

As a result, their research has since focused on how this can be applied to functional foods, as alternative medical tools against infections and bee health.

The mead is part of this research, which is summarized on the website.

“We will have volunteers drinking this drink and measure different parameters to see if the compounds the bacteria produce could end up in the blood system and for that to cause a prevention or a cure for infections,” Vasquez said, adding that more research was needed.

“We don’t really know at the moment exactly which kind of infectious disease we could counteract in the future because we need to understand this thoroughly,” she said. “At the moment we know that the bacteria produce very interesting compounds, a lot of different weapons like antibiotics but a lot of them that collaborate and those weapons or the key in use in this viable bacteria in the future.”

If human trials are successful, it could help doctors overturn the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, in both First World countries and also in the developing world where fresh honey is more readily accessible than antibiotics.

In recent years antibiotic resistance has become a critical issue for global health, with an ever increasing number of strains of bacteria developing immunity.

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

By
Reuters
ILZE FILKS, REUTERS

Original article:

businessinsider.com

 

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Featured image: Proto-cuneiform recording the allocation of beer, probably from southern Iraq, Late Prehistoric period, about 3100-3000 BC (Flickr photo) –

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Archaeologist Patrick McGovern

Article:
An archaeologist working with a brewery is recreating ancient beers from around the world, including Turkey, Egypt, Italy, Denmark, Honduras and China. Alcohol archaeologist Patrick McGovern thinks he may even be able to recreate a drink from Egypt that is 16,000 years old.

McGovern, of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, has been working with Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware. The professor is using modern technology to detect traces of ingredients. In addition, Dogfish Head Brewery has produced beer using African, South American and Finnish recipes from centuries ago. For a list of the brews, see dogfish.com

Others have been attempting to brew and make wine. In 2013, Great Lakes Brewery in Ohio, with the help of archaeologists in Chicago, tried to brew a Sumerian beer whose recipe dated back 5,000 years.

Beginning in 2012, Great Lakes tried to replicate the Sumerian beer using only a wooden spoon and clay vessels modeled after artifacts excavated in Iraq. They successfully malted barley on the roof of the brew house and also used a bricklike “beer bread” for the active yeast. Current results have yielded a beer full of bacteria, warm and slightly sour.

Beer seems to have been an important part of Sumerian culture: the word beer appears in many contexts relating to religion, medicine and myth. In fact, the oldest documentary evidence of beer comes from a 6,000-year-old Sumerian tablet depicting people drinking a beverage through reed straws from a communal bowl, and the oldest surviving beer recipe can be found in a 3,900-year-old ancient Sumerian poem honoring Ninkasi, the goddess of brewing, fertility and the harvest. The poem describes how bappir, Sumerian bread, is mixed with “aromatics” to ferment in a big vat.

The production of beer in Mesopotamia is a controversial topic in archaeological circles. Some believe that beer was discovered by accident and that a piece of bread or grain could have become wet and a short time later, it began to ferment into an inebriating pulp. However, others believe that the technique of brewing beer was an early technological achievement and may have even predated the Sumerians in the lowlands of the Mesopotamian alluvial plane.

Now McGovern is extracting alcoholic beverage ingredients from residue on ancient pottery at archaeological sites worldwide and studying references in documents. He has been resurrecting beers and beverages that had been forgotten.

“He detected traces of various ingredients left by the drinks – including barley, honey, herbs and spices – using a number of methods including liquid chromatography, gas chromatography and mass spectrometry,” says an article the DailyMail.co.uk.

Dogfish Head brewed was what they called Midas Touch. The recipe is from molecular evidence from residues in what scholars think is King Midas’ Turkish tomb from 700 B.C. Midas Touch beer is made with barley malt, white muscat grapes, honey and saffron.

“A variety of alcoholic residues have been found inside important tombs around the world – suggesting that they were drinks used during celebrations or rituals and perhaps even to wish good luck to the dead in the afterlife,” the Daily Mail article states.

It’s not just beer that archaeologists are trying to recreate. Ancient-Origins.net reported in 2013 that Italian archaeologists planted a vineyard near Catania in Sicily with the aim of making wine using techniques from classical Rome described in ancient texts. The team expected its first vintage within four years.

In order to replicate conditions used in Roman times, modern chemicals will not be used on the crop and the vines will be planted using wooden Roman tools and fastened with canes and broom.

Instead of fermenting in barrels, the wine will be placed in large terracotta pots – traditionally big enough to hold a man – which are buried to the neck in the ground, lined inside with beeswax to make them impermeable and left open during fermentation before being sealed shut with clay or resin.

The research team will make two types of wine – the type once used for the nobles, which was sweetened with honey and water, and the type made for slaves, which was more vinegary.

The history of wine spans thousands of years and is closely intertwined with the history of agriculture, cuisine, civilization and humanity itself. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest known wine production occurred in what is now the country of Georgia around 7000 BCE, with other notable sites in Greater Iran and Greece, dated at 4500 BCE.

It appears McGovern was one of the earlier researchers to use modern technology in the ancient beverage field. He has been working with Dogfish Head Brewery since 2001 to recreate ancient beers.

But there is a reference at thekeep.org about a 1996 attempt by Newcastle Breweries in Melbourne to brew an ancient Egyptian beer.

“The Herald-Sun reported that ‘Tutankhamon Ale’ will be based on sediment from jars found in a brewery housed in the Sun Temple of Nefertiti, and the team involved has gathered enough of the correct raw materials to produce just 1000 bottles of the ale,” Caroline Seawright wrote at thekeep.org. That beer was 5 to 6 percent alcohol and was sold at Harrods for £50 (about $100) a bottle. The profit was to go toward further research into Egyptian beer making.”

By Mark Miller, February 1, 2015

ancient-origins.net

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