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archaeologist monday: ancient beer and the British Monday

What’s the most awesome ancient history fact most people probably don’t know about?

Ancient Egyptians were serious beer aficionados.

First ancient boozers.

Egyptians drank this 5.000 years-old ale daily, frequently, and as soon as it was fermented — straight from the terracotta vat using a straw. Classy.


Beer was the drink of ancient Egyptian workers and craftsmen, while wine was a more divine drink reserved for the posh ones.

Ancient beer was truly essential for these people — it replaced water lost through sweat *from building goddamn pyramids* and provided much-needed nutrients and calories.

The sugar and complex carbohydrates in beer were an important source of minerals, amino acids, and vitamins.

Pots of beer were also considered as a cool tipsy gift in Ancient Egypt for any type of celebration. Getting drunk was considered a way of entering religious ecstasy.

Egyptian gods and goddesses also received regular supplies of beer as offerings – especially Hathor, goddess of love, who was also nicknamed Mistress of Drunkenness.


When we’re talking about goddesses. Ninkasi was the Goddess of Beer (or Brewing).

A hymn to Ninkasi, engraved into a piece of clay in 1800 BCE, has a step-by-step divine recipe for beer making.

They sang about brewing to gods!

According to Ancient Egyptian scripture, brewing beer was a daily ritual for Ninkasi— well, c’mon, isn’t this the best and the most divine thing you’ve heard a God(dess) does?


Although the first beer-like beverage was found to be made in Persia, today’s Iran, some 7,000 years ago — and was one of the first-known biological engineering tasks where the biological process of fermentation is used in a process — we’ll focus on the Egyptian beer here for a reason.
Now, let’s go to the year 2018, London.

British Museum.

This institution created the Pleasant Vices YouTube series and events to make the museum’s exhibitions more approachable and inclusive for the public. Food and drinks are in focus. Bingo.

Cold beer was more than people’s cardio! Mission accomplished British Museum.

Back to the old times.

Historians believe the Ancient Egyptians drank very thick beer, but a team of experts teamed up by British Museum thought otherwise — at least because the huge percentage of alcohol would make the weird oatmeal mix outrageously undrinkable.

The team worked together to determine the method to brew Ancient Egyptian beer.

In the end, they found the perfect way. The team used the above-mentioned method of brewing from the hymn to Ninkasi.

The Ancient Egyptian way is easier and more simple than the contemporary ones: One-grain mash is in the cold water. The other grain mash is in hot water. The latter gets heated up and mixed with the cold grain mash. When rinsed into a vessel, the fermentation starts and lasts for two days in the terracotta pot. No no boiling, no sterilizing.

Bold moves.

Batches were spiced up with coriander, sesame seeds, rose petals, pistachio, and cumin. Rope dates were added to speed up the fermentation process.
They say the taste of the ancient beer is divine.

Pun intended.

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