Drink like an Egyptian: Historians discover the world’s oldest beer factory in Egypt

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Drink like an Egyptian: Historians discover the world’s oldest beer factory in Egypt
A 5,000 old beer factory discovered in EgyptEgypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
  • A joint US-Egypt discovery team has found a beer factory in ruins of ancient Egypt going back 5,000 years.
  • According to New York University’s Mathew Adams, this factory was capable of producing 22,400 liters of beer at a time — that’s nearly 50,000 pints.
  • For workers, like the ones who built the pyramids of Giza, 10 pints of beer were provided as a daily ration to get them through the day. Even more was consumed during festivities and special occasions.
Egyptians loved their beer. Not just for drinking, but for sacrificial rites. According to historians, Egyptians were the first civilisation to perfect the art of brewing beer. And now, new evidence shows that Egypt may also be home to the world’s oldest mass production brewery in the world.

A huge beer factory has been found in an ancient burial ground in North Abydos — the desert area west of the Nile and around 450 kilometers south of Cairo asper Egypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.

Drink like an Egyptian: Historians discover the world’s oldest beer factory in Egypt
Abydos is one of oldest cities of ancient Egypt, located around 11 kilometres from the NileGoogle Maps/BI India

It dates back at least 5,000 years to the days of King Narmer who ruled between 3150 BC to 2613 BC. The brewery could have been producing as much as 22,400 liters of beer at a time, according to Matthew Adams of New York University — one of the researchers who led the joint Egypt-US discovery team.
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The factory has eight units. Each unit is around 20 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. Moreover, each of these units is lined with some 40 earthen wares pots each laid out in two rows.

And, these pots are where the magic happened. A combination of grains and water were mixed and added to the pots to produce beer.

Drink like an Egyptian: Historians discover the world’s oldest beer factory in Egypt
Pots used to brew beer in ancient EgyptEgypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

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Beer wasn’t just a drink — it was food
Beer was the result of the agricultural revolution. Fermentation was an accidental by-product of gathering wild grain. Beer, in itself, wasn’t something that was invented but ‘discovered’, according to historians.

However, the manufacturing of beer was an active choice. And, the Egyptians loved to consume it in huge volumes. Back in the 1900s, British archaeologists proposed that such a factory probably existed, but they were unable to determine its location at the time.
Drink like an Egyptian: Historians discover the world’s oldest beer factory in Egypt
Pots used to brew beer at the world's oldest beer factory discovered in EgyptEgypt's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

The reason for their hypothesis was that in ancient Egypt, beer was such an integral part of daily life that it was essentially treated as a type of food.

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For workers, like the ones who built the pyramids of Giza, beer was a necessity. Each person was provided with a daily ration of over 10 pints. And, this beer was not drunk out of mugs but using a straw with holes or a filter to leave out any sediments that collected in the pot.

Evidence of pottery being used to brew beer was first discovered in Tel Aviv by the Israel Antiquities Authority, six years ago.

The 5,000-year old huge beer factory, however, was discovered in Abydos, which is the necropolis of ancient Egypt filled with ancient monuments that honor Osiris — believed to be the god of the underworld. Just as other faiths have Hades, Acheron or Yamraja — Osiris is responsible for judging souls in the afterlife.

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But he wasn’t the only one associated with beer. Its divine status extended to many other gods and goddesses like Hathor — the goddess of love, dance and beauty — also known as ‘The Lady of Drunkenness’.

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