Kegconnection Complete Starter Kit and More Giveaway!


Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > Did a thirst for beer spark civilization?

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 01-19-2010, 04:34 AM   #1
Dr_Gordon_Freeman
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Black Mesa
Posts: 259
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts
Likes Given: 2

Default Did a thirst for beer spark civilization?

Cool article you guys might enjoy.


Quote:
Did a thirst for beer spark civilization?

By Michael Kan

Friday, 15 January 2010

Drunkenness, hangovers, and debauchery tend to come to mind when one thinks about alcohol and its effects. But could alcohol also have been a catalyst for human civilization?

According to archaeologist Patrick McGovern this may have been the case when early man decided to start farming. Why humans turned from hunting and gathering to agriculture could be the result of our ancestors’ simple urge for alcoholic beverages.

“Alcohol provided the initial motivation,” said McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. “Then it got going the engine of society.”

As one of the leading experts on the study of ancient alcoholic brews, McGovern has found evidence showing that early man was making the beverage as far back as 9,000 years ago.

His earliest sample, which dates to 7000 BC, includes pottery shards found in a Neolithic village at the Jiahu site in China. By examining the clay shards, McGovern discovered traces of Tartaric acid, a compound found in alcoholic brews.

The makers of this particular ancient beverage would have relied on a more primitive brewing method. Specifically, their teeth and saliva. To allow for fermentation, they would have first chewed on wild rice, turning the starch into malt sugar. This would then be added to a mixture of honey, wild grapes and hawthorn fruit — all ingredients that could be found in their surroundings.

Happy Accident?

The pottery sherds in China, along with a pattern of ancient brews found in other regions of the world such as Africa and Mexico, have led McGovern to theorize that alcohol had a pivotal role for the development of early man.

Even as our ancestors had no understanding of chemistry at the time, they likely would have discovered how to create alcohol by accident. McGovern said perhaps a sprouted grain that had fermented by falling in a pool of water was picked up and eaten. Once consumed, those drops of alcohol juices would have hit the taster’s brain, causing them to wonder where they could get more.

“A main motivation for settling down and domesticating crops was probably to make an alcoholic beverage of some kind,” McGovern concluded. “People wanted to be closer to their plants so this leads to settlement.”

If this were true, the first farmers would have in fact been real ale brewers. Moreover, alcohol, which is often used to break down barriers between people, would have acted much in the same way it did thousands of years ago.

“Whenever we look at the Neolithic beverages and the domestication of these plants, we find that it was more of an egalitarian effort, with people working together,” McGovern said.

Make Beer Not Bread

But why not make bread instead of beer? McGovern said the latter was simply easier to create. Humans were only just beginning to cultivate plants, meaning that any bread made at the time would have hardly been the edible loafs we see now.

Alcohol also just tasted good, McGovern said. The drink’s more positive psychotropic effects — such as increased cheerfulness and confidence — would have attracted early man to try and consume more.

“I think most people see (this theory) as a very plausible scenario. But we don’t have all the evidence,” McGovern added.

Examining ancient pottery has been McGovern’s main avenue in finding this evidence since it can retain traces of the liquids it once stored. Unfortunately most pottery found in the world only dates back as far as 5,000 to 7,000 BC, he said.

Still, McGovern’s research has revealed new findings about ancient man through the use of biomolecular archaeology, a field he helped pioneer over the last two decades.

“We humans are organic. The clothes we have, the food we eat, all of this is organic,” McGovern said. “But before the last 25 years we didn’t have ways to find out what (ancient human beings) were eating, or what they were using to decorate their clothes with.”

"Alcohol was always present right from the beginning," McGovern said, adding that early man also relied on the beverage for rituals and medicinal purposes. In a new book, titled Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer and Other Alcoholic Beverages, he further the details his research on the history of alcohol brewing.

As for his theory on how alcohol motivated man to adopt agriculture, McGovern said: “I just wanted to put it out there as a worldwide hypothesis. Then over time maybe the different pieces can be put together from across the world.”
__________________
Dr_Gordon_Freeman is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-19-2010, 01:35 PM   #2
SpanishCastleAle
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 4,384
Liked 29 Times on 29 Posts

Default

There was another thread on this just the other day. This is not really that new but still interesting.

__________________
Early brewers were primarily women, mostly because it was deemed a woman's job. Mesopotamian men, of some 3,800 years ago, were obviously complete assclowns and had yet to realize the pleasure of brewing beer.- Beer Advocate
SpanishCastleAle is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-19-2010, 01:41 PM   #3
Homercidal
Moderator
HBT_MODERATOR.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Homercidal's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Reed City, MI
Posts: 23,016
Liked 1947 Times on 1408 Posts
Likes Given: 1064

Default

I just finished reading a few sites which indicate that being able to cook grains, as well as beans and other things, helped man develop early civilisation. In particular, being able to cook inside a container, as it is necessary for these items, more so than meat, which could be cooked on a stick (or eaten raw).

Those articles were talking about man's early diet, and how a switch to a higher carbohydrate diet, has affected their health.

__________________
Livin' after midnight. Rockin' til the dawn. Lovin' til the morning. Then I'm gone. I'm gone.
Homercidal is online now
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-19-2010, 02:52 PM   #4
Dr_Gordon_Freeman
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Black Mesa
Posts: 259
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts
Likes Given: 2

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
There was another thread on this just the other day. This is not really that new but still interesting.
oops, didn't see another thread.

Not that new?
Quote:
Friday, 15 January 2010
__________________
Dr_Gordon_Freeman is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-19-2010, 03:07 PM   #5
SpanishCastleAle
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 4,384
Liked 29 Times on 29 Posts

Default

I meant the concept, not that particular article. The idea has been around for a while.

__________________
Early brewers were primarily women, mostly because it was deemed a woman's job. Mesopotamian men, of some 3,800 years ago, were obviously complete assclowns and had yet to realize the pleasure of brewing beer.- Beer Advocate
SpanishCastleAle is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-19-2010, 04:27 PM   #6
david_42
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
david_42's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Willamina & Oak Grove, Oregon, USA
Posts: 25,651
Liked 133 Times on 126 Posts

Default

Quote:
Even as our ancestors had no understanding of chemistry at the time, they likely would have discovered how to create alcohol by accident. McGovern said perhaps a sprouted grain that had fermented by falling in a pool of water was picked up and eaten. Once consumed, those drops of alcohol juices would have hit the taster’s brain, causing them to wonder where they could get more.
Strikes me as a rather silly idea. Much more likely would be for a gruel made with old/sprouted grain to start fermenting.
__________________

Remember one unassailable statistic, as explained by the late, great George Carlin: "Just think of how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are even stupider!"

"I would like to die on Mars, just not on impact." Elon Musk

david_42 is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 01-19-2010, 04:31 PM   #7
Scimmia
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: QCA, Iowa
Posts: 959
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
I meant the concept, not that particular article. The idea has been around for a while.
Yeah, there's been article after article on this. A quick google search turns up one from 2001.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n..._kurtbeer.html
__________________
Scimmia is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Pilot light or direct spark? TommyBoy DIY Projects 12 09-27-2010 01:41 AM
Spark Ignition for Brutus korndog Equipment/Sanitation 104 09-26-2010 04:37 PM
The foundation of civilization... CreekBrewery General Beer Discussion 2 01-18-2010 02:19 AM
How to spark fermentation that's stalled gimmebeer Wine Making Forum 3 09-06-2008 01:27 AM
The Thirst. Orfy General Techniques 9 01-22-2007 03:56 PM