Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
We may be living in the age of craft brewing, but the craft of brewing has much deeper roots. For thousands of years, people have been intentionally fermenting cereal grains to create their own unique versions of the intoxicating beverage that we now call beer. In ancient Mesopotamia, beer was produced on a massive scale and was consumed on a daily basis by people across the socio-economic spectrum. Beer was a gift from the gods, a marker of civilization, a dietary staple, a social lubricant, a ritual necessity, and a reason for celebration. It was consumed at feasts, festivals, and ritual ceremonies, but also at home, on the job, and in neighborhood taverns. It was produced by brewers working for the powerful palace and temple institutions and also by local tavern keepers and homebrewers. This lecture explores the archaeological, artistic, and written evidence for beer and brewing in Bronze Age (3000–1200 BC) Mesopotamia, as well as recent efforts to recreate Mesopotamian beer.
Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:
Paulette, Tate, 2020. Archaeological perspectives on beer in Mesopotamia: Brewing ingredients. In: Borrelli, N., Scazzosi, G. (Eds.), After the harvest: Storage practices and food processing in Bronze Age Mesopotamia. Subartu 43. Brepols, Turnhout, pp. 65–89.
Civil, M. 1964. A hymn to the beer goddess and a drinking song. In Studies presented to A. Leo Oppenheim, eds. R. D. Biggs and J. A. Brinkman, 67–89. Chicago: Oriental Institute.
Damerow, Peter. 2012. Sumerian beer: The origins of brewing technology in ancient Mesopotamia. Cuneiform Digital Library Journal 2012, no. 2: 1–20.
Katz, Solomon H., and Fritz Maytag. 1991. Brewing an ancient beer. Archaeology July/August 1991: 24–33.