Science

World's oldest industrial brewery unearthed in Egypt

World's oldest industrial brew...
Archeologists have discovered a 5,000-year-old industrial-scale brewery in Egypt
Archeologists have discovered a 5,000-year-old industrial-scale brewery in Egypt
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Archeologists have discovered a 5,000-year-old industrial-scale brewery in Egypt
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Archeologists have discovered a 5,000-year-old industrial-scale brewery in Egypt
Some of the kilns used to produce beer in ancient Abydos, Egypt
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Some of the kilns used to produce beer in ancient Abydos, Egypt
The beer-making infrastructure uncovered recently in Abydos, one of ancient Egypt’s oldest cities, paints a picture of the serious production in the area
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The beer-making infrastructure uncovered recently in Abydos, one of ancient Egypt’s oldest cities, paints a picture of the serious production in the area
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Beer is one of humankind’s oldest prepared beverages, with artifacts and evidence of its production dating back thousands of years. Shedding further light on its long and storied history are new findings from archeologists working in Egypt who have uncovered the world's first industrial-scale brewery, which they believe was pumping out thousands of liters of beer for the ancient kings of the region.

In the past few years, we've seen archeologists make discoveries that have reshaped our understanding of beer's history, tracing its roots via 5,000-year-old vessels and funnels, and even recreating these ancient brews in the lab. One discovery in Israel unearthed evidence of beer production that was found to be around 13,000 years old, making it the oldest example that we know of.

The beer-making infrastructure uncovered recently in Abydos, one of ancient Egypt’s oldest cities, doesn’t quite date back that far, but does paint a picture of serious production in the area. The discovery is more than a century in the making, stemming from a 1912 dig in which archeologists found what appeared to be a set of eight grain kilns, arranged in a neat row, among other tombs and structures in the area dating back to 3100 to 2700 BCE.

Some of the kilns used to produce beer in ancient Abydos, Egypt
Some of the kilns used to produce beer in ancient Abydos, Egypt

In the meantime, artifacts from other sites in the area indicated that these kilns were used for beer production. So over the past few years, archeologists returned to the original site and continued excavating to unveil the full extent of this brewing operation and collecting samples for dating and analysis.

They now know that this facility would have been capable of producing more than 22,000 liters (5,800 gal) of beer at a time, an order of magnitude greater than anything else in operation during this time in ancient Egypt. Located in a sacred desert that was exclusively the domain of Egypt’s early kings, the team says the facility served as an important part of royal expression during a critical time in the nation’s history.

“We can now add to these better-known symbols of early royal power an industrial production site built on an unprecedented scale to support royal ritual at ancient Abydos,” writes the University of Pennsylvania’s Wendy Doyon, who took part in the North Abydos expedition.

Source: Abydos Archeology

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5 comments
5 comments
Chris Coles
Beer equates to a source of clean drink; a fluid that is almost water, but absolutely clear of anything that might injure the drinker. Not only that, but something that others would pay to drink; so are these ancient discoveries also the first evidence of a free enterprise business producing a product to sell to customers?
buzzclick
...and over at the western corner of this archeological site, they discovered what is remarkably the world's oldest beer fridge. lol
paul314
With multiple kilns and brewing vessels, it seems plausible that a brewer like this would have staggered its brews -- perhaps instead of 50,000 liters every few weeks, 10,000 liters every few days. That would be enough to supply everyone in a small town with a pint a day. The industrial scale is clear from the grain demands -- 1-2 tons a week. Which means serving a region where there's that much agricultural surplus to put into beer-making.
toni24
But did they find the recipes too, that is what is important LOL
ArdisLille
Was a bakery also found nearby? Bakeries and breweries have gone hand-in-hand through the ages.