There’s no disputing that almost everyone could use a good drink every now and again. It turns out that drinking alcohol might not be such a recent development. Researchers from the United States and Israel seem to have discovered evidence of the world’s oldest brewery in an Israeli cave!
Scientists found three 13,000 year old stone mortars which were discovered in the Raqefet Cave near the present day city of Haifa. Experts from Stanford University and the University of Haifa participated in the research. “This accounts for the oldest record of man-made alcohol in the world,” said Li Liu, a professor of Chinese archaeology at Stanford, in a statement.
The cave was a part of the Natufian people’s pre-historic graveyard rituals and provides a clue as to beer’s role in their culture. “This discovery indicates that making alcohol was not necessarily a result of agricultural surplus production, but it was developed for ritual purposes and spiritual needs, at least to some extent, prior to agriculture,” said Liu.
The Natufians mostly likely used a three-stage brewing process: first they turned the starch of wheat or barley into starch, next the malt would then be mashed or heated and then left to ferment with airborne wild yeast. This beer would be very different from our present day brews according to Jiajing Wang, a doctoral student at Stanford and co-author of the study. The Natufian brew was most likely a “multi-ingredient concoction like porridge or thin gruel,” the research says.