Our society is changing so fast that in many cases most of us are unable…
Our ancestors may have started brewing beer 13,000 years ago (although their versions didn’t look much like beer today).
For many people, nothing tastes better than a glass of cold beer, whether enjoyed at the end of a long day of work or while relaxing on a summer afternoon. But brewing beer—not baking bread—could be the reason our ancestors began cultivating grains in the first place.
Inside a cave in Israel, researchers from Stanford University have found evidence of the earliest known beer-making operation, which they think may predate the cultivation of the first cereals.
Both of these milestones belong to the Natufians, a hunter-gatherer group who made the eastern Mediterranean region their home more than 10,000 years ago.
For the new study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, a team led by Li Liu, a professor of Chinese archaeology at Stanford, analyzed traces from stone mortars dating back some 13,000 years. They found the mortars at a Natufian graveyard in Raqefet Cave, near the modern-day city of Haifa.
The results of the analyses indicate that the Natufians exploited at least seven plant taxa, including wheat or barley, oat, legumes and bast fibers (including flax). They packed plant-foods, including malted wheat/barley, in fiber-made containers and stored them in boulder mortars. They used bedrock mortars for pounding and cooking plant-foods, including brewing wheat/barley-based beer likely served in ritual feasts ca. 13,000 years ago. These innovations predated the appearance of domesticated cereals by several millennia in the Near East.