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Humans brewed beer over 13,000 years ago: Study

Press Trust of India  |  Boston 

Prehistoric humans had a thirst for craft and were such beverages at least 5,000 years earlier than thought, say scientists who have found evidence of alcohol production in the

Archeologists from the in the US and in analysed three stone mortars from a 13,000-year old Natufian in

Their analysis confirmed that these mortars were used for of wheat/barley, as well as for

The study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, suggests that practices existed in the over five millennia before the earliest known evidence, discovered in northern

"Alcohol making and were among the major technological innovations that eventually led to the development of civilisations in the world, and archaeological science is a powerful means to help reveal their origins and decode their contents," said Li Liu, from

The earliest archaeological evidence for cereal-based brewing even before the advent of agriculture comes from the Natufians, semi-sedentary, foraging people, living in the between the Paleolithic and the Neolithic periods, following the last Ice Age.

The Natufians at Raqefet Cave collected locally available plants, stored malted seeds, and made beer as a part of their rituals.

"The Natufian remains in Raqefet Cave never stop surprising us," said Dani Nadel, from the University of Haifa, who was also an excavator of the site.

"We exposed a Natufian burial area with about 30 individuals; a wealth of small finds such as flint tools, animal bones and ground stone implements, and about 100 stone mortars and cupmarks," said Nadel.

"Some of the skeletons are well-preserved and provided direct dates and even human DNA, and we have evidence for flower burials and wakes by the graves," he said.

"And now, with the production of beer, the Raqefet Cave remains provide a very vivid and colourful picture of Natufian lifeways, their technological capabilities and inventions," he said.

The Natufians exploited at least seven plant types associated with the mortars, including wheat or barley, oat, legumes and bast fibres, researchers said.

They packed plant-foods in fibre-made containers and stored them in boulder mortars. They used bedrock mortars for pounding and cooking plant-foods, and for brewing wheat/barley-based beer, likely served in ritual feasts 13,000 years ago.

The evidence of beer brewing at Raqefet Cave 13,000 years ago provides yet another example of the complex Natufian social and ritual realms.

Beer brewing may have been, at least in part, an underlying motivation to cultivate cereals in the southern Levant, supporting the beer hypothesis proposed by archaeologists more than 60 years ago.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sun, September 16 2018. 11:00 IST