Do you love to get a beer every now and then with your friends? Or are you a wine lover? Well, modern archaeology suggests that your ancestors were pretty much like us in this matter. With the recent advancement in archaeology, many discoveries about ancient alcohol have been made. We know you would be dying to know what these luxurious drinks were made of. The techniques of fermentation were pretty different from todays and also the products used in the process might sound weird. You would be surprised to know this alcohol in one form or another has been in the world for over a millennia! Sometimes used my aristocracy, warriors or specially meant for the workers. In different civilizations, the use of alcohol was restricted to only certain classes. Think about how Brahmins in Vedic age avoided alcohol, and the warriors (Kshatriyas) and Vaisyas were allowed to drink it.
In many societies alcohol had different purposes. Let’s dive in and know more about them.
- It’s a medicine (wink): You might have heard people making excuses to drink alcohol, like alcohol works as a medicine. Although it is an undisputed fact that it harms your liver, but it has multiple medicinal properties and ancient civilisations were well aware of it. The Egyptians and the Chinese used alcohol for its medicinal properties. They used to make medicinal cocktails so that the natural medicines can be distributed to the body without much problems.
Alcohol usually broke down the alkaloids and gave a flavour to the bitter medicines. These were made of mint, honey, sage and coriander. The Egyptians used Papyrus for the therapeutic brewing. This beer gave the Egyptians antibiotics like tetracycline.
- Mass drinking festivals: Much bigger than the clubs you see today, these festivals invited people from diverse backgrounds and distant regions to the highlands of southern Peru. The brewed drink named Chica was developed more than 1000 years ago and helped to increase trade and popularity of the place when these mass drinking festivals were organised. Hence Chica held importance in economic and political manner.
In the ancient Mexican city, a milky alcoholic drink was made from Agave. Yeah if the name Agave rings a bell, Tequila is also made from Agave. It provided essential vitamins to the inhabitants.
- Cheers to Beer: In 3400 BC, The Sumerians were able to develop a beer (which no doubt was their most favourite drink). This beer was made of barley. They loved this beverage so much that they had large straws which they used to drink the beer while sitting around large bowls and vessels filled with the exotic drink.
Not only beer, the wine was probably one of the oldest alcoholic drink which was ever made. A wine cellar in Israel had a capacity to hold 550 Gallons of wine. Oh! And this wine was having spices and herbs to preserve it. I am sure a spiced wine is not what you would want to taste.
All this proves that, alcoholic drinks have proved to affect the culture and living style of previous civilizations and on multiple parameters ranging from political to medicinal. So go ahead, pour yourself a drink and make your ancestors proud!!