Beer And Ancient Egypt: 9 Things You Probably Didn’t Know

Multiple jars of beer and red wine were discovered from King Tut's tomb.

There are multiple versions of beer in this day and age, but there was an acclaimed 5000-year old recipe that provided nutrition back in the time of Pharaohs and Egyptian Gods. According to experts, alcohol-free beer was of utmost importance in ancient Egyptian societies and was quite popular in various dynasties. You’d notice multiple figures of Gods consuming a massive jar of beer on one of the temple walls. Moreover, it was extensively enjoyed by children and adults.

Ancient Egypt, in general, had a large number of slaves. The food was divided into two different categories. The substandard or inferior items were consumed by the lower classes, and premium quality was for the upper class. Moreover, the Gods were often offered beers as offerings in sacred or religious ceremonies. This particular drink was indeed a staple.

ancient beer jar
The picture shows an ancient beer jar. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Here are nine interesting points you need to know about Egyptian beer:

1) According to the egyptologists and experts, the wages were paid in beer along with other significant supplies or eatables. Multiple workers used to reside in various villages near Giza. They used to get paid three times a day for their hard work.

2) There’s plenty of evidence that Egyptian beer was not particularly intoxicating; it was a concoction of nutrients and several different spices.

3) Certain varieties of beers were quite intoxicating too. Ancient Egyptians used to arrange various festivals in the past. People used to consume a large quantity of beer in the festivals of Bast, Sekhmet and Hathor. It is believed that they used to get drunk as part of their worship.

4) According to Egyptian legend, Osiris taught ancient Egyptians the craft and technique of brewing beer, but the brewing of beer was traditionally a female activity. The women of Egypt used to earn some extra money or supplies for their loved ones by brewing beer.

5) It is said that one of the main ingredients in the beer was bread made from a yeasty dough and malt. They used to slightly bake the bread and tear it into small pieces as one of the steps. Moreover, the flavour was incorporated in the form of dates and spices.

6) It is believed that another type of beer was brewed from barley and emmer, which was cooked and mixed with yeast and raw malt before being fermented.

7) The spices that were used as flavours were originally from Egypt. The ancient experts and archaeologists tried to find similar herbs that provided those exquisite flavours, but could not. They, however, came very close to the recipe. The beer they brewed was indeed sweet and rich in texture.

8) Egyptians from different dynasties used to incorporate a wide variety of herbs, oils and eatables in their drinks, such as olive oil, bog myrtle, cheese, meadow­sweet, mugwort, carrot, hallucinogens, etc. The archaeologists were able to find evidence of the original recipe in Pharaoh Scorpion I’s tomb. They discovered an exquisite combination of thyme, coriander, ginger along with various other spices and herbs.

9) Ancient Egyptians used to place various jars of wine in the burial chambers of Kings and Queens. Multiple jars of beer and red wine were discovered from King Tut‘s tomb.

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