A team of archaeologists from Princeton University have discovered what they believe to be is one of the oldest breweries in history. The archaeologists, led by Deborah Vischak, assistant professor of art and archaeology at Princeton were excavating at the site of Abydos in southern Egypt when they came across evidence of the world’s oldest known industrial-scale beer production facility.
The ancient site is believed to be more than 5,000-years-old and in its heyday, could produce enough beer to serve thousands of people in a single batch. Vischak and his team worked with local Egyptian archaeologists and dated the brewery all the way back to the dawn of ancient Egyptian history, around 3000 BCE. The age of the site corresponds with the approximate time of the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Archaeologists working on the ancient site say the discovery reveals quite a bit of information regarding the level of resources available to Engypitants, and more so Egyptian kings had from their beginning.
“The Abydos brewery is quite revealing about the level of resources available to Egypt’s kings right from the start: the agricultural production they could draw on and the labour they could mobilize,” said Vischak.
“It’s these things precisely that allowed them to begin to build gigantic pyramids just a few generations later,” Vischak added.
In terms of how big the Abydos brewery actually is, the site contains at least eight separate installations, built-in parallel and spaced about 8 meters apart. Six of the eight, each approximately 20m long × 2.5m wide × 40cm deep, have been examined so far.
Each installation contained about 40 large ceramic vats, arranged in two rows and supported by rings of sun-dried mud struts.
Archaeologists also discovered earlier evidence for brewing beer at the sites of Hierakonpolis and Tell el-Farkha, but on a much smaller scale when compared to the Abydos brewery.
The discovery of multiple breweries indicates deep cultural importance of beer-making in ancient Egypt. It also provides more context for understanding why the first kings would invest such extensive resources necessary for this royal brewery at Abydos.
🍻👑 5000-year-old #brewery discovered: Archaeologists have unearthed what is possibly the world’s oldest high-performance brewery in #Abydos, #Egypt. 22,400 liters of beer are said to have been produced there at one time – presumably for rituals in the tombs of Egyptian kings. pic.twitter.com/lS4yfQdZfv
— DW Culture (@dw_culture) February 15, 2021
According to Matthew Adams, a senior research scholar at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University, “The capacity of the facility was industrial in its scale and unprecedented for its time, able to produce many thousands of litres, and probably built to supply the funerary cults of Egypt’s first kings, in which rituals were conducted both to worship them as divine figures and to sustain them in the land of the dead,”