Archaeologists reveal Bronze Age drinkers enjoyed barley beer in goblets similar to modern pint glasses 3500 year ago
- Traces of the barley beer found in ‘numerous’ drinking vessels in the area
- Drinking cups and goblets ranged in size from a modern-day wine glass to a pint
People living some 3500 years ago in Mesopotamia, which now is modern-day Iraq, enjoyed a pint in much the same way we do today, researchers have found.
Archaeologists say the areas Late Bronze Age inhabitants enjoyed drinking barley beer not unlike today’s popular craft brews.
They found traces of the barley beer in ‘numerous’ drinking vessels in the area.
A drinking cup and faience bucket excavated from Khani Masi. The new research shows that by 1400 BC beer drinking had become an individual experience using drinking cups and goblets ranging in size from a modern-day equivalent of a small glass of wine up to just over a pint glass of beer.
Beer was both a staple of the Mesopotamian diet and an important component of rituals and feasting.
Traditionally, scholars have assumed that beer in Mesopotamia was consumed communally from large jars using long, bendy straws.
The new research shows that by 1400 BC beer drinking had become an individual experience using drinking cups and goblets ranging in size from a modern-day equivalent of a small glass of wine up to just over a pint glass of beer.
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A Mesopotamian clay tablet: The early writing tablet records the allocation of beer i what is know known as Iraq
An international team led by Dr Claudia Glatz (University of Glasgow) and Professor Jesse Casana (Dartmouth College, USA) has been carrying out large-scale excavations at Khani Masi since 2016 as part of the Sirwan Regional Project
‘Our results present a significant advance in the study of ancient Near Eastern beer brewing and consumption practices, said Dr Claudia Glatz, a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Glasgow.
‘They also provide us with unprecedented new insights into Mesopotamia’s cultural relationships with the Upper Diyala River valley, a strategic communication corridor between Mesopotamia and the Zagros mountains that formed part of the later Silk Roads and that we have only recently begun to explore systematically.’
Chemical compounds indicative of a barley-based fermented drink were discovered in numerous pottery vessels at the Bronze Age Site of Khani Masi located in the Upper Diyala River valley of north-eastern Iraqm, according to the paper published in The Journal of Archaeological Science.
Chemical compounds indicative of a barley-based fermented drink were discovered in numerous pottery vessels at the Bronze Age Site of Khani Masi located in the Upper Diyala River valley of north-eastern Iraq
For this research, the Glasgow academics developed a new analytical method that has allowed them for the first time to chemically identify beer in drinking vessels.
Dr Jaime Toney, a Senior Lecturer in Organic Geochemistry at the University’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, said:’We show that this suite of fossil compounds match those found in modern barley beer – identifying for the first time an important method for revealing the presence of beer, even when there is no visible evidence such as beerstone (a white crystalline substance that forms on the inner surface of fermentation and storage vats used in beer brewing).
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