Five thousand-year-old brewery opened in Egypt

In Egyptian Abydos, archaeologists have discovered a 5,000-year-old brewery. It is possibly the oldest known brewery that produced beer on an almost industrial scale in Ancient Egypt. The opening was announced by the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt Mustafa Minister.

Brewing appeared in ancient Egypt five thousand years ago. Artifacts related to its production have come down to us, images of the process of its production, figurines-models, mentions in sources about beer. Archaeologists have found evidence of its production in the cult center of Upper Egypt in Hierakonpolis. And the only known site in Lower Egypt with the remains of small breweries from the pre-dynastic era (3200-3090 BC) was discovered by a Polish archaeological mission at Tell el-Fakhra.

Beer was popular as an everyday drink and was also used in sacrificial rites at funeral and memorial ceremonies. It is an important element of the myth about the salvation of humanity from the wrath of the goddess Hathor, who threatened with inevitable death. It was beer that was able to pacify the bloodthirsty goddess in the form of a lioness.

An archaeological expedition led by Matthew Adams of the Institute of Fine Arts of the University of New York and Deborah Vischak of Princeton University examined the remains of the brewery beneath the Abydos necropolis over two seasons and collected organic samples for subsequent dating and scientific analysis.

In total, eight large rooms measuring 20 x 2.5 meters were discovered. Each such block contains 40 ceramic containers in two rows, fixed in the ground with the help of clay supports. In these vessels, water and grain mixture were heated to obtain wort. The scale of production is impressive – in one cycle the brewery could produce about 22,400 liters of beer.

And although archaeologists know breweries of the same historical period in other ancient Egyptian settlements, a complex of such a scale has been found for the first time. Therefore, experts suggest that the brewery in Abydos served the court of Narmer, the pharaoh of the First Dynasty of the Early Kingdom, who united Upper and Lower Egypt into a single state. Such volumes, according to Matthew Addams, were required not only for the royal table, but also for use in funeral rituals.

The ancient Egyptian city of Abydos from the middle of the 4th millennium BC. was an important cult center of Ancient Egypt. Several temples and a large necropolis from the pre-dynastic period and dynasties of the Early Kingdom (about 3000-2700 BC) have survived here. European researchers discovered Abydos at the beginning of the 19th century, and since then excavations have been carried out here from time to time.

During work in 1912 under the tombs in the northern part of the Abydos necropolis, the British archaeologist T.E. Pitt (Egypt Exploration Society) discovered earlier buildings. He defined them as ovens for drying grain and attributed them to the pre-dynastic period of the history of Ancient Egypt. But Pitt was unable to fully clarify the purpose and scale of production in which the furnaces he found were involved. Later, documents with an exact indication of their location were lost, and excavations in this part of the monument were stopped for a century. Only in 2018, an American-Egyptian expedition began excavations here.

A photo: Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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