Sacred Beer

As Charles Choi reports, archaeologist Brian Hayden suggests that the Neolithic domestication of cereals may have been driven by the ritual desire for proto-Budweiser:

[His] argument is that Stone Age farmers were domesticating cereals not so much to fill their stomachs but to lighten their heads, by turning the grains into beer. That has been their take for more than 50 years, and now one archaeologist says the evidence is getting stronger.

Signs that people went to great lengths to obtain grains despite the hard work needed to make them edible, plus the knowledge that feasts were important community-building gatherings, support the idea that cereal grains were being turned into beer, said archaeologist Brian Hayden at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

“Beer is sacred stuff in most traditional societies,” said Hayden, who is planning to submit research on the origins of beer to the journal Current Anthropology.

For those not familiar with Hayden’s work, I recommend his book Shamans, Sorcerers, and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion.

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One thought on “Sacred Beer

  1. Andrew

    I realize this is an old post, but I wanted to share:
    Steven Erikson, a fantasy-lit writer with an archaeology background, used this idea in his Malazan Book of the Fallen, I think. Personified versions of Beer and Wine are two of the eldest deities in his pantheon. They are an old couple – both heavy-set, loveable, intimate, stumbling over each other, bickering back and forth.

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