By Aislinn Sanders
Bettina Arnold was recently featured in an in depth article about ancient brewing for the popular blog, Good Beer Hunting. Bettina currently teaches the course ANTHRO 312: The Past on Tap, The Archaeology of Fermented Beverages.
The article describes how understanding food and drink of the past is more complicated than it sounds. Biomolecular and experimental archaeology along with the analysis of art, architecture, and ancient texts and traditions helps us to paint the picture of human history. Questions raised about the history of ancient booze bridges the gap between archaeological and historical scholars and your everyday beer-drinker. “Alcohol marks important moments in time,” according to Dr. Bettina Arnold, and this tradition has stretched back since before the Stone Age. The funerary feast is no exception, and those participating in the event sometimes created “extreme beverages, high-ABV cocktails of beer, wine, and mead” as an offering to the dead in an exchange for ongoing support during the remainder of their lifetime.
The field of biomolecular archaeology is trying to uncover human history through molecular level food and drink residue. This field is interdisciplinary work, with understanding of botany, ethnography, geology, and home-brewing only further adding context to the wider picture. Today, the process of recreating these ancient brews is well underway, created by both scholars and commercial beer brewers.
To learn about women brewers, UWM’s Unhopped Iron Brewer Challenge, and commercial brewery controversies, read the full article here.