The #history_of_beer is being turned on its head.

In a cave near Haifa, Israel, scientists have found evidence of #beer_brewing innovations that might predate the appearance of #cultivated_cereals in the #Near_East. These findings support a hypothesis that beer may have motivated the original #domestication_of_cereals in certain areas.

Archaeological evidence suggests that #Natufians, a group of #hunter_gatherers who lived in the eastern Mediterranean some 12,500 and 10,200 years ago, were great #connoisseurs_of_beer.

This study analyzed residue from nearly 13,000-year-old stone mortars in a Natufian graveyard site and the discovered evidence of an expansive beer-brewing operation. The residual remains in these mortars contained #starch and plant substances called #phytolith, which are typically produced during the transformation of #barley and #wheat to beer.

The study found that this beer was made using seven different plant species, including wheat or barley, legumes, oats, and bast-fibers like flax. Researchers believe that the Natufians used a three-step process to produce beer- (a) germination of the grain to produce #malt, (b) heating the mash, and (c) fermenting the mash with wild #yeast, resulting in a thin gruel. According to the authors, "This accounts for the #oldest_record_of_man_made_alcohol in the world.” The researchers believe that the Natufian people brewed beer for ritual feasts honoring the dead.

A paper based on this research suggests this beer is 11,700 to 13,700 years old. Whereas, the remains of the earliest #bread recovered from a Natufian site are about 11,600 to 14,600 years old.

This finding suggests that alcohol making was not necessarily the consequence of surplus production of #agriculture, but to some extent it was also developed for #ritual and #spiritual purposes, prior to agriculture in some #cultures.

These evidences support the hypothesis that beer might have been the motivation to cultivate #cereals.

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