Iron-Age Brewery Discovered in France

The brewing of beer is a practice that’s been in use for thousands of years. In fact, some of the oldest recipes we have from Sumer and Egypt are for beer. Just recently, a brewery in Iron-Age France was uncovered. In this month’s Journal of Human Ecology, archaeologists have published their findings of the oldest brewery in France – dating to 2,500 years ago.

It appears that beer brewing techniques have not changed in the last few thousand years:

“From what we can tell, it was processed in a way that was close to traditional beer-brewing techniques and was not so different from modern home-made beers,” lead author Laurent Bouby told Discovery News.

This is especially interesting as very little information remains in the historical record about beer making in Europe (due to the Greek and Roman’s preference for wine).

Read more about this discovery and the history of brewing beer in this article in Discovery News, MSNBC, and BBC News.


9 thoughts on “Iron-Age Brewery Discovered in France

  1. Jim Wheeler

    I’ll drink to that!

    May I offer a tidbit of related trivia from the windmills of my messy mind?

    I see this as supportive corroboration for continuing human evolution during historic times. Why? Europeans hold their liquor much better than Native Americans, among whose archeological remains, I will wager, not a single brewery will be found. QED


    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      Actually, the Native American also brewed, not beer but stronger stuff (pulche, mescale, etc). Let’s not forget that they also gave us cocaine, marijuana, and peyote.
      I’ve heard a theory that the reason certain groups (e.g. Native Americans, Irish, etc) are more prone to alcoholism as a people is because the gene connected to addiction is also related to survivalist genes (I need to find the source on that) – that’s why a lot of prominent politicians, warriors, adrenaline junkies, etc have addiction issues.
      We find a lot more alcoholism/addiction in groups that have suffered things like genocide as those most likely to survive would be those who carried the gene for surviving traumatic events (ergo the gene for addiction).

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  3. Jim Wheeler

    Interesting. This is new information to me.

    My dictionaries don’t have “pulche”, but mescale does sound very strong. The next three are not alcohol, so they don’t fit here.

    Several questions occur to me. How widespread were pulche, tequilla and the like? Were they the provence of only certain tribes, or widespread? I am skeptical because the Native American weakness for alcohol is well known, and another reason I find the notion persuasive is knowing that drinking water in the Europe of the Middle Ages was impure, even deadly. Hence, spirits were the preferred drink for young and middle-aged. (Few lived to old age, of course.) Alcohol addiction linked to a “survivalist gene”? What is a “survivalist gene”? Please let me know if you find your source on that.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      Pulche was a common, white frothy drink that we find amongst the Aztec. It can be fairly weak (like a beer) or as strong as hard liquor. It’s made from the Agave plant and still drunk in parts of Mexico today. Another common drink was Chicha, from fermented corn. Alcohol was prevalent in the New World, just like the old (and you’re right – drinking water in many early civilizations was heavily polluted and dangerous to drink).
      I’m trying to find the actual article, I believe I heard it at a talk. People with the addict gene, while they may have their drug of choice (alcohol, cocaine, etc), it all really comes from the same place. In fact, the new big drug issue on reservations is methamphetamine addiction.
      Those who have this gene also have a remarkable ability for ‘clarity’ in high stress situations – situations that would have me rocking myself in the corner (i.e. battle). During these situations, they have a greater sense of clarity, are more calm, and make better decisions/faster (not paralyzed with fear). Therefore, they are more likely to survive these situations. So, it’s a form of natural selection – those most likely to have survived these genocidal situations would also be carriers of the genetics for addiction.
      Dang it, I wish that I could find my notes. This was years ago and I remember finding it very fascinating. Of course, I also thought of a few exceptions to the rule.
      On an interesting note, a friend of mine volunteers as an addiction counselor. He told me that when he meets people who say “Everyone in my family is an alcoholic/addict.” that usually, it’s about 25-50% of the family members. However, when it truly is *everyone*, then they are usually 1/4 or more Cherokee Native American (there does seem to be some variety amongst tribal groups as well).

  4. Jim Wheeler

    Addict gene I get. Survivalist gene, new. One would think it would be a strong trait for evolving – unless, like some other traits it is an allele linked to a less beneficial gene. Thanks.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      Yep, the addict gene, which would be maladaptive in normal circumstances when no one would want to mate with you or you would kill yourself.

      Kind of like sickle cell anemia. Seems like a bad plan and that nature should have bred that one out. Then we discover that it provides excessive resistance to malaria in regions with heavy rates of the disease. So, in that specific case, it’s adaptive.

      I wish that I could remember the specific terminology. It’s not quite the ‘survivalist’ gene. That’s the wrong word. More like a “takes a lot to make you panic” kind of gene.

      Then again, it’s also just an idea (wouldn’t even put it into ‘theory’ category). Just this speaker’s argument for the prevalence of alcoholism/addiction in certain groups (he was highlighting Native Americans, Scottish, Irish, Russians, etc). I can’t even remember the speaker’s name. Lame.

      1. Jim Wheeler

        Not lame at all, Jennifer. I find it very interesting and very possible. Hmm. How about, “warrior gene”? Let’s call it a hypothesis.

        I too thought of the sickle cell example. Classic. Evolution continues to amaze me.


      2. Jennifer Lockett Post author

        Just lame that I can’t remember the speaker’s name or the proper terminology for it… it’s been a long time, however.
        Yes, the “warrior gene” sounds good, let’s go with that.

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