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Primordial Brew: Did Alcohol Inspire the Cultivation of Civilization?

Sure, it behooved our Neolithic ancestors to band together and form proto-civilizations for many reasons, but one main motivation, according to archaeologist Patrick McGovern — who works, and we kid you not, at the University of Pennsylvania Museum’s Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health — was the time-honored pursuit of alcoholic intoxication. –KA

Spiegel Online via Arts & Letters Daily:

Humankind’s first encounters with alcohol in the form of fermented fruit probably occurred in just such an accidental fashion. But once they were familiar with the effect, archaeologist Patrick McGovern believes, humans stopped at nothing in their pursuit of frequent intoxication.

A secure supply of alcohol appears to have been part of the human community’s basic requirements much earlier than was long believed. As early as around 9,000 years ago, long before the invention of the wheel, inhabitants of the Neolithic village Jiahu in China were brewing a type of mead with an alcohol content of 10 percent, McGovern discovered recently.

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