Beer and civilization
Beer Lubricated the Rise of Civilization, Study Suggests
May beer have helped lead to the rise of civilization? It’s a possibility, some archaeologists say.
Their 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.
Good to know that we’re still keeping in touch with our ancestors. Cheers!
I would prefer if the original archeologists had used the more accurate term: patriarchy, rather than civilization. One might wonder what does the raise of patriarchy have to do with beer. Well, I will differ to Terence McKenna’s Food of the Gods (available in its entirety at the link) with an analysis of alcohol and Western civilization that makes much sense to me:
The suppression of the feminine has been associated with the use of alcohol since very early times. One manifestation was the restriction of alcohol use to men. According to Lewin, women in ancient Rome were not allowed to drink wine.’ When Egnatius Mecenius’s wife drank wine from a barrel, he beat her to death. He was later acquitted. Pompiliu Faunus had his wife whipped to death because she had drunk his wine. And yet another Roman woman of the gentry was condemned to die of hunger merely because she had opened the cupboard wherein were kept the keys to the wine cellar.
Dominator style hatred of women, general sexual ambivalence and anxiety, and alcohol culture conspired to create the peculiarly neurotic approach to sexuality that characterizes European civilization. Gone are the boundary-dissolving hallucinogenic orgies that diminished the ego of the individual and reasserted the values of the extended family and the tribe.
The dominator response to the need to release sexual tension in an ambience of alcohol is the dance hall, the bordello, and the institutionalized expansion of a new underclass-that of the “fallen woman.” The prostitute is a convenience for the dominator style, with its fear and disgust of women; alcohol and its social institutions create the social space in which this fascination and disgust can be acted out without responsibility.
Yet how can we explain the legal toleration for alcohol, the most destructive of all intoxicants, and the almost frenzied efforts to repress nearly all other drugs? Could it not be that we are willing to pay the terrible toll that alcohol extracts because it is allowing us to continue the repressive dominator style that keeps us all infantile and irresponsible participants in a dominator world characterized by the marketing of ungratified sexual fantasy?
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