Mass brewery uncovered in Egypt may be oldest in the world

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Before there was the King of Beers, there was the Pharaoh of Beers.

A team of archaeologists in southern Egypt has uncovered what’s believed to be the world’s oldest large-scale brewery, dating back more than 5,000 years.

“The joint Egyptian-American archaeological mission, headed by Dr. Matthew Adams of New York University, and Dr. Deborah Vischak of Princeton University, working in North Abydos, Sohag, has uncovered what is believed to be the oldest high-production brewery in the world,” Egypt’s tourism ministry wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday.

The suds shop “likely dates back to the era of King Narmer,” who ruled around 3100 BC and is widely credited with uniting Upper and Lower Egypt, the post quotes Mostafa Waziry, the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, as saying.

The sprawling brewery consists of eight sectors, each with about 40 earthenware pots divided into two rows — and is believed to have made more than 22,000 liters of beer at a time, according to the statement.

The facility “may have been built in this place specifically to supply the royal rituals that were taking place inside the funeral facilities of the kings of Egypt,” said Adams in the statement, which went on to note that beer may have been used in “sacrificial rites.”

British archaeologists previously learned of the brewery’s existence in the early 1900s, but could never pin an exact location on it, according to the statement.

In 2019, Israeli researchers used 5,000-year-old yeast recovered from Egyptian, Philistine and Judean pottery fragments to brew up a batch of beer.

And in 2014, archaeologists in the Egyptian city of Luxor unearthed the relatively modern tomb of ancient brewmaster Khonso Em Heb, dating back some 3,200 years.

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