Research NewsArchaeology

How the Ancient Egyptians Brewed Beer

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Science  26 Jul 1996:
Vol. 273, Issue 5274, pp. 432
DOI: 10.1126/science.273.5274.432


Cambridge, U.K.—Ancient Egyptians evidently had a fondness for bread and beer, judging from the many contemporary written and pictorial references to them. But just how these staples were made has remained tantalizingly vague, for no one has ever found a recipe. Some clues can, however, be found in tombs, where these foods were often left for sustenance in the afterlife. Now a Cambridge archaeologist reports on page 488 that she has taken beer residues and dry crumbs that have survived in this arid atmosphere, examined them with an electron microscope, and by comparing them to the residues of modern food processing has come up with a theory of how ancient Egyptians brewed and baked which challenges the current understanding.