Abydos beer factory: Ancient large-scale brewery discovered in Egypt

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An undated handout photo made available by the Egyptian Department of Antiquities on 14 February 2021 shows the remains of a brewery uncovered in the ancient city of Abydos at Sohag Governorate in Egypt

EPA

Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed what could be the world’s oldest known beer factory, dating back about 5,000 years.

A joint Egyptian-American team discovered the brewery in Abydos, an ancient burial ground in the desert.

They found a number of units containing about 40 pots used to heat a mixture of grain and water to make beer.

The brewery is likely to date back to the era of King Narmer, according to the Supreme Council of Antiquities.

It says it believes the find to “be the oldest high-production brewery in the world”.

King Narmer ruled more than 5,000 years ago. He founded the First Dynasty and is considered to have unified Egypt.

The brewery consisted of eight large areas, each 20m (65ft) long and each containing about 40 earthenware pots arranged in two rows, according to the secretary general of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, Mostafa Waziry.

An undated handout photo made available by the Egyptian Department of Antiquities on 14 February 2021 shows the remains of a brewery uncovered in the ancient city of Abydos at Sohag Governorate in Egypt

EPA

A mixture of grains and water used for beer production was heated in the vats, with each basin “held in place by levers made of clay placed vertically in the form of rings”, he says.

The brewery “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”, an Egyptian tourism ministry statement quoted archaeologist and mission co-head Matthew Adams of New York University as saying.

Beer is thought to have been produced on a large scale, with about 22,400 litres (5,000 gallons) made at a time.

“Evidence for the use of beer in sacrificial rites was found during excavations in these facilities,” the statement said.

Abydos is one of the oldest cities of ancient Egypt and houses vast cemeteries and temples.

The area is in the southern province of Sohag, in Upper Egypt, also home to the city of Luxor, one of the country’s most popular tourist sites.

Earlier this month, a mission working near Alexandria discovered several mummies from around 2,000 years ago with golden tongues inside their mouths.

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