Beer today, gone tomorrow

Tenenet was the ancient Egyptian goddess of beer. And because women customarily made bread, the making of beer was considered to be women’s work, since it was based on specially made loaves of bread baked with barley and then fermented in jars. But it seems that men had control of the brewery.

In Ancient Egypt, beer was also used as medicine. A medical document written in 1,600 BC lists some 700 prescriptions of which about 100 contain the word “beer”. Beer also had social status – a keg of beer was considered the only proper gift to be offered to the Pharaoh by a suitor seeking the hand of a royal princess. 30,000 gallons a year were also offered as a fitting gift to the gods by Pharaoh Rameses II (1303-1213 BCE) – the man responsible for the great temple at Abu Simbel and with whom one can come literally face to face in Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

Incidentally, in 1974 Egyptologists visiting the tomb of Rameses II noticed that the mummy’s condition was rapidly deteriorating. Ramesses was issued with an Egyptian passport that listed his occupation as “King (deceased)” and flown to Paris for examination where he was welcomed with as much ceremony as any living head of state. Not many people know that.

On 3 January 2014 BBC News reported that archaeologists had discovered the tomb of a brewer who served an ancient Egyptian court in Luxor more than 3,000 years ago. The team of scientists found the tomb during work on the burial site of a top official under Pharaoh Amenhotep III, who died around 1354 BCE.

Experts say the tomb’s wall paintings are well preserved and depict daily life as well as religious rituals. After a party to celebrate the find, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities said that security would be tightened around the tomb until excavation works were complete, when the tomb would be opened to visitors and bar-crawlers.

Although the archaeologists are confident that the man buried in the tomb was “head of beer production”, so far they have not revealed how they reached that conclusion.Beer-tomb


One comment on “Beer today, gone tomorrow

  1. Randy says:

    I suspect they knew that he was a beer producer because when they looked at his body they saw that it had a head on it. 😉

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