Friday, January 14, 2011

Beer begat civilization

“A main motivation for settling down and domesticating crops was probably to make an alcoholic beverage of some kind. People wanted to be closer to their plants so this leads to settlement.”

This is a theory being postulated by Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum.  McGovern is well known in the beer world for his globetrotting discoveries. He is an expert on the study of ancient alcoholic brews. Among his findings is evidence that proves man was making the beverage at least as far back as 9,000 years ago. If you've watched the Ancient Ale episode of The Discovery Channel's Brew Masters (starring the Dog Father himself, Sam Calagione), you've seen Pennsylvania McGovern "hard at work." 

In an interview with Michael Kan for the Independent ("Did a thirst for beer spark civilization?"), McGovern theorizes that alcohol production provided the initial motivation to stop our hunting and gathering ways and to settle down to maintain crops. Which led to civilization.

Ironically, I recently wrote about this very thing and a lot of my ramblings in that piece are based on McGovern's work. Check out my lengthy diatribe, "Beer is as beer does", from November for the details.

Given the accumulating evidence it seems like McGovern's theory is dead on. In fact, what science and archeology has uncovered in the last 80 years or so - most of which has been kept under wraps by mindless, terrified, mainstream channels - has literally redefined how we should see a great many things, from what we were taught in school about religion and the origins of man, to the very history of our own country. In this day and age of all-access information, keeping our heads buried in the sand is no longer a viable excuse for complete and utter ignorance.

Check out the article from The Independent and let me know your thoughts.