Archaeology comes alive with an ancient beverage – Cheers to 5,000-Year Old Israeli Beer!

What happens when Israeli archaeologists find yeast inside ancient ceramic pots? We get to say Cheers to 5,000-Year Old Israeli Beer!

Ethiopian Tej connects the past and present (Photo: IsraeliAbroad)


Israeli scientists, examining nearly two dozen ceramic vessels from historical sites all around Israel, have found a way to revive the flavors of the ancient world. Samples extracted from these pots have yielded revive-able Yeast perfect for brewing. Teaming up with a Jerusalem brewery, a modern-style ancient beer dating back 5,000 years was produced. The ale features a “thick white head, caramel color and ‘funky’ nose.”

The yeast, found at sites including a Persian-era palace in the southern part of Jerusalem, En Besor near the border with Gaza, and a salvage dig near Tel Aviv, where matched with ingredients like hops, which weren’t available in the ancient Middle East. Nonetheless, the hops used don’t affect the flavor significantly.

“In Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs eat the scientists,” said¬†Aren Maeir, a Bar Ilan University archaeologist excavating a site at Tel es-Safi, the biblical city of Gath. “Here, the scientists drink the dinosaurs. It opens up a whole new field of the possibility that perhaps other microorganisms survived as well, and you can identify foods such as cheese, wine, pickles, opening a portal into tasting cultures of the past.”

One of the more amazing discoveries about this yeast is that it closely resembles the genome of modern-day alcoholic beverages produced in African countries like Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. So the next time you go out for Ethiopian food, make sure to ask for a glass of Tej, the traditional honey beer.

5,000-Year Old Israeli Beer

L’chaim to Ancient Beer! (Photo: Yaniv Berman – Israel Antiquities Authority)

Researches in Israeli have announced that their next creation will be pairing ancient yeasts and recipes to try and recreate drinks from antiquity. “We tried to recreate some of the old flavors that people in this area were consuming hundreds and thousands of years ago. [Yeasts] have a very crucial impact on flavor,” said Shmuel Naky from the Jerusalem Beer Center.

This sounds like some experimental archaeology we can get behind, and raise a pint to!

Related Topics: Alcohol, Ethiopian, Israeli Classics


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