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Oskaar
06-08-2004, 11:20 AM
Ok, so who has done what type of research on mead, it's history, it's relationship to "HoneyMoons," it's use in the ancient civilizations of Asia Minor, Egypt, Greece, etc.?

Most of the information I have seen that is documented has been from pagan, heathen and wicca tradition. I am searching for good internal and external evidence from "traditional" sources (archaeologists, historians, etc.) that support the claims about Mead being the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man, and of course the honeymoon story.

I know that there is substantial historic evidence to support the fact that the builders of the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops to the Greeks) on the Giza plateau between 2589 and 2566 were given beer made from water, flat bread, dates and yeast. I'm sure that mead is also in the mix at that point.

Thoughts???

Dan McFeeley
06-09-2004, 12:03 AM
. . . . Most of the information I have seen that is documented has been from pagan, heathen and wicca tradition. I am searching for good internal and external evidence from "traditional" sources (archaeologists, historians, etc.) that support the claims about Mead being the oldest alcoholic beverage known to man, and of course the honeymoon story.

There isn't any archaeological evidence to support the claim that mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage, but some good evidence showing the use of honey in the marking of fermented beverages, possibly 9,000 years ago, if some fascinating work by Patrick McGovern of the University of Penn. is more thoroughly researched. That sounds like I'm quibbling with words, but hear me out. Mead, i.e., a beverage made from honey and water, is well known in lore and tradition, but no empirical evidence exists showing it was first of all. On the other hand, at the earliest beginnings of the makings of fermented beverages, artifacts have been found the use of honey in making what seem to be various mixtures of things -- neither wine nor mead, but a combination of whatever fermentables happened to be at hand.

Actually, it would be very hard to identify a "first" of any kind in the making of alcoholic beverages. Fermentation in nature was easily observable, and it was much more likely that alcoholic beverages were made by many peoples, at many times, all of them independent "discoveries," so to speak.

The honeymoon story -- we had an extended discussion on this over on the Mead Lovers Digest. I don't have any URL pointers at the moment, but try checking Chris Haddon's searable MLD archive at www.aboutmead.com. The conclusion of the discussion was that the honeymoon story is folklore, but not an actual practice. Most telling in the discussion was the Oxford English dictionary. Check your local library for it, then look up honeymoon. You'll find that the earliest usages of the word have nothing to do with a "month of meading" for a newlywed couple.

Hope this is helpful!

Dan McFeeley
06-09-2004, 12:40 AM
I found a URL pointer to a review of Patrick McGovern's latest research -- http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i49/49a01601.htm

Take a look, really fascinating stuff on early use of honey in fermented beverages, lots of other good stuff!

Oskaar
06-09-2004, 05:50 AM
Thanks for the reply and the additional research resource.

I think we're both on the same side of the empirical fence. My statement about the pagan, wicca, heathen documentation was that they have information but not substantiated historical documentation, which makes me a skeptic until I find good historically and archaeologically sound evidence to support such claims.

I am in contact with an Egyptologist who has been researching from Egyptian pre-history (700,00 BC) forward to the eventual decline of the 28th dynasty and into the last of the Ptolemies.

There are a lot of sites with good pottery shards, stone tools, etc. in Egypt, so I wouldn't be surprised if something about honey in fermentation at a very early age comes from the research being conducted currently. Bear in mind this is not specifically Enology research.

I really appreciate your help and useful information.

Thanks,

Oskaar

Oskaar
06-09-2004, 05:51 AM
Oops, that should be 700,000 BC not 700,00 BC! :-[

Oskaar

artmc
06-24-2004, 12:13 AM
Oops, that should be 700,000 BC not 700,00 BC! :-[Oskaar

Ummm... you mean 7,000 BC right? ;D


* art *

artmc
06-24-2004, 12:16 AM
While not particularly specific to your request. I cannot recommend the following site enough:

http://www.archaeologica.org/

Plus as of today's posting, there is mention of humans farming as far back as 23,000 years ago. Pushing the number back over 10,000 years.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3826731.stm



* art *

Oskaar
06-24-2004, 12:29 AM
It is actually 700,000 BC and it is Egyptian PRE-History as I mentioned. So he's not talking about human beings as we know them today.

He is talking about the transition from pre-history into human history in Egypt as opposed to anywhere else because that is his area of focus. Burial in the sand, stone tools, animal bone tools all begin to show a trend as time progresses, and I find the information very interesting. It's kind of neat to watch the pre-history, evolve into human pre-history, and then into "human" history.

Neat stuff.

Oskaar

Oskaar
08-24-2004, 12:04 PM
By the way those are great Links Mc and Art!

Oskaar

WikdWaze
08-24-2004, 04:05 PM
I have no historical data to add here, but I am a huge fan of logical deduction.

First, it seems almost impossible to me that mead was not the first alcoholic beverage. It would have been very easy for even the most primitive minds to notice that when rainwater got into a beehive located in a tree trunk the honey became intoxicating. For anybody to "accidentally" discover the fermentation of grapes would surely have been more involved. I've done much research on the internet and still don't fully comprehend how to ferment grain, so beer hardly seems a candidate for accidental discovery.

Second, the honeymoon story. Until somebody comes up with a better explanation than the father providing the happy couple with honey, in the form of mead, for one moon, or month, I will stand by the folklore. This story fits entirely too neatly to be overlooked. Seems there'd have to be a very compelling story to overshadow this one.

Oskaar
08-24-2004, 11:10 PM
Apparently the Greeks and Trojans practiced placing both ambrosia and nectar into the nostrils of their dead soldiers to keep the spirit "fresh" until they were sent to the underworld on their funeral pyre.

From what I've read this was not to try and preserve the body, but to fuel the spririt and keep it fresh so it could be sent to the underworld. It was mentioned in both Herodotus' History and Homer's Illiad. I'll take a look at some of my other reference materials when I get back from Yuma next week.

Oskaar

Norskersword
08-25-2004, 11:38 PM
First, it seems almost impossible to me that mead was not the first alcoholic beverage. It would have been very easy for even the most primitive minds to notice that when rainwater got into a beehive located in a tree trunk the honey became intoxicating. For anybody to "accidentally" discover the fermentation of grapes would surely have been more involved. I've done much research on the internet and still don't fully comprehend how to ferment grain, so beer hardly seems a candidate for accidental discovery.

In The Compleat Meadmaker, Ken talks about this and has a theory that primitive man discovered mead. Primitive man probably made water sacks from animal skins and stuff. We as humans have evolved to love honey (probably why we like sweet stuff now) because it was a great source of fat so we could survive. Now it is a logical assumption that a caveman could be walking along one day with his water bottle thing and happen upon a bee hive. Having no other place to carry back the honey, he might have put the honey in the water skin. From there it is just a matter of leaving it alone.

Interesting, no? If this is true than mead is not only the first alcoholic beverage but mankinds first discovery of alcohol itself. A further reason why mead is so special.


Second, the honeymoon story. Until somebody comes up with a better explanation than the father providing the happy couple with honey, in the form of mead, for one moon, or month, I will stand by the folklore. This story fits entirely too neatly to be overlooked. Seems there'd have to be a very compelling story to overshadow this one.

Throughout time, people have thought of mead as an aphrodisiac. This story makes sense to with this fact. It seems likely that a family might give the happy couple some mead to get things started in the bedroom! And to make grandkids! ;D

Jmattioli
08-26-2004, 07:35 PM
Interesting, no? If this is true than mead is not only the first alcoholic beverage but mankinds first discovery of alcohol itself. A further reason why mead is so special.

Not to be a traitor, but--Just a thought that it might have been more likely that the discovery of alcohol might have come from any kind of fermenting fruit or even a coconut laying around cracked too long. Sugar is not partial to honey. Someone may have picked up the coconut to drink the juice and it was fermented. Walla--
the beginning of coconut rum ;).
Seems to me more likely that since fruits don't have to be diluted with water to start a ferment and they already have yeasts ready to go on the skins and were more common than honey, the chances of mead being first is not more probable but if you think I may be in left field, please don't crucify me and forget I even said it on a mead forum :)
Joe

Norskersword
08-26-2004, 11:04 PM
No it makes sense. Point taken. ;)

There are people that think beer was the first fermented beverage and there are people that think wine was. It's irrational and they are just choosing favorites. I won't be one of them. ;)

Jmattioli
08-27-2004, 02:00 AM
Who really knows what was first:
;)Could have been Apple Cider from the garden in the beginning. Who knows how many apples and how long Eve had them before she gave one to Adam. Something must have been wrong with the apple ;)
:-X
Hopefully not :-[
Joe

WikdWaze
08-27-2004, 04:03 AM
Once again, logic prevails. Mead may not be the first alcohol. At least I can say with certainty that it is older than beer. Although, if somebody came across a flooded barley field........

Dan McFeeley
08-28-2004, 12:35 AM
Not to be a traitor, but--Just a thought that it might have been more likely that the discovery of alcohol might have come from any kind of fermenting fruit or even a coconut laying around cracked too long. Sugar is not partial to honey. Someone may have picked up the coconut to drink the juice and it was fermented. Walla--
the beginning of coconut rum ;).
Seems to me more likely that since fruits don't have to be diluted with water to start a ferment and they already have yeasts ready to go on the skins and were more common than honey, the chances of mead being first is not more probable but if you think I may be in left field, please don't crucify me and forget I even said it on a mead forum :)
Joe

I think Joe has the soundest approach given in this thread. The first use of alcoholic fermentation very likely was neither wine, beer, nor mead. That's right, none of the above! A major problem when we ask which was "first," is a reading back of modern categories of "wine," "beer," and "mead" into ancient cultures and practices. Take a look at ancient Egyptian beer. Technically, it's a beer. It was brewed from grain, but was nothing like what we would call a beer today. Egyptian beer was flat, low alcohol, cloudy, with lots of grain husks and matter floating in it.

The earliest archaelogical artifacts showing the making of fermented beverages have little respect for our modern categories. Grape wine is very ancient, at least 7,000 years old and still counting. Artifacts showing the use of honey in the making of fermented beverages are combinations of ingredients that defy our modern categories. The earliest use of honey in a fermented beverage is very possibly 9,000 years old, but it wasn't a "mead," at least, not how we think of a mead today. It was a combination of grape, rice and honey. Neither mead, wine, nor beer. It was something unique in and of itself. Other artifacts showing the making of fermented beverages are similar. They're combinations of different things, cereal grains, fruit, herbs, honey. They're neither wine, beer, nor mead.

This is an important clue to the earliest alcoholic beverages. Patrick McGovern of the University of Pennsylvania has found evidence that strongly suggests that different cultures made use of alcoholic fermentation independently, without first learning about it from others. This makes sense. Ancient peoples were keen observers of natural processes and would have quickly discovered alcoholic fermentation in nature. Stories abound of birds becoming intoxicated from berries that have fermented, and there are other examples. They would have used whatever materials were at hand, and probably combing a little of this or that, with no intention of making a modern wine, beer or mead, just something that worked well.

Oskaar
08-28-2004, 02:24 AM
Dan,

What you're saying makes a lot of sense. Ancient people were professional foragers and had to be adept at it because their lives depended on it. Perhaps while they were on a hunt, or out foraging for berrys they would see a prey animal acting goofy and look around for what it was eating.

Given that some plants have "mind-altering" effects on the human body, they may have already experienced that and were looking for something else that didn't have such a bad side effect (I'm sure more than one or two of our descendents keeled over from a bad mushroom or poisonous berry, but may have had a psychotropic experience before they died)

To me it makes sense that they would stumble onto something in the way of fruit or other naturally induced fermented source by observation of the area in which they lived and foraged.

Even beer as we know it was very different as far back as the early 25th century BC in Egypt as I posted above. So it makes sense that whatever beverage they would make would be a basic recipe, and to sweeten it they would add honey. The ancient romans were big fans of wine sweetened with honey as were the ancient greeks.

Anyhow, I think Joe and Dan have it right. It would be nice to say mead is the first, but based on the likely past it probably isn't .

Oskaar

Dan McFeeley
08-28-2004, 01:57 PM
Hello Oskaar -- just read your response. Thanks!

I really want to emphasize that *no one* was "first." Neither wine, beer, nor mead. I really think that alcoholic fermentation was used well before the Neolithic era, although at this time there is no archaeological evidence confirming this, as of yet. When did "mead" first emrge? It's hard to say. First, how do you define "mead"? I'm finding lots of evidence that older cultures did not see "mead" in the same way that we do today. I think, and I'm not absolutely sure on this, that "mead" meant nothing more than a fermented beverage made with honey, regardless of what that beverage was. We still use that understanding today. Is melomel a mead? Yes. Is a metheglin a mead? Yes. Is a braggot a mead? Yes, sort of. What is the common factor here? Honey.

Lots lots more to be discussed here. Hope this is helpful!

Oskaar
08-28-2004, 03:24 PM
Howdy all,

I’m going to go out on a limb here and propose that our early Egyptian ancestors (Homo Erectus) probably stumbled across naturally occurring fermentation in the early Paleolithic Age between 700,000 and 70,000 BC. We know they used language, gathered food and used the hand axe, and there is a possibility that they even were able to control fire. The hand axe was flaked and fit into a hand very well. It was also the only tool for going on 70,000 years. To me it's not too much of a stretch to figure that if they found something like fermented fruit juice and drank it, they might keep their eye our for more. Especially if they caught a buzz from it.

The early Middle Paleolithic Age (approx 70,000 – 43,000 BC) was the time of the Neanderthal man who contrary to modern perception was not some hulking brutish oaf. Archeological evidence suggests that they buried their dead in caves, and cared for their injured and old. They developed a flaking technique that provided smaller better formed tools like daggers and scrapers. A lot of these types of artifacts have been found in the desert. As their manual and social skills evolve and develop, their skills of observation and imitation would naturally follow. So to would their sense of trying to incorporate the effects of any intoxicating foods or liquids that they found to be pleasant or "beneficial" to their lifestyle.

Then we come to good old Homo Sapiens (that’s us) who showed up during the Late Middle Paleolithic Age (43,000 – 30,000 BC). Homo Sapiens replaced rather than evolved from the Neanderthal and their average life expectancy was less than 30 years. Grim by our standards. We see bands or clans of about 20 – 50 people, and new tools started to develop. Obsidian, diorite and quartz begin to replace flint because a sharper and more enduring edge can be made from these materials. Also we have a new and innovative tool, the sickle. Also there was an intensive caring for wild grains and plants that may indicate an early flirtation with farming, but not in the sense that they planted crops.

The sickle was used to harvest wild grains. These people lived along rivers and lakes and have clay hearths. We also see the bow and arrow break onto the scene. The bow is the first weapon in history that stores energy, and then transfers to the arrow when it is shot. Indeed we see the development of arrowheads. There were arrowheads as small as your thumbnail that were used to hunt birds. Imagine the skill it would take to flake something like that. Again there is a “quantum” leap forward in social, manual, craft and harvesting skills, so to me it would follow that fermentation could be part of that. Especially given that they are actively harvesting wild grains and plants. Heck, they even had grindstones to grind the grain and pigment to color their eyes.

Then . . . the sickle disappears for a few thousand years. Debate ensues about why and how. But, I think, in a totally non-archeological kind of way, that because of the development of the Bow and Arrow, protein gathering (hunting) became easier and safer. One could be further away from the prey animal and less likelihood of injury or death made it easier to hunt. Bringing down a deer or something even bigger from a safe distance is a big payoff for ancient man. Generally I think they would choose the path of least resistance whenever he could. But, probably the sickle disappears because of crop failure (the dominant theory as I understand things), but in any case it does re-emerge in a few thousand years.

Moving forward from the Middle to late Paleolithic Age, man’s skills just keep growing, communities grow, social organization grows, man becomes more communal. In the Mesolithic (10,000-5000 BC) we see the development of pottery in Sudan, and the use of Malachite to color faces for religious purposes matures. As we move forward into the Neolithic we see strong archeological evidence of the development of agriculture, grains being cooked and beer being brewed.

So to me it is not outside the realm of possibility that the earliest of people might have known where to look for some fruit alcohol, especially after a rain. I don’t know that we’ll ever know for sure but it's sure fun to research it.

Oskaar

beeboy
08-29-2004, 01:42 AM
Hello everybody, I'm new to the board and mead brewing (currently have my first 5 gallons fermenting) but still feel the need to comment on this thread. There is a whole section of historians who attribute the change from a nomadic life style to a farmers life style was due to the need of our ancestors to have a steady source of fruits and grains so the could ferment it into beer or wine. It's a bit like the chicken or the egg, what came first. Did our ancestors start farming and then fermented the leftover grain or start harvesting to ferment the crop and realized that it was such a great deal that they began farming for more raw material. Chances are it was a combination of the two. Beeboy and his bees

Dan McFeeley
08-29-2004, 01:18 PM
Hello Beeboy -- welcome to the board!

What you're referring to is the beer v/s bread debate and yes, it was a kind of which came first, the chicken or the egg discussion. Try these URL's for more info:

http://www.beerchurch.com/history1.htm

http://www.funet.fi/pub/culture/beer/homebrew/docs/ninkasi_article

Thanks for chipping in on the discussion!

yabb_unknown_usr
09-20-2004, 09:09 AM
Hi new to your website. What fun ,thought I would pass this on It's on the back of a bottle of bunratty mead I picked up in Ireland."The honeymoon drink.Discovered by the Irish monks in the middle ages.This honey-based drink was believed to have powers of virility and fertilityand it became custom for the bride and groom to drink mead for one full moon after the wedding, hence the word honeymoon.It is still a tradition today to toast the bride and groom with mead." It was also the drink of the high kings of ireland. Quite tasty I must say. ;)

Vicky Rowe
09-22-2004, 08:36 AM
Hi Froglady, and welcome to my world!

I'm glad you like the website. I'll try to keep it interesting for everyone.

The info you found on the Bunratty bottle is interesting. Several of the historians (like Dan McFeeley) that research mead history have discovered that the 'honeymoon' legend seems to be just that, a legend. There are no historical records that indicate that this was in fact a regular practice. Although I can certainly see where imbibing mead *during* a honeymoon would make one more pliant and willing!

The Irish monks may have discovered mead when they came to Ireland, but mead definitely has historical references that go back *long* before that. You might find the articles in the History section of Gotmead interesting. There's a great one I found on mead found in King Midas' tomb! They even reconstructed a recipe using modern ingredients to approximate the mead they might have served at his funeral feast. Very cool stuff.

If you're really interested in the history of mead, do a search on the Gotmead site for 'mcfeeley'. That will turn up many posts by Dan in the Mead Lovers Digest, a large number of which have to do with the history of mead. Dan has made an exhaustive study of this subject, and, frankly, I sort of consider him to be the main authority on mead history in our age.

Hope this info leads you to new and interesting knowledge, and welcome to the madness that is mead!

Vicky - Gotmead webmistress

Pewter_of_Deodar
09-23-2004, 01:40 AM
Yes, we all know the evils of alcohol... addiction to fine meads being very high on the list... I suppose I am a sinner in that regards... but it is the woman's fault! Eve drove us all to love mead!

I feel so much better knowing it's not my fault ::)

Fortuna_Wolf
10-25-2004, 06:14 AM
Just to clear some stuff up...
Homo neandertalensis didn't go extinct till ~30000 bc
Homo sapiens had evolved by 400,000 - 200,000 BC, although Homo sapiens sapiens evolved 130,000 years ago. So, Homo sapiens sapiens has had a large overlap of time with Homo neandertalensis.

I strongly doubt that Homo erectus (2-.4 mya) was capable of producing fermented beverages, although eating fermented fruits might have been common. There is no evidence that they ever produced anything like a "drinking skin" or pottery, and thus had no fermentation vessels. So, saying that the first drinks were around 700,000 bc is kind of ... ???

Oskaar
10-25-2004, 01:32 PM
Hi Fortuna,

Thanks for the information. Please re-read my posts and you'll see that I'm not suggesting that the first drinks were at 700,000 BC, nor did I suggest that any species at that time produced "drinks" but probably could have stumbled across them and if they liked the effect, they might have even foraged for more. If you can positively refute that with some hard evidence, I'm eager to learn
:)

You'll also notice that I did not suggest that Neanderthal man went extinct before 30,000 BC, rather it was that he was at the height of his evolutionary time between 70,000 and 43,000 BC. It would make sense that he would have trailed off before he went extinct so your date of 30,000 BC would seem to follow.

Also please notice that I am speaking specifically of Egypt and the pre-history to history evolution in that area.

Thanks for your comments, I hope you'll re-read my posts and get a sense of what I am saying.

Cheers,

Oskaar

David Baldwin
10-25-2004, 09:25 PM
Not intending to turn this into a religious discussion however...

The ancient Hebrews cultivated vinyards and made wine from it. The first Biblical record of wine is in the book of Genesis. It's not necessarily a happy reference and mentions that Noah grew a vinyard, got drunk from the wine and ultimately cursed one of his sons for having seen him naked.

Honey is repeatedly referenced throught the Bible and was obviously a very rich blessing to the Israelites. There are repeated references to the land of Israel as the "land flowing with milk and honey"

Honey throughout these texts is referred to as a food which was eaten. I do not doubt that they knew of the fermentation of honey, I do find it interesting that it is never mentioned.

Oskaar
10-26-2004, 01:11 AM
Funny you mention that David. I've seen a lot of the references in the bible too.

I'm currently re-reading the History of Heroditus and there are several places where honey is mentioned. In ancient Babylon Heroditus mentions that there is wine made from the "Honey" of the date palm.

I've discussed and corresponded with a few people and there are conflicts over the translation of "honey" in the Ancient Near East Languages of that period. There is and has been a question about the use of "honey" in beers, and whether it was honey or dates from the date palms. During the building of the great pyramid on the Giza plateau between 2589 and 2566 the workers were given beer made from water, flat bread, dates, yeast and water.

It seems that the consensus of opinion is that "honey" means the consistency of the date palm material used in the beer. There is also similar anecdotal reference to figs being used in the same way. I think that Dan McFeeley might have some additional information on this topic.

Heroditus also mentions how the branches of the male palms were tied to the branches of the fruit bearing trees to allow the Gad Fly to enter the dates and ripen them. He relates that the Greeks practice the same technique with their fig trees.

There is also mention of the circular boats coming down the river (Tigris) which come from Armenia carrying their cheif product, wine, in casks made of palm wood. He also mentions "Palm Wine" being used to clean the internal organs of the bodies which were to be mummified.

Heroditus really got around in that ancient world!

Oskaar

Jmattioli
10-26-2004, 04:15 AM
Actually since you mention the Bible, the first mention of honey is before the promised land in :
Genesis 43:11
And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:

Of couse there is no mention of mead or honey wine. And in the 52 references to honey there is no hint of it being mixed with water or fermented although that doesn't mean somebody didn't figure it out and take a little nip now and then. They just never recorded it in our King James Bible.
Joe

JamesP
10-26-2004, 04:56 AM
But the bible does mention a most unique BEE HIVE - the body of a dead lion:


5: Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnah, and came to the vineyards of Timnah: and, behold, a young lion roared against him.
6: And the Spirit of Jehovah came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid; and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done.
...
8: .... and he turned aside to see the carcass of the lion: and, behold, there was a swarm of bees in the body of the lion, and honey.
9: And he took it into his hands, and went on, eating as he went; and he came to his father and mother, and gave unto them, and they did eat: but he told them not that he had taken the honey out of the body of the lion.


So be careful if someone offers you honey from out of their hand. Ask where they got if from ::)

Dan McFeeley
10-26-2004, 05:32 PM
I'm currently re-reading the History of Heroditus and there are several places where honey is mentioned. In ancient Babylon Heroditus mentions that there is wine made from the "Honey" of the date palm.

I've discussed and corresponded with a few people and there are conflicts over the translation of "honey" in the Ancient Near East Languages of that period. There is and has been a question about the use of "honey" in beers, and whether it was honey or dates from the date palms. During the building of the great pyramid on the Giza plateau between 2589 and 2566 the workers were given beer made from water, flat bread, dates, yeast and water.

It seems that the consensus of opinion is that "honey" means the consistency of the date palm material used in the beer. There is also similar anecdotal reference to figs being used in the same way. I think that Dan McFeeley might have some additional information on this topic.

Heroditus also mentions how the branches of the male palms were tied to the branches of the fruit bearing trees to allow the Gad Fly to enter the dates and ripen them. He relates that the Greeks practice the same technique with their fig trees.


I don't have much more to add other than discussion on the translation of the world's oldest brewing recipe, the Hymn to Ninkasi. Here's the passage in question:

You are the one who holds with both hands the great sweet wort,
Brewing [it] with honey [and] wine
(You the sweet wort to the vessel)
Ninkasi, (...)(You the sweet wort to the vessel)

Most seem in agreement that this is processed date palm, not honey. You can find the text in it's entirety at:

http://www.beerchurch.com/history1.htm