Latest research at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HUJI) surrounds around the beer culture during the Pharaoh period. Reports suggest that beer was closely attached with religious worship and healing properties. In order to study what kind of beer pharaohs drank, a team of microbiologists examined the pottery used to produce beer. By studying the colonies of yeast that were settled in the pottery’s nano-pores, the researchers were able to resurrect yeast to create high-quality beer, which is about 5000 years old.
The study was led by Dr. Ronen Hazan and Dr. Michael Klutstein. With the help of a group of cooks, the team isolated yeast specimens from debris in order to create the alcoholic drink. Vintners at Kadma Winery still produce wine in clay vessels, the researchers sought help from them in order to extract yeast from pottery, although it was lain dormant in the sun for many years.
Dr. Ronen Hazan, microbiologist at Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine and lead researcher of the study recorded in a statement, “The greatest wonder here is that the yeast colonies survived within the vessel for thousands of years–just waiting to be excavated and grown. This ancient yeast allowed us to create beer that lets us know what ancient Philistine and Egyptian beer tasted like. By the way, the beer isn’t bad. Aside from the gimmick of drinking beer from the time of King Pharaoh, this research is extremely important to the field of experimental archaeology–a field that seeks to reconstruct the past. Our research offers new tools to examine ancient methods, and enables us to taste the flavors of the past.”
Reports suggest that the team of microbiologists also acquired shards of pottery that were used to store beer and mead, a type of honey wine, in ancient times. The specimens allegedly still have yeast specimens stuck inside them. These objects of research or jars date back to the reign of Egyptian Pharaoh Narmer (roughly 3000 BCE), to Aramean King Hazael (800 BCE) and to Prophet Nehemiah (400 BCE). As the bible suggest they governed Judea under Persian rule.
Further research also confirmed that the yeast specimen was similar to the one found in traditional African brews, 5000 years ago, especially in Ethiopian honey wine tej. With the help of beer expert Itai Gutman, scientists recreated the ancient beer and it was deemed high-quality and safe for consumption by testers.
This study is considered as a breakthrough in recreating ancient alcohol from ancient yeast and from original substances.