An unexpected discovery was made by archaeologists, discovering the remains of beer fragments in the settlements of ancient people. It turns out that brewing was such an old craft that science could not even accurately identify the approximate beginning of its development. Measurements of grain cells from the malt house made it possible to determine how populations of the ancient man brewed beer.
And this is confirmed not only by new archaeological discoveries but also by detailed laboratory studies, based on which scientists boldly declare: an ancient person regularly used beer. The composition of an ancient drink cannot be traced and identified by one component. Ingredients such as alcohol and related components are not stored.
But a new analysis of modern and ancient malt grain shows that the effect of brewing on the structure of grain cells could last for millennia. This evidence is completely microscopic, and it helps fill out archaeological data on beer consumption. With their help, scientists discover information about what role beer played in social, ritual, dietary situations in prehistoric cultures.
The first step in brewing is the use of malt. It destroys the cell walls in the outer layer of the grain, which are called the aleurone layer. Andreas Heiss, a specialist from the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna, wondered if thinning of the cell wall of the malt grain would be observed thousands of years later.
Together with his colleagues, he organized a skilful imitation of archaeological conservation. To do this, they had to bake malt grain in a furnace at a special temperature under a special pressure level. Then, using a scanning microscope, they studied the state of the aleurone layer, which consisted of a malt residue.
As it turned out, the same picture was observed in the remains of grain finds, and they were able to be identified by the burial dates. This happened 5-6 thousand years ago. Indeed, the remnants of malt grains were found in two Egyptian beer factories that are at least five thousand years old.
Researchers drew attention to the remnants of grain that were found in German settlements in Switzerland. Although they had extremely thin cell walls, as in the case of the discovered “Egyptian samples”, these findings can be considered the oldest evidence of malting in Central Europe.
The fragments of the bowl in which the malt remains were found dates back to about 3910 BC, which suggests that beer is much older than the science had previously believed.