The Beer Industry in Early Egypt and the Formation of Pharaonic Rule

  • Speaker: Travis Rupp
  • Track: Historical
  • Homebrew Con 2022
  • Pittsburgh

Beer has long been understood as a staple of the ancient Egyptian diet, but recent archaeological discoveries and analysis from Abydos and Hierakonpolis demonstrate that brewing was a complex industry in the Predynastic era (c. 3700-3000 BCE), predating Egypt’s earliest pharaohs. This presentation examines this new archaeological evidence and demonstrate how the scale of brewing facilities, equipment, and distribution networks supports the notion that beer was one of the oldest and largest industries in ancient Egypt. Controlling this vastly produced commodity may have played a role in the formation of imperial order in Egypt as well.

This presentation examines the wide variety of ancient Egyptian beer styles and demonstrate the Egyptian desire for beer quality. Experimental archaeology and efforts to recreate ancient Egyptian beer including recipes and processes for brewing a 5000-year-old Egyptian ale will also be examined.

Learning Objectives

  • Discover the earliest evidence of beer production in ancient Egypt
  • Understand beer’s role in the formation of the Egyptian state
  • Examine the different types of Egyptian beer
  • Learn ingredients, processes, and quality of ancient Egyptian beer and brewing
  • Explore efforts to recreate ancient beer via experimental archaeology

About the Speaker

Travis Rupp is full-time lecturer in classics, art history, history, anthropology, and mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he has taught for 13 years. He teaches all things Egyptian, Near Eastern, Greek, and Roman. His scholarly expertise focuses on ancient food and alcohol production, ancient sport and spectacle, and Pompeii and the cities of Vesuvius. He also worked at Avery Brewing Company for nine years, serving as the wood cellar and research and development manager. He holds the title of Beer Archaeologist and founded Avery’s Ales of Antiquity Series, which ran from 2016 to 2020. He serves on the National Advisory board for the Chicago Brewseum, and he is the recent founder of The Beer Archaeologist LLC. As a result of his careers and passions, Travis is writing books on the beginnings of beer in the Roman military, brewing in the early monastic tradition, and beer production in Revolutionary America. Recently his travels and research abroad have focused on monastic brewing in Italy from CE 400 to 900, brewing in Roman Britain during the second century CE, and beer production at Mt. Vernon and Monticello.

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