Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bronze Age Beer in Ireland

Spiegel Online:
Two Irish archaeologists have tried to brew beer like their ancestors used to make -- 3,000 years ago -- in an effort to uncover the purpose of common, ancient stone mounds.

It was a rough morning. Hung over after a night out in Galway, archaeologist Billy Quinn was nursing a headache over a hearty Irish breakfast, pondering the mysteries of his excavation site and thinking with a measure of self interest about mankind's age-old quest for mind-altering substances.

Then it hit him: His excavation site was a brewery.

The perfectly ordinary site was a flat, grass-covered earth mound known in Gaelic as a fulacht fiadh (full-oct fi-ah). These sites typically have a depression surrounded by a horseshoe crescent of charred stones. Archaeologists have turned up 4,500 so far across Ireland, and more are identified every year. Radiocarbon dating suggests most fulach fiadh were built between 1,500 and 500 BC.

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