World’s oldest beer factory uncovered in Egypt


A team of Egyptian and American archeologists has uncovered the world’s oldest mass-production breweries at a prominent Egyptian site.

The 5000-year old brewery was dug up by a team of researchers in Egypt’s Sohag Governorate at a desert site dating back to the first dynasty (3150BC-2613BC). Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, confirmed that the find at Abydos is an ancient funeral site located to the west of the River Nile, 450km (280 miles) from Cairo. 

Also read: Explore Ancient Kush as Sudan opens up

The factory traces back to the reign of King Narmer, known for his reunification of ancient Egypt at the start of the first dynastic period. Archeologists found eight huge 20-meter units in length and 2.5 meters in width. Within each unit are 40 pottery basins spread out in two rows and used to heat a mixture of water and grain to produce beer. It is estimated that the brewery produced 22,400 liters of beer at a time. 

The joint excavation was co-led by Deborah Vischak, an assistant professor of ancient Egyptian art history and archaeology at Princeton University, and Matthew Adams, working at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Adams revealed that the factory built in this area supplied beer for royal burial rituals. Archeologists have occasionally found evidence showing the use of alcohol in ancient Egyptian funerary rites. 

Also read: Egypt publicly displays dozens of mummy coffins dating thousands of years

As early as the 1900s, British archeologists were the first to speculate on the existence of a beer factory but were unable to point out its exact location. Abydos is a vast concentration of temples and cemeteries dating from the early times of ancient Egypt. The area has monuments depicting Osiris, who is the Egyptian god of the underworld, and the diety judging human souls in the afterlife. 

The necropolis was also used in ancient Egyptian history, from prehistoric to Roman times. Egypt has been publicizing its recent discoveries to attract more tourists. A team working in Alexandria recently uncovered golden-tongued mummies, thought to have been used by the mummies to communicate in the afterlife. 

Also read: Golden-tongued mummies discovered near Alexandria

The tourism sector had suffered a major setback due to popular political unrest that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak and the global pandemic that has grounded international movement. In 2020, authorities were aiming to increase the tourism numbers from 13.5 million in the previous year to 15 million. By all indicators, it seems this target was not achieved. With the grounding of international flights in March, visitor numbers in 2020 were only 3.5 million. The international monetary fund downgraded their tourism revenue expectations forecast for the 2020 fiscal year from $17.8 billion to $2.7 billion. Egypt is anticipating a strong economic resurgence in 2021 particularly in sectors of the economy hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In January, CNN Travel listed Egypt as one of the top travel destinations worth visiting in 2021. In their description, they argued that the supply of the ancient world is limitless in Egypt. Most of Egypt’s artifacts will get a gleaming new home at the  Grand Egyptian Museum, close to the current pyramids of Giza.