Drinking Alcohol began way ahead of any written history

Drinking alcohol or rather consuming fermented fruits and beverages have been part of evolution, historians and anthropologists have noted earlier, and we have written about it in our earlier article Did the homo sapien settle down just to drink beer peacefully? Research indicates the possibility, in this article we take a peek into the pre-historic and classical era history of alcohol and the role it played in civilisations to come.

Although a credible time frame of when alcohol was first fermented could not be found, it be safely said that it was the result of an accidental consumption. The beer jugs found in Neolithic excavation sites prove that human brewed alcohol dates back to almost 10000B.C.

In fact, historians believe that fermented alcohol may have preceded bread as staple.

Cretan Neolithic Jar - Wikimedia Commons
Chinese Wine Pot - 4th Century BC - Wikimedia Commons

Ancient China and its history of pútáojiu and huangjiu

In China, alcohol has been produced and consumed since prehistoric times. The jars found near China’s Yellow river basin, Jiahu, suggest that the existence of alcohol might date back to the period between 7000 and 9000 BC.

Earlier, it used to be a kind of rice beer produced from fermented rice, and fruits. Later, when Northern Yellow River Civilisation evolved ,a kind of fermented millet named huangjiu became staple.

Alcohol or to be precise beer was divine elixir for the ancient Chinese

Unlike the Levantine, Middle Eastern and European Civilisations, the Chinese Civilisation abandoned grape wine pretty early, they produced and widely consumed pútáojiu ( rice beer ) and huangjiu ( millet beer ).

In china alcohol was considered medicine prescribed by the heavens. The ancient Chinese considered huangjiu a divine drink and not for mere material pleasure. They consumed it in memorial services,  offered it as a sacrifical elixir to the ancestors and gods, they consumed it before a war, in oaths , in victory  and births, marriages, departures, deaths and literally, the ancient Chinese happily drank away on every occasion it seems, and why not? wine, after all, was a divine providence from the heavens!

Eastern Han Dynasty Pottery
Pictorial Brick Depicting Wine Making in 25-220 CE China

The lucky ancient Chinese were requested to drink by an imperial edict back in 1116 BCE

From the excerpts of an 1116 B.C imperial edict, historians found that the Chinese people were told to consume alcohol in moderation as it was prescribed by Heaven. This order was clearly beneficial to the emperor̵;s treasury.

Alcohol was considered to be the biggest source of income for the treasury. Marcopolo in his 14th century travelogue, had also mentioned that the Chinese people drank rice and grain wine daily and this was the biggest source of income for the kingdom̵;s treasury.

Wine making played a pivotal role in Han economy, wine makers and taverns were the most commonly found businesses across Han Dynasty cities.
In this brick a wine maker and his assistant are seen in the centre, the wine maker is stirring a cauldron while the assistant fans the fire. The bottom of the brick shows a filtering stove with urns for the wine, to the left a wine seller stands with a cart full of wine jars.-

Photo of a pictorial brick excavated at Pengshan, Sichuan Province, depicting wine making circa 20-220 CE, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Distillation in the Han Dynasty

It is said that the Chinese may have independently developed the distillation process during the rule of Eastern Han Dynasty, in the early centuries of the Common Era.

The photo of a Lacquered Wooden Wine from the Han Dynasty Circa CE 4 is evidence to that.

LAquered Wood Wine Cup from the Han Dynasty Circa CE 4

Please Note All Recipes and Articles on this site are for entertainment and general information only. None of it is to be considered final or absolutely correct or medical in nature.

All photos used are representative and don't reflect the actual look of a cocktail. Photos sourced from Free Photo Sources, FreePik and Unsplash.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *