Beer Gave Us Civilization

Anthropologists are still divided on the details of how humankind made the transition from nomadic hunter-gatherers to settled agriculturists, but Brian Hayden of Simon Frasier University is arguing that the brewing of beer is what caused Near Eastern civilizations to organize themselves and domesticate cereals.

Hayden is moving against consensus here, as most researchers believe that cereals were domesticated for the purposes of baking bread. But he isn’t alone; researchers in Mexico have suggested that local cereals were more suited to making beer than making flour.

Psychiatrist Jeffery P. Kahn speculates that alcohol’s tendency to loosen inhibitions had a major role in changing the social structures of early civilization, which we can believe. After all, it was Homer Simpsons who said, “To alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all our problems.”

[New York Times]

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