National Geographic : 2017 Feb
48 national geographic • february 2017 NORTH AMERICA SOUTH AMERICA AFRICA ASIA EUROPE 200,000 B.C . 6000 8000 7000 5000 4000 3000 2000 1000 1000 A.D. 2000 0 5 6 7 8 9 1 2 3 4 5400B.C . 5400B.C.4000B.C.6000B.C. 7500 B.C. 6000 B.C. 7500B.C. 400 0B.C.6000B.C.75 00 B.C. 6000B.C.30 00 B.C. 1000B.C. 1 2 3 4 6 8 9 5 5 7 Zones of early fermented beverage experimentation Exchange of information about fermented beverages Alcohol Through the Ages Emergence of Homo sapiens, who most likely consumed naturally fermented fruits Earliest evidence of alcoholic beverages, at Jiahu, China Barley, rice, and wheat domesticated Grapes domesticated Corn domesticated Earliest evidence of grape wine, at Hajji Firuz, in the Zagros Mountains of Iran Earliest evidence of barley beer, at Godin Tepe, Iran Pepper berry wine ca A.D. 600 The bright red fruit of the Peruvian pepper tree was fermented into a strong wine. Cassava beer ca 4000 B.C . Ancient brewers made a potent drink by chewing the starchy root first; a saliva enzyme converts starch into fermentable sugar. Cacao wine ca 1400 B.C. Mesoamericans drank this fruit wine by blowing air into a pot, then drinking froth and liquid from its top. Potato chicha ca 13,000 B.C. Wild potatoes show up this early at a Chilean archaeo- logical site; today the Mapuche people ferment them into a powerful brew. Corn and the Americas Corn was domesticated around 7000 B.C . Chicha, made from fermented corn, and the drunken feasts it abetted were first chronicled by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Drinking locally, trading globally In early civilizations, fermented beverages were made first from whatever wild plants were available locally and later from domesticated plants. As trade between civilizations grew, technology and techniques for brewing and wine making spread throughout the ancient world. Some 10 million years ago, a shared ancestor of humans and African apes evolved an enzyme that could rapidly digest the alcohol in fermented fruit. That set the biological stage for the past 10,000 years—in which people the world over have made alcoholic beverages by fermenting sugars in all sorts of fruits and even by finding ways to ferment starchy grains and roots. Searching for proof Firm evidence for early consumption of alcohol comes from analysis of ancient chemical residues; the earliest so far is from China. Other dates are estimated from indirect evidence, such as when a plant used to make alcohol first appears in the archaeological record.