The production of alcoholic beverages is connected to a wide range of activities associated with growing social complexity. Beer production has a long history in the southern Levant, where the first evidence appeared during the later Epipalaeolithic period. However, there is meager evidence between then and the Early Bronze Age period, when advanced regional trade systems developed. To fill this gap, the current paper presents evidence for beer production and consumption based on microfossil analysis of two ceramic strainers unearthed at two Chalcolithic sites: Tel Tsaf (ca. 5200–4700 cal. BC), a settlement site in the Jordan Valley with evidence for large scale storage and long-distance ties, and Peqi‘in Cave (ca. 4500–3900 cal. BC), a burial site in the Upper Galilee. The microfossils (phytoliths, starch granules, yeast cells, and fibers) indicate that both strainers once contained fermented beverages made from Triticeae (wheat/barley), Panicoideae, and Cyperus tubers. These results suggest that beer production and consumption using strainers may have been regularly practiced during different phases of the Chalcolithic, and beer appears to have played an important role in various social settings for communication among social groups as well as between the living and the deceased.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grant 2016/17); the Rust Family Foundation; the Irene Levi-Sala CARE Foundation; the Eurasia Department of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Berlin; and the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa.
The Tel Tsaf research project was conducted under IAA licenses G-43/2013, G-8/2015, G-18/2015, G-46/2016, G-39/2017, G-20/2018, G-45/2019, and G-43/2020. We thank S. Haad for her assistance with the graphics. The Peqi?in cave salvage excavation (license 2297) took place in 1995 on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, directed by D. Shalem, Z. Gal, and H. Smithline. This work was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF grant 2016/17); the Rust Family Foundation; the Irene Levi-Sala CARE Foundation; the Eurasia Department of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) in Berlin; and the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa.
- Alcoholic beverages
- Chalcolithic period
- Peqi‘in Cave
- Southern Levant
- Tel Tsaf
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Human Factors and Ergonomics