Posted in chemistry, education, food

Archaeology brings us tasty beverages!

Actually, I have no idea if it tastes good, it just sounds cool. Imagine drinking a beverage that was also imbibed by people who lived more than 9,000 years ago (sorry kiddies, it’s an adult beverage)?

University of Pennsylvania molecular archaeologist Patrick McGovern discovered the chemical traces of this alcoholic beverage in 2005 (described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) found on pottery in the Neolithic village of Jiahu in Northern China.  Soon after the publication of his work, McGovern called on Sam Calagione at the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Del., to try and create the ancient recipe .  Called Chateau Jiahu, a blend of rice, honey and fruit was intoxicating Chinese villagers 9,000 years ago—long before grape wine had its start in Mesopotamia.

The brewery will also be bottling up the first large batch of Sah’tea for the general public—a modern update on a ninth-century Finnish beverage. Not to leave out the ancient kingdoms of Mesoamerica,

“Dogfish is also bringing back one of their more unusual forays into alcohol-infused time travel. Called Theobroma, this cocoa-based brew was hatched from a chemical analysis of 3,200-year-old pottery fragments from the Cradle of Chocolate, the Ulua Valley in Honduras. Archaeologist John Henderson at Cornell University first described the beverage in 2007 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pushing the first use of the chocolate plant back by 600 years. The next batch—made from a blend of cocoa, honey, chilies, and annatto—will be on shelves and in taps in July.”

More from Scientific American



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.