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Original Microbrews

From Egypt to Peru, archaeologists are unearthing breweries from long ago

11:28am, September 28, 2004

Beer is nearly as old as civilization itself. It's mentioned in Sumerian texts from more than 5,000 years ago. Starting in the 1950s, scientists have debated the notion that beer, not bread, was actually the impetus for the development of agriculture. Nearly every culture around the world has invented its own local concoction. Historically, brewing was a home-based operation, as part of the preparation of meals. From South America to the Middle East, beer production grew in scale with the rise of organized societies, scientists theorize, and later became primarily a function of the state. Beer was given to laborers or soldiers, incorporated into religious ceremonies, and drunk by politicians at state functions.

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