Monday, January 20, 2014

Khonso Em Heb

Catching up on my non-school readings, I stumbled into this article a few minutes ago.

It appears that a Japanese team of archaeologists stumbled on to the tomb of an ancient beer-maker  while cleaning the courtyard of another tomb at the Thebes necropolis in the Egyptian city of Luxor.

While I am not a Egyptologist,  I know enough to say this discovery is pretty significant. The tomb, sealed for centuries, has not succumbed to the elements or, perhaps more importantly, looters.  Such conditions now give archaeologists a chance to study, in a sense, "unaltered Egypt."

The tomb, decorated in elaborate frescoes, apparently belongs to Khonso Em Heb. As head brewer, it appears his job was to brew beer for the gods of the dead.  

It is probably important to add that the beer 'ole Heb was brewin' in 1,000BC was likely quite a bit different than the stuff we enjoy today.  Hops, a significant ingredient in today's brews, was not actually a part of beer until the Middle Ages or so.  History shows that the Europeans were the first to brew with hops.

Heb's stuff was basically fermented barley with a head so thick that the drinker had to use a straw which apparently acted like a filter as well.  (Ancient Sumerian tablets actually show this! Check out the image below.)  Impurities were rampant as the science of brewing was not known at the time.  

The Egyptian stuff is also thought to have been syrupy and low in alcohol.  In fact, it was used as wages for the pyramid builders.  

So it will be interesting to see what happens with this discovery.  I wonder if one can secure, somewhere in Egypt, a modern version of this ancient drink. I suspect so.  To be honest with you, it sounds a bit like Budweiser..... other words, not very appealing......

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Because I have nothing better to do right now...found this tidbit on an Egyptian translation webpage.

Khonsu-em-heb translated: