Archaeology and Beer

Bronx NY-

Archaeology, my other nerdy obsession intersected with Beer on Saturday when I received my copy of the new January/February issue of Archaeology Magazine in the mail. The cover story was labeled “Lords of Peru” but in fact when I went to the actual article the title was “Trophy Skulls and Beer: unearthing the source of an Andean empire’s power” by Andrew Curry.

Archaeology has yielded interesting results for the beer world in the past i.e. Dogfish Head Midas Touch (some statements about the discovery made by Dogfish are unfounded). This time it was archaeology learning something about ancient Peruvian culture. The article centers around practices on the borders of the Wari empire which ruled in Peru from approximately 600-1000 A.D. At the settlement of Cerro Baúl at the top of a mountain in the Andes, “the most critical building…may have been the brewery.”

Curry spoke to archaeologists who stressed that the chica beer brewed at the site would have
been very important for maintaining relations with neighbors. One archaeologist even theorized that the Wari “may have actually wooed local leaders with a potent mix of beer and hallucinogens.” The article goes into much more detail about the structure itself and the keros cups the Wari drank beer from but I would like to leave you with this story of the brewery at Cerro Baúl’s last days in 1050:

After brewing nearly 2,000 pints of beer over the course of more than a week, it seems the Wari held one last drunken blowout at Cerro Baúl. Two dozen or more lords, each raising a uniquely decorated kero, toasted one last time, then smashed their drinking vessels on the floor of the brewery. Then they lit the building on fire and left the mountain top forever.

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