- The earliest evidence for the use of beer comes from GodinTepe in central Iran, where remains of beer were found in a fragmentary jar that dates back to the late fourth millennium B.C. In the ancient Near East, beer was part of the basic nutrition and was apparently consumed at all times in large quantities and as part of the daily rations to laborers. Since only fresh water was used in its preparation, it was a healthier drink than the often polluted water from the canals and wells, as well as being enriched with protein and vitamins and easily digestible. Its percentage of alcohol is not known. Several myths and narratives describe drunkenness among gods and mortals. One creation myth derives the various defects suffered by people, such as blindness and barrenness, as the result of a competition between two inebriated deities (“Enki and Ninhursanga”). Beer was produced mainly from barley. From the pounded grain, cakes were molded and baked for a short time. These were pounded again, mixed with water, and brought to fermentation. Then the pulp was filtered and the beer stored in large jars. Mesopotamian beer could be kept only for a short time and had to be consumed fresh. The cuneiform texts mention different kinds of beer, such as “strong beer,” “fine beer,” and “dark beer.” Other sorts were produced from emmer or sesame, as well as dates in the Neo-Babylonian period and later.Beer was not only part of the rations for workers but was also offered daily to the gods. In the temple cult, it was further used at banquets during the major festivals. See also FOOD.
Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. EdwART. 2012.