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14 October 2018
13,000-year-old brewery discovered in Israel

The earliest evidence of alcohol production has been discovered in the Rakefet Cave in Mount Carmel. Probably a kind of beer made from fermented grains, the brew was produced by the Natufians who lived in the region at that time.
     The Epipaleolithic Natufian culture existed from around 13,050 to 7,550 BCE in the Levant, and was unusual in that it supported a sedentary or semi-sedentary population before the introduction of agriculture. Natufian communities may be the ancestors of the builders of the first Neolithic settlements in the region, which may have been the earliest in the world. Natufians are believed to have founded Jericho, considered by many to be the oldest city in the world. Some evidence suggests Natufian cultivation of cereals at Tell Abu Hureyra in what is now northern Syria - site of earliest evidence of agriculture in the world. The world's oldest evidence of bread-making has been found at Shubayqa, a 14,500 year old site in Jordan's northeastern desert.
     Mount Carmel was one of the most important and crowded areas in the system of Natufian settlements, and sites there and in surrounding areas have been studied for decades.
     Excavation leader Professor Danny Nadel of the University of Haifa: "The Rakefet Cave does not stop offering new discoveries about the wonderful Natufian culture. We have already discovered that they buried their dead and that they lined the graves with a bed of flowers. We discovered their technological capabilities through a variety of tools and now we find that they produced beer and consumed it, apparently at special ceremonies."
     Another finding at the Rakefet Cave site were dozens of craters carved several centimeters deep in the rock. One test revealed evidence of several different grains stored in the same craters, including wheat, barley, oatmeal, legumes, and flax. Other tests showed remains of starch grains that underwent changes corresponding to fermentation, craters used to store grains before and after fermentation, and for crushing and grinding of grains. Remnants of fibers found at the bottom of the craters indicates grains were stored in woven baskets.

Edited from Jewishpress.com (13 September 2018)

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