5000-Year-Old Sumerian Pub and Beer Recipe Unearthed

5000-Year-Old Sumerian Pub and Beer Recipe Unearthed

Archaeologists have unearthed a Sumerian pub in Iraq dating back to about 5000 years ago. Among the remains, there is also a tablet with a beer recipe.

The discovery was made in Lagash, an ancient city-state in southern Iraq, by a team of archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania in the USA and the University of Pisa in Italy. Examining the remains, the team reported that they thought the pub was around 5000 years old.

Located approximately 330 km (205 miles) southeast of Iraq’s capital Baghdad, Lagash is one of the oldest city-states in the Ancient Middle East.

At the site they excavated, the archaeologists unearthed remains of a refrigeration system, kitchen utensils such as serving bowls, an oven for cooking, benches for eating, and tablets. They also found fishbones and animal bones in some bowls.

Photo: Asaad Niazi/AFP/Getty Images

It is estimated that beer was also consumed in the pub, although analyzes continue. Because, for the Sumerians, beer was more common than water, says Holly Pittman.

ancient sumer, sumerian people, pub, tavern, Iraq
Pottery shards
Photo: Asaad Niazi/AFP/Getty Images

Archaeologist Holly Pittman of the University of Pennsylvania said that the most common beverage consumed by the Sumerians was beer. She also stated that a tablet with a recipe for beer was found in a nearby temple.

The unearthed finds show that ordinary people could have a snack and a drink in the pub around 5,000 years ago. Therefore, the discovery is expected to hold clues to the lifestyle of middle-income people living in Southern Mesopotamia during the Early Bronze Age.

Fertile Crescent and First Cities

Southern Mesopotamia, now mostly desert, was formerly part of the Fertile Crescent. The region was rich in grains and legumes during the Neolithic Age. Also, many crops were first domesticated by farmers in the Fertile Crescent.

It is estimated that agriculture arose in the Fertile Crescent about 12,000 to 10,000 years ago.1
Photo: Sémhur (Wikimedia), ©CC BY-SA 1.0

The settled lifestyle and raw material surplus that emerged with the agricultural revolution led to the emergence of the first cities and states. Most of the Early Near Eastern civilizations such as the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians originated in this region.

Analyzes Will Continue

It was stated that the analysis of the samples recovered by the archaeologists at the excavation site will continue.

Project director Holly Pittman replied in an e-mail to ULUKAYIN whether there was any trace of whether wine, liquor or other local spirits were consumed:

“Only beer and even that awaits analyzes.”

  1. “The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory”, Graeme BARKER, OUP Oxford, 2006, ISBN: 9780191557668^
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