Beer

Eight ancient drinks uncorked by science

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: December 15, 2009   View Article

Throughout human history, alcoholic beverages have treated pain, thwarted infections and unleashed a cascade of pleasure in the brain that lubricates the social fabric of life, according to Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

For the past several decades, McGovern’s research has focused on finding archaeological and chemical evidence for fermented beverages in the ancient world. The details are chronicled in his recently published book, “Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages.”

Photos: Ten Environmental Wins of 2009

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: December 8, 2009   View Article

A giant woolly rat found in Papua New Guinea is just one of hundreds of species previously unknown to science that were brought to light in 2009. These discoveries are just one of ten things the environment gained in 2009.

Watermelon Juice May Be Next “Green” Fuel

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 28, 2009   View Article

Watermelon, the quintessential summer fruit, may soon be helping to fuel your car as well as your picnic guests.

According to a new U.S. government study, juice from unwanted watermelons could be a promising new source for making the biofuel ethanol.

Ancient Barley Could Help Farmers Adapt to Changing Climate

Publication: By John Roach   Date: July 27, 2009   View Article

DNA has been recovered from an ancient form of barley that persisted for more than 3,000 years and the tastes of five civilizations in Egypt’s upper Nile, according to a new study.

The barely was particularly well-adapted to the region’s parched climate, allowing it to trump more bountiful but less hardy varieties, according to genetic analyses of the preserved grains.

The finding could assist efforts to breed modern crops that are able to survive a drying climate, noted plant researcher Robin Allaby, an associate professor at the University of Warwick in the UK.

“If we find genes that have evolved to cope with arid conditions, we can then look to transferring those genes, or replicating those genes in modern varieties,” he explained to me in an e-mail exchange.

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Ancient Egyptians Drank Medicinal Wines

Publication: By John Roach   Date: April 15, 2009   View Article

“Doctor’s orders,” the pharaohs may have said with a wink as they took swigs of wine.

At least 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians had begun a long-standing tradition of infusing their libations with medicinal herbs, according to a new chemical analysis of residues on wine jugs.

The earliest written evidence for the practice comes from Egyptian papyri that date to 1850 B.C. The new find pushes archaeological evidence for medicinal wines back to 3150 B.C., the beginning of Egyptian history. The wine jar was found in the tomb of Scorpion I, one of the first pharaohs.

“It makes sense that it is part of this ongoing tradition that eventually starts to get recorded around 1850 B.C.,” Patrick McGovern, an archaeochemist at the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, told me.

McGovern is an expert on the origins and history of drinks that give a buzz. His new book, Uncorking the Past, is due out this fall.

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St. Patrick’s Day Facts: Snakes, a Slave, and a Saint

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 16, 2009   View Article

On St. Patrick’s Day—Tuesday, March 17—millions of people will don green and celebrate the Irish in, and around, them with parades, good cheer, and perhaps a pint of beer.

But few St. Patrick’s Day revelers have a clue about St. Patrick, the man, according to the author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography.

“The modern celebration of St. Patrick’s Day really has almost nothing to do with the real man,” said classics professor Philip Freeman of Luther College in Iowa.

Letting the good times roll in ancient times

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: April 18, 2008   View Article

Summertime fun isn’t a modern invention: Ancient cultures liked to let the good times roll as well. Some celebrated with a few drinks. Others partied hard through the night. There were days at the spa, nights at the theater and time to play a little ball. Learn about seven good times in ancient times.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach