Beer: A Global Journey Through The Past and Present
by John W. Arthur 2022

About the Author
John W. Arthur is Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg. He was recently named a fellow in the illustrious Explorers Club. He is also a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

About the Book
Beer is and has always been more than an intoxicating beverage. Ancient beer produced in the Near East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas was a food that had a remarkable role in shaping the development of agriculture and some of the earliest state-level societies. Its invention 13,000 years ago was one of the fundamental motivations for the domestication of grains around the world. In early states, the control over the technological knowledge and resources to produce beer contributed to social hierarchies. Beer even likely provided the capital to motivate laborers to construct the ancient pyramids and other large-scale public works. The fermentation of beer also provided a healthy and safe alternative to the contaminated drinking water in early states and it continues to do so among rural Indigenous populations today. Beer is a social lubricant that brings people together and, in many Indigenous societies both past and present, is a gift connecting people to their ancestors. The same innovations pioneered by ancient brewers are transforming the types of ingredients and flavors produced by the global craft beer industry.

In Beer, archaeologist John W. Arthur takes readers on an exciting global journey to explore the origins, development, and recipes of ancient beer. This unique book focuses on past and present non-industrial beers, highlighting their significance in peoples’ lives through four themes: innovating new technologies, ensuring health and well-being, building economic and political statuses, and imbuing life with ritual and religious connections. As this book amply illustrates, beer has shaped our world in remarkable ways for the past 13,000 years.

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“It is only the beer drinkers that survived long enough to reproduce and pass their genes in our direction. Beer has been at the heart of most societies on earth-and this book is an authoritative and fascinating dip into thousands of years of fertile history of the world’s favorite adult beverage.”
— Charles Bamforth, author of In Praise of Beer

“If you’ve ever wondered, as a brewer or beer aficionado, what a brew from thousands of years ago in Africa or anywhere else on planet Earth might have tasted like and how it was made, this is the book for you. John W. Arthur’s globetrotting doesn’t stop in the past as he ventures into remote
villages and tribal conclaves of today and captivates you with traditional beers of all kinds. These brews celebrated life, sustained gods and ancestors, or simply brought a joie de vivre to our everyday life.” — Patrick E. McGovern, author of Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other
Alcoholic Beverages and Ancient Brews: Rediscovered and Re-created

“This wonderful book richly documents the foundational role that beer, and beer-enhanced sociality, has played in human societies around the world for over 10,000 years. Although beer and other chemical intoxicants are too often given short shrift by scholars, Arthur demonstrates that it is
impossible to fully understand the technology, economics, health and nutritional outcomes, ritual practices, or social structures of most cultures without understanding how beer is produced, traded, and consumed. Impressively detailed and comprehensive.” — Edward Slingerland, author of Drunk: How
We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way to Civilization

“A fascinating book that demonstrates the long and complex history behind the world’s most popular alcoholic beverage.” — Kirkus Reviews