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Archaeologists Discover Evidence of an Ancient Egyptian Brewery in a Totally Unexpected Location

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Beer was the “national drink of Egypt” in ancient times.

Employees of the Israel Antiquities Authority work at a site, where fragments of pottery used by Egyptians to make beer and dating back 5,000 years have been discovered in Tel Aviv, on March 29, 2015. Excavation director Diego Barkan said 17 pits were found that had been used to store produce in the Early Bronze Age, from 3500 to 3000 BC. The excavation is the first to offer evidence of an 'Egyptian occupation' in the center of Tel Aviv 5,000 years ago. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Archaeologists searching a construction site set for a Tel Aviv high-rise office building found evidence of a 5,000-year-old Egyptian brewery, suggesting that ancient Egyptians had settled in territory much farther north than previously known.

Israel’s Antiquities Authority said Sunday that archaeologists found fragments of ancient pottery vessels that are believed to have been used to prepare beer, a beverage widely consumed among all age groups in ancient Egypt.

Employees of the Israel Antiquities Authority work at a site where fragments of pottery used by Egyptians to make beer and dating back 5,000 years were discovered in Tel Aviv, March 29, 2015. Excavation director Diego Barkan said 17 pits were found that had been used to store produce in the Early Bronze Age, from 3,500 to 3,000 B.C. The excavation is the first to offer evidence of an "Egyptian occupation" in the center of Tel Aviv 5,000 years ago. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

The archaeological discovery was made in the middle of Israel's largest city. (Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Archaeologists uncovered 17 Early Bronze Age pits that once stored agricultural goods, hundreds of pottery pieces and large ceramic basins.

The basins that were manufactured with organic materials in the ancient Egyptian style were used to prepare beer, Diego Barkan, director of the archaeological excavation said in a statement issued by the Antiquities Authority.

The find was dated to between 3500 and 3000 B.C., the Antiquities Authority said.

A bowl dating to the Early Bronze Age. (Photo: Yoli Shwartz, Israel Antiquities Authority)

“This excavation is the first evidence we have of an Egyptian occupation in the center of Tel Aviv at that time,” Barkan said. “This is also the northernmost evidence we have of an Egyptian presence in the Early Bronze Age I. Until now we were only aware of an Egyptian presence in the northern Negev and southern coastal plain, whereby the northernmost point of Egyptian occupation occurred in Azor.”

“Now we know that they also appreciated what the Tel Aviv region had to offer and that they too knew how to enjoy a glass of beer, just as Tel Avivians do today,” Barkan added, referring to Tel Aviv’s reputation for its lively nightlife.

The Israel Antiquities Authority described the role beer played in the nourishment of ancient Egyptians:

It is interesting to note that beer was the “national drink of Egypt” in ancient times, and that it was a basic commodity like bread. Beer was consumed by the entire population, regardless of age, gender or status. It was made from a mixture of barley and water that was partially baked and then left to ferment in the sun. Various fruit concentrates were added to this mixture in order to flavor the beer. The mixture was filtered in special vessels and was ready for use. Excavations conducted in Egypt's delta region uncovered breweries that indicate beer was already being produced in the mid-fourth millennium BC.

In addition to the brewery, archaeologists found a 6,000-year-old bronze dagger and flint tools.

Construction projects in certain parts of Israel require advance archaeological surveys due to the frequent discovery of ancient objects buried underground.

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