Discovered: The Tomb of an Ancient Egyptian Beer Brewer

This week, Egyptologists happened upon the burial plot of Khonso-Im-Heb, the Sam Adams of antiquity.
Supreme Council of Antiquities

Beer, some have argued, helped give birth to civilization. In ancient Egypt, sustaining humans through the vagaries of the hunt and the harvest, it was consumed by children as well as adults. It was drunk by the wealthy and the poor alike. It was an integral part of both religious ceremonies—Egyptians offered their thick, sweet version of the stuff up to their gods—and everyday life. 

So it's fitting that beer brewers ranked high in Egyptian society ... and that they'd have the tombs to prove it. While doing routine cleaning of the burial plot of a statesman in the court of Amenhotep III—King Tut's grandfather—in Luxor, a group of Egyptologists from Japan's Waseda University discovered another tomb: that of Khonso-Im-Heb. He was, apparently, an ancient Egyptian version of Sam Adams, or Adolph Coors, or Mr. Miller High Life: the court's head of beer production. He brewed his ancient suds in honor of Mut, Egypt's mother-goddess.

The beer-brewer's tomb—estimated to be more than 3,000 years old—is T-shaped, Ahram Online's Nevine El-Aref reports, with two halls and a burial chamber. And in the image above, provided by Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, you can see the well-preserved painting decorating the tomb. It features scenes of grain fermentation as well as the finished products being presented in jugs, ostensibly to Mut. According to Jiro Kondo, the head of the Japanese mission, the wall's scenes depict Khonso-Im-Heb himself, accompanied both by family members and various deities.

Khonso-Im-Heb was, in addition to being a brewer, also the head of the warehouse where the beer he made was stored. And his resting place in death is fitting for his role in life: golden-hued and exuberant and intoxicating. As Egypt's minister of antiquities, Mohammed Ibrahim, explains, the tomb features "fabulous designs and colors, reflecting details of daily life ... along with their religious rituals."

Via @pourmecoffee

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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