Egyptian tomb of royal beer brewer offers peek at ancient traditions

A small group of tourists walk toward the entrance to a tomb in The Valley of the Kings on October 23, 2013 in Luxor, Egypt.
A small group of tourists walk toward the entrance to a tomb in The Valley of the Kings in Luxor, Egypt.
Credit: Getty Images

Anyone who saw “The Mummy” knows you should expect surprises while searching for ancient artifacts in Egypt, but Japanese researchers experienced good fortune in a dig around the necropolis of Luxor.

The Waseda University team discovered the tomb of a royal beer brewer, who served up frothy treats 3,200 years ago, and leader Dr. Jiro Kondo was thrilled.

What have we learned about drinking culture in ancient Egypt?

The owner of the tomb is Khonso Em Heb, who was the chief of the workshop for Mut as well as the chief brewer of the temple of Mut. Probably he was an overseer and controlled daily foods and beer supply to the goddess Mut at the Temple of Mut in Thebes. In ancient Egyptian society, beer was popular and cheap liquor for workers, but also a special sacred drink as the offering to the goddess.

What do we know about the brewer? Was his a very important role?

We did not have any records apart from his titles to say if he was very respected or not. However, he would be a high-rank officer belonging to the temple of Mut.

How important is this discovery?

It is very important in the field of Egyptology, even if we cannot say it is the biggest this century. The find is very encouraging for Egyptian society, but also for Japanese society and tourism.


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