History of Beer Before Christianity: Timeline

The the origins of brewing were obscured long before recorded history. For the very earliest period we must use fragmentary physical evidence. But writing provides much more information about later periods in the story of beer before Christianity began.

This is part of a series of timelines

History of Beer Before Christianity.

History of Beer in Early Christianity & Beyond.

Beer History in the 15th Century. 

History of Beer in the 16th Century.

History of Beer in the 17th Century.

Beer History in the 18th Century.

History of Beer in the 19th Century.

History of Beer in the 20th Century & Beyond.

Beer Before Christianity

Cir. 10000 BCE1

Discovery of late Stone Age beer jugs demonstrates that intentionally fermented alcoholic beverages existed at least as early as the Neolithic period.

10000-8000 BCE

• Robert Braidwood suggested that “the desire for beer spurred the rise of intensive farming in the Near East 10,000-12,000 years ago.”
• Anthropologist Alan Eames believes that “beer was the driving force that led nomadic mankind into village life.” He says “It was this appetite for beer-making material that led to crop cultivation, permanent settlement and agriculture.”
• Beer may have preceded bread as a staple.

Cir. 9000 BCE

Chemical tests of ancient pottery jars show that beer was made in what is now Iran.

Fifth Century BCE

Thracians made beer made from rye. They were Indo-European groups living in a large area in southeastern Europe.

Cir. 4300 BCE

Babylonian clay tablets listed recipes for at least twenty kinds of beer. Wages could be paid in beer.

Post cir. 4000 BCE


Egypt made at least 17 kinds of beer. Egyptians believed that their god Osiris invented beer. It was brewed at home daily and was considered a necessity of life. It was also deified and offered to gods.

Cir. 3400 BCE

The world’s oldest known brewery was in Egypt. It could produce 300 gallons per day.

3100-2900 BCE

The residues of an alcoholic barley brew were found in a pottery container in Iran. It was dated to 3100-2900 BCE.

Cir. 3100 BCE

Beer was the beverage of workers and wine was the beverage of the elite in Egypt.

Early Egyptian writings encouraged mothers to send their children to school with plenty of bread and beer for their lunch.  

Cir. 3000 BCE

Beer was just as important as bread in Sumeria. That’s according to the Epic of  Gilgamesh.

Cir. 2700 BCE

Beer was the major beverage among the Babylonians. They also used it as an offering to their gods.

Middle of Third Millenium BCE

The Sumerians thought their goddess, Ninkasi, ruled over brewing. Women were associated with both the production and distribution of beer. In Sumeria’s major city brewing was on an “epic scale.”

2600-2500 BCE

The workers who built the Egyptian pyramids received a daily ration of one and a third gallons of beer. It was about 5% alcohol.

2050  BCE

beer before Christianity
Alulu beer receipt

The “Alulu” Beer receipt was written in Sumeria. The translation is ‘”Ur-Amma acknowledges receiving from his brewer, Alulu, 5 sila [about 4 1/2 liters] of the ‘best’ beer.”

Cir. 2000 BCE

Beer was used for medicinal purposes in Sumeria.

Cir. 1800  BCE

The Sumerian hymn to Ninkasi, goddess of beer, was written down.

Cir. 1728-1686 BCE

Babylonian King Hammurabi decreed a daily beer ration for social ranks. The high priests got five liters per day. The workers got two liters. Hammurabi also decreed that only barley could be used to buy beer. When a saloonkeeper accepted silver instead of barley, he had her drowned.

 When an Egyptian man offered a woman a sip of his beer and she accepted it, they were engaged.  

Cir. 1600 BCE

• Beer was a part of about 100 medicinal remedies in Egypt.
• Flavorings used in beer included balsam, hay, dandelion, mint, wormwood seeds, horehound juice, crab claws, and oyster shells.

Cir. 800  BCE

• Germans were brewing beer .
• Franch were cultivating hop vines.

Cir. Fifth Century BCE

Plato wrote that “He was a wise man who invented beer.”

Cir. 55 BCE

The Romans introduced beer to the rest of Europe during their military campaigns,

Cir. 49 BCE

Caesar toasted his soldiers with beer after crossing the Rubicon.

Cir. 23 BCE

The Chinese brewed beer.


The history of beer before Christianity is a very long one. Its history since then is relatively short. But we know much, much more about the later period.

We’ve learned something about the history of beer before Christianity. Now we explore the History of Beer in Early Christianity and Beyond.

Beer before Christianity.

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1. BCE generally stands for “Before the Common Era.” CE stands for “Common Era.” The term “common” refers to the dates used in the most commonly used calendar. That’s the Gregorian. To some people, BCE stands for “Before the Christian Era.” CE stands for “Christian Era.” The dates of BCE are the same as those of BC. The same is true of CE and AD.

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