3,000-year-old vessel discovered in Pardubice may contain traces of psychedelic beer

Archeologists say the findings suggest that Europe's oldest herbal-millet beer could have been brewed in East Bohemia.


Written by ČTK
Published on 14.09.2021 17:03 (updated on 14.09.2021)

Pardubice, East Bohemia, Sept 14 (CTK) - A 3,000-year-old bronze vessel found in Kladina, East Bohemia, in 2017 could provide evidence that the oldest millet herbal beer in Europe was brewed in the Pardubice area, a research team from the Palacký, Masaryk and South Bohemia universities told a press conference today.

Experts identified remains of millet and bitter herbs in the luxury container, leading them to believe that the vessel may have held an ancient herbal beer with mind-altering properties.

The team of archeologists and natural scientists analyzing the vessel discovered miliacin, a substance considered to be an indicator of millet. They also detected traces of herbs and cooked potato starch.

"We cannot rule out the possibility that the mixture was used to make a bitter mush likely to be inedible," said archaeologist Zuzana Golec Mírová from the Faculty of Arts at Charles University.

Photo of 3,000-year-old vessel discovered by Czech researchers (photo via www.vcm.cz)
Photo of 3,000-year-old vessel discovered by Czech researchers (photo via www.vcm.cz)


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Chemist Lukáš Kučera, from Palacký University in Olomouc, north Moravia, brewed the type of beer contained by the vessel using an ancient recipe.

The basic ingredients were millet, wormwood or ribwort plantain, and wild yeast. He fermented the beer spontaneously in a style similar to Lambic-style Belgian beer, which is traditionally fermented in an orchard.

Kučera said he doesn't know the precise proportion of the ingredients used in the past, and that he brewed the beer on the lighter side, which made it less bitter. Its strong acidic taste is reminiscent of cider.

The beer was fermented near apples for five days, then aged for close to three weeks in bottles, Kučera said, adding that the beverage makes a nice summer refreshment.

Photo of 3,000-year-old vessel discovered by Czech researchers (photo via www.vcm.cz)
Photo of 3,000-year-old vessel discovered by Czech researchers (photo via www.vcm.cz)

East Bohemia Museum head Tomáš Libánek said the beer could eventually be added to the menu of the cafe in Pardubice castle, which houses the museum. The cafe is operated by a local brewer. The restored vessel will go on display in the museum.

The millet beer may have had psychedelic effects, possibly capable of altering one's consciousness. Through it, people may have tried to communicate with gods, Golec Mírová said.

The bronze vessel, found in a sand dune in Kladina, is among the most ornate archeological findings from the Czech lands to date.

"It is beautifully decorated and must have been very expensive and precious," archaeologist Martin Golec said.

"There is a solar barque (a sailing ship) and little birds on it, which is an illustration of the old myth about solar divinity. The barque guides the way that the world should take," he added.

Experts will carry out further analysis of the vessel.

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