Scientists brewed beer using yeast from 5,000 years ago

In ancient times, beer was an important component of the daily diet. It also had a particularólne importance and has been attributed great power, especially in relation to religious worship and medicinal properties. It was brewed in ceramic vessels, and just a few of these vessels were found during archaeological excavations at several sites in Israel.

On the walls of the jugs foundów researchers have discovered yeast colonies thatóre settled in nanopores of ceramics. Interestingly, microbiologists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem managed to isolate yeast from clay pottery and je „resurrect”, and the end result of the research conducted is beer, whichóre likely to taste similar to the liquor drunk in Pharaoh’s timeów.

The results of the research team of scientistsów published in „mBio".

– What surprised us most was that the yeast colonies survived in the vessel for thousands of years, as if they were waiting for someone to extract them and start growing them – said microbiologist Ronen Hazan of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of the members of theóin the team conducting the research. – These ancient yeasts allowed us to create beer, thanks to whichórmu we could get a taste of ancient Philistine and Egyptian beer. Incidentally mówishing, beer is not bad – added.

But 5,000 years is too long for yeast to have survived. Researchers explained that direct descendants were found on ancient potteryóin this yeast, so the strain itself is 5,000 years old. – The yeast may have spent at least part of this time in spore formów. Or, when circumstances were unfavorable, comóThe yeasts may have simply gone into a low metabolism mode. Either way, yeast colonies have survived – explained Hazan.

After the yeast was extracted from the pottery and cleaned, the full genome of each pr found was sequencedóbki yeast. In charge of the analysis, Dr. Amir Szitenberg of the Dead Sea-Arava Science Center discovered that these ancient yeast strains are similar to those used in traditional African breweries. They also have a lot of wspólnego of wspólodern brewer’s yeasts.

These particular yeasts, whichóre used to make beer, they came from pottery excavated in four rótion in some places in Israel. The age of the oldest of the jugsów was estimated to be around 3,000. p.n.e.

In the preparation of beer helpedóhead of scientists Israeli expert Itai Gutman. – I remember the first time we had to taste beer, we were sitting at a table. I said at the time that either the beer would be good, or we would all die in five minutes – said Aren Maeir of Bar-Ilan University, one of the members of theóIn the research team.

One of the jugsów, at whichóre whose walls ancient yeasts were found. Photo. Yaniv Berman/Israel Antiquities Authority

As it turned out, they all survived. What’s more, the beverage was highly rated by certified tasters from the International Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). However, the authors of the study admitted that the beer is probably similar in taste, to beers from the time of theóin Pharaoh’sów, but it doesn’t taste exactly like those liquors. Only a few old strains were isolatedóin the yeast, and the brewing of the beer used coólmodern ingredients and techniques.

But beyond the marketing ploy and the production of beer, które perhaps drank by the pharaoh, the research had a deeper purpose. Scientists have shown that it is possible to isolate microorganisms (in this case yeast) from ancient pottery. – Our research offers new tools for studying ancient artifactsów – stressed Hazan, and added that this will provide insight into the diet, habits and daily life of ancient people.

From the very beginning, the concept of the research was that the colonies of the microorganismów isolated from the environment can survive, whether by sporulation (a process in which theórym endospores, or spore forms of bacteria, are formed), or by metabolizing at an extremely slow rate, over thousands of years, and the microscopic descendants of the original microbesóin can shed light on how people lived in ancient times.

Hazan explained that the yeast used to ferment the liquidóin ceramic vessels colonized the pores of ancient containersów. While civilizations have risen and fallen around theół them, yeast colonies have survived for millennia in their ceramic homes. They were buried underground, but occasionally revived under the right circumstances, such as when it rained.

It is likely that a large percentage of ancient ceramics have yeast or bacterial colonies, whichóre were used not only to make beer, but also other fermented productsóin food. Thanks to a method developed by Israeli researchers, they may lead to many fascinating discoveries.