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The Human History of Alcohol: History of Alcohol in Humans

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Humans are constantly changing the world. We set fields on fire, turn forests into fields, and breed plants and animals. But humans aren’t just reshaping our outer world – we are creating our inner world and reshaping our brains. One way to do this is to upgrade our psychic “software” so that it can talk about myths, religion, philosophy, and psychology.

The second is to change our mental material – our brain. And we do it with chemistry. Today humans use thousands of psychoactive compounds to alter their experience of the world. Many are derived from plants and fungi, others that we make. some, like coffee and tea, which increase alertness; Others, like alcohol and opium, which reduce it. Psychiatric drugs affect mood, while psychotropic substances alter reality.

We change the chemistry of the brain for many reasons and use different substances for recreational, social, medical or traditional purposes. Wild animals sometimes eat rotten fruit, but there is little evidence that they eat psychoactive plants. In our enthusiasm, we become unusual animals and lose our senses while using drugs. But when, where and why did it all start?

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drunk images
Given man’s love for alcohol and drugs, one might assume that intoxication is an ancient, if not prehistoric, tradition. Some researchers even go so far as to say that even prehistoric cave paintings were made by humans experiencing altered states of consciousness. Others, perhaps more motivated by hallucinations than by hard evidence, suggest that drugs have accelerated the development of human consciousness.

Yet there is surprisingly little archaeological evidence regarding the use of prehistoric drugs. The most compelling evidence of drug use by early humans is a potentially hallucinogenic plant! Cache, which is used as an herb that is supposed to drive people “crazy for a while”.

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The implication is that despite Africa’s diversity of plants and fungi, early humans rarely used drugs, perhaps a way of life such that they never felt the need to flee by. themselves.

Exercise, sunlight, nature, time with friends and family – these are powerful antidepressants. Drugs are also dangerous; Just like driving while under the influence of alcohol, it is risky to get drunk when a lion is sitting in the bushes or a hostile tribe is waiting in a valley.

outside of Africa
Humans emerged from Africa 100,000 years ago and discovered new lands and encountered new substances. People discovered poppy hulls in the Mediterranean, and hemp and tea in Asia. Archaeologists have found evidence of opium use in Europe as early as 5,700 BC. Hemp seeds appear in archaeological excavations in Asia as early as 8,100 BC. The making of tea in China dates back to 100 BC.

It is possible that our ancestors experienced substances before archaeological evidence. Stone and clay pots are well preserved, but plants and chemicals rot quickly. We all know that Neanderthals may have been the first to smoke weed. But archeology shows that the discovery and intensive use of psychoactive substances took place mostly late, after the Neolithic revolution in 10,000 BC, when we invented agriculture and civilization.

the invention of wine
A major step in the development of debauchery was the invention of agriculture, as agriculture made wine possible. This created a surplus of sugars and starches, which were crushed and left to rot or ferment, after which it magically transformed into a powerful brew.

Man has independently invented alcohol on several occasions. The oldest wines date back to 7,000 BC in China. Wine was made in the Caucasus in 6000 BC. The Sumerians drank beer in 3000 BC. In the Americas, the Aztecs made a drink using a plant such as today’s aloe vera, which is used today for tequila; The Incas made shisha, a corn beer.

In the Americas where psychedelics seem to be particularly important, Eurasian and African civilizations preferred wine. Wine was the center of ancient Greek and Roman cultures.

(Nicholas R. Longrich, Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology and Paleontology, University of Bath, The Conversation)

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