In the U. Alcohol problems, both those of individuals and those that affect society at large, continue to impose staggering social and economic burdens. In addition to negatively affecting health, a wide range of social ills including domestic violence, child abuse, fires and other accidents, and other crimes against individuals such as rape, robbery, and assault have all been linked to alcohol misuse. An estimated 20 to 40 percent of patients in large urban hospitals are there because of illnesses that have been caused or made worse by their drinking.
This means that out of every patients in such hospitals, almost half may be there because of their alcohol use. In spite of the severity of the alcohol-related problems, many people do not yet understand that alcohol problems can yield to scientifically-based medical and psychosocial intervention in the same way as other health conditions are responsive to prevention and treatment.
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First Name. Last Name. Thank you for subscribing. Contact Us. Start free E-Courses. Take the Quiz. In each house, usually close to the front door, the excavators found a huge, gallon clay jar sunk into the floor. Chemical analysis—by Zarnkow again—revealed traces of barley and thick crusts of oxalate in the jars.
By B. Beer was such a necessity in Egypt that royals were buried with miniature breweries to slake their thirst in the afterlife. In ancient Babylon beer was so important that sources from B. Adelheid Otto, an archaeologist at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich who co-directs excavations at Tall Bazi, thinks the nutrients that fermenting added to early grain made Mesopotamian civilization viable, providing basic vitamins missing from what was otherwise a depressingly bad diet. And then, of course, there is the other side of the story.
The History of Alcohol Throughout The World
There are the lengths to which people throughout history have gone to go on a bender. Before the Celtic ancestors of the French learned to produce wine themselves, they imported it from the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans. In a wheat field at the end of a winding mountain road in central France, at an archaeological site called Corent, I get a taste of this dependency. My guide is Matthieu Poux, a Franco-Swiss archaeologist with a crew cut, blue aviator shades that match his shirt, and a firm handshake. At Corent, Poux leads some 50 French archaeologists and students who are uncovering the foundations of a major Celtic ceremonial center and regional capital.
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In the second and first centuries B. The town had a marketplace, a temple, taverns, a theater, and hundreds of houses. Around B.
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The evidence, in the shape of shattered clay wine jars, or amphorae, is so abundant that it crunches underfoot as Poux leads me across the site. Archaeologists have uncovered at least 50 tons of broken amphorae here; Poux estimates that tons more remain on the hilltop.
Bending down, he plucks a palm-size chunk of fired clay flecked with black volcanic glass from the dirt and hands it to me. Roman vintners, whose elite Roman clients preferred white wines, tended vast plantations of red wine grapes for the Celtic market; traders moved the wine across the Mediterranean, in ships that carried up to 10, amphorae each, and then sent it north on small river barges. By the time it reached Corent months later, its value had multiplied a hundredfold.
One contemporary claimed the thirsty Celts would trade a slave for a single jar. Wine was the focus of elaborate rituals that cemented the status of the tribal leaders.
16 Times Alcohol Changed History in a Major Way
Things often got rowdy. By paving their streets with the broken jars, Poux says, the rulers of Corent flaunted their wealth and power. By his calculations, the Celts living here went through 50, to , wine jars over the course of a century, the equivalent of 28, bottles a year of expensive, imported Italian red. Worldwide, people age 15 and over average about a drink a day—or more like two if you include only drinkers, because about half of us have never touched a drop.
Millions of years ago, when food was harder to come by, the attraction to ethanol and the brain chemistry that lit up to reward the discovery of fermented fruit may have been a critical survival advantage for our primate ancestors.
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Today those genetic and neurochemical traits may be at the root of compulsive drinking, says Robert Dudley, whose father was an alcoholic. The ancient Greeks were a good example. A crucial part of their spiritual and intellectual life was the symposium fueled by wine—within limits. Mixing wine with water in a decorated vessel called a krater, Greek hosts served their exclusively male guests a first bowl for health, another for pleasure, and a third for sleep.
The mixture spent the night sitting on a table next to his desk, covered by a paper plate. When Zarnkow flicks on the lights, I can immediately see that the slop has come alive, thanks to yeast from the sourdough.
Muddy sediment at the bottom of the pitcher resembles wet muesli. Every few seconds, a large bubble of carbon dioxide percolates to the top through a scummy layer of foam. A translucent gold liquid, resembling the wheat beer brewed in massive steel tanks at the brewery next door, rests in the middle. Zarnkow says the inspiration for the brew came from a 5,year-old song. He and I look at the bubbling pitcher, in my case a little uneasily.
This is much more tasty than warm water filled with microorganisms. The beer is both tart and sweet, bready with a hint of sour apple juice at the end. If I close my eyes, I can almost imagine it changing the world. Read Caption. A Chinese newlywed toasts her guests with a traditional cup of rice wine. The drink has been consumed in China for at least 9, years; a chemical residue found in a jar of that age is the oldest proof of a deliberately fermented beverage.
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But the influence of alcohol probably extends even deeper into prehistory. By Andrew Curry.
Photographs by Brian Finke. This story appears in the February issue of National Geographic magazine.
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