In my blog post titled “What is mead?” I briefly went into the history of mead. One of the most interesting parts about owning a business is that you get to hear all of the interesting curiosities that your patrons throw at you when you are serving them. One of them asked about Egyptian-based meads. I told him I really did not know that much and that it would make for a great article. So here we are.
Ancient Egyptians were avid practitioners of fermenting, so much so that large industrial areas were found that were solely for making fermented beverages, not only beer…but mead. Arp was the Egyptian word for mead as well as wine and within the definition there is some reference to honey being a primer for wine and beer. There are scholarly articles that reference hymns referring to fermentation and Min, the Goddess of Fertility, as being the master of wild bees. There were also bee hunting parties created by royal families to harvest bees…the very birth of what we know today as beekeeping and the creation of apiaries.
Now the question still remains: how did ancient Egypt come to know about mead? Besides finding mead in the tombs, the climate of the delta region would have been the perfect place to accidentally stumble upon some of this elixir while in the midst of hunting. Honey would have been plentiful and easier to come by and wild yeast was (and still is) very widespread. Mix some water from the Nile in an animal skin and you have yourself a great drink that the hunting party can enjoy on the way back (of course they did not know it would not take much to feel the effects of this amazing beverage).
I was really hoping to find some more information on any types of mead that Egyptians may have been avid producers of but, alas, it seems that we are still deciphering the language of old and studying samples of residues so we are still not sure what they would have put into it (unless I missed something). We do know that it existed and we drink it to this day, so that will be good enough for now.
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