A 40,000 Year History of Mead in Southern Africa

Honey bees

Three ingredients exist inside any honeybee hive, wild or domesticated – yeast, beebread (transformed floral pollen) and honey (fructose and glucose). If combined with water these ingredients produce alcohol. Success depends on an accumulation of pharmacological knowledge, keen observation and an astute but flexible cognitive ability. Archaeological evidence from Border Cave, South Africa suggests that honey bee products were being used and consumed by early people 40, 000 years ago.

In this presentation, Neil Rusch draws on the archaeological record in support of a long-term chronology involving bees and cognitive development. This better explains the early appearance of intentional fermentation. A deep time perspective also accounts for the occurrence of bees in the ethnography, rock paintings and mythology of the region.

The virtual talk will be on Thursday March 4 at 4 PM EDT 10 PM Danish time. Read more and sign up here: https://ceh.ku.dk/news/2021/spring-2021-fermentology-line-up/