Friday, November 18, 2005

Archaeologists Uncover Evidence of Female Brewers in Ancient Peru


Science & Technology at Scientific American.com: "The remains of a brewery in the southernmost settlement of an ancient Peruvian empire appears to provide proof that women of high rank crafted chicha, a beerlike beverage made from corn and spicy berries that was treasured by the Wari people of old as well as their modern day descendants. Decorative shawl pins, worn exclusively by high caste women, littered the floor of the brewery, which was capable of producing more than 475 gallons of the potent brew a week.

'The brewers were not only women, but elite women,' says Donna Nash of the Field Museum in Chicago, a member of the archaeology team studying the Cerro Ba?l site where the ruins were found. 'They weren't slaves and they weren't people of low status. So the fact that they made the beer probably made it even more special.'

More than a decade of research into Cerro Baúl led to this finding, which supports Spanish accounts of Incan women--a successor culture of the Wari--as master brewers and weavers. The team's analysis is being published online this week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."