Video #20: Beer in Ancient Egypt with Amr Shahat

Dr. Amr Shahat at his work desk. He is smiling at the camera and wearing blue medical gloves for analysis of residue.
Dr. Amr Shahat analyzing samples

In the twentieth instalment of the Peopling the Past video series, Dr. Amr Shahat discusses plant remains and evidence for beer production in ancient Egypt, including recipes and additives, as well as the impact of beer on personal health.

Amr Shahat is an Egyptian archaeologist specializing in palaeoethnobotany. He earned his Ph.D. from the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, with a dissertation entitled: “Climate Change and the Social History of Food in Ancient Egypt: Between Humanities and Life Sciences.” His research examines the use of plants in the ancient Egyptian diet, as well as in medicine and as resources traded within and beyond Egypt. His work was recently awarded third prize from the American Research Center in Egypt during their 72nd annual meeting, and has been covered by multiple media outlets throughout Egypt and the Middle East (you can find further discussion and links here). 

Interested in learning more? Check out these relevant publications from Dr. Shahat:

Shahat, A.K. 2021. “Climate Change and the Social History of Food in Ancient Egypt: Between Humanities and Life Sciences.” PhD dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles. ProQuest ID: Shahat_ucla_0031D_20092. 

Shahat, A.K. 2019. “An Archaeobotanical Study of the Food in the Tomb of Kha and Merit.” Backdirt, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology UCLA Field Journal. 

Shahat, A., and V. Jensen. 2021. “Biomolecular Stable Isotope and Carbon-14 Dates of Ancient Egyptian Food Offerings: A Case Study from a Provincial Cemetery of Deir el-Ballas.” In The Ancient Egyptians and the Natural World, edited by S. Ikram, J. Kaiser, and S. Porcier. Leiden: Sidestone Press. 

Shahat, A., and V. Jensen. In press. “Social Archaeology of Food at Deir el Ballas: An Archaeobotanical Study of the Non-Elite Cemetery Food Offerings.” In Feeding a Civilisation: Food and Drink in Egypt and Sudan, edited by M. El Dorry. Cairo: Bibliothèque d’Étude, Cairo. 

Berghausen, C., E. Dresser-Kluchman, N. Fernandez-Preston, A. Shahat, V. Slotten, and A. Apodaca. 2019. “Field Starch Extraction from Ground Stone: Experiment and Protocol Recommendations.”  McCown Archaeobotany Laboratory Report #88. Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley. 

A Descriptive Transcript for this video can be found HERE

Further Reading

Hastorf, C. 2016. The Social Archaeology of Food: Thinking about Eating from Prehistory to the Present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Pearsall, D.M., 2015. Paleoethnobotany: A Handbook of Procedures. London: Routledge 

Oliver, G., ed. 2011. The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Samuel, D. 1996. “Archaeology of Ancient Egyptian Beer.” Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists 54(1): 3–12. DOI: 10.1094/ASBCJ-54-0003 

Standage, T. 2006. A History of the World in 6 Glasses. New York: Bloomsbury. 

Wilkins, J., and R. Nadeau, eds. 2015. A Companion to Food in the Ancient World. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 

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