A large number of weakly germinated hulled barley grains was found during archaeobotanical analyses from the early Celtic settlement excavations at Eberdingen-Hochdorf in southwest Germany (ca. 600 – 400 BC). These grains seem to represent deliberate germination, due to the purity of the find and its unusual archaeological context. The possibility of deliberate malting which could be connected with beer brewing is discussed. Recent germination and charring experiments show that the consistently weak traces of germination on the charred subfossil grains from Hochdorf are enough to indicate malted grains. A comparison of the archaeobotanical remains with the written and archaeological sources shows that evidence of beer brewing from excavations is very scarce. There is practically no clear proof of brewing, while written sources and indirect suggestions are abundant. Neither archaeological finds nor either written or iconographic sources give exact details about the prehistoric brewing technology of the early Celts. The archaeological finds from Hochdorf seem to be the result of deliberate malting of hulled barley for the purpose of Celtic beer brewing.
Sprouted barleyBreweryLate Hallstatt/Early La TèneGermination experimentsSouth-west Germany