Human Ecology

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 351-360

First online:

Never Mind the Bottle. Archaeobotanical Evidence of Beer-brewing in Mediterranean France and the Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages During the 5th Century BC

  • Laurent BoubyAffiliated withCNRS-Centre de Bio-Archéologie et d’Ecologie (CBAE)-UMR 5059-Institut de Botanique Email author 
  • , Philippe BoissinotAffiliated withEHESS-Travaux et Recherches Archéologiques sur les Cultures, les Espaces et les Sociétés (TRACES)-UMR 5608
  • , Philippe MarinvalAffiliated withCNRS-Archéologie des Sociétés Méditerranéennes (ASM)-UMR 5140

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This article reports on an example of early archaeobotanical evidence for beer-making in Iron Age South-Eastern France. An archaeological sample from a fifth century BC house at the site of Roquepertuse produced a concentration of carbonized barley (Hordeum vulgare) grains. The sample was taken from the floor of the dwelling, close to a hearth and an oven. The barley grains are predominantly sprouted and we argue that the assemblage represents the remains of deliberate malting. Malt was most likely related to beer-brewing. The neighboring oven could have been used to stop the germination process at the desired level by drying or roasting the grain. Beer-making evidence in Roquepertuse is discussed in the context of the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the Iron Age Western Mediterranean using archaeological and historical data.


Beer Archaeobotany Iron Age Mediterranean Social consumption of alcoholic beverages