Cities first emerged in Mesopotamia, the area of land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers located in what is now known as Europe. The people who lived here who were not farmers lived urban lives where people bartered with goods and wheeled vehicles lined the streets. Like in Mesopotamia, in Egypt, beer was associated with old and mythological origins. Both saw beer as a “god-given drink that underpinned their existence, formed a great part of their culture and religious identity, and had great social importance.” Egypt was another large civilization at the time and was considered to be because of its agricultural surplus of grain which was “the basis of the national diet.” Grain was an “edible money” in either bread or beer for the two civilizations. For example, the workers who constructed Egypts Giza Plateau were paid in beer. The state had collected the grain and then refunded it out to “instill a sense of unity.”
The recorded history of beer started in 3400 BCE, and it soon became clear how beer was a staple in almost all cultures, being the thing that differed humans and savages. The earliest written documents include a symbol for beer and explain that the grain used to make it was fundamental in creating a more complex society of buying and trading beer for services. As society evolved, tax receipts morphed from tokens into tablets of wet clay, which were the first form of permanent documentation. These documents contain a pictogram in the style now known as cuneiform that represents beer, showing how important it was to life circa 3400 BCE. It’s so important because in addition to being a currency, it also has a link to health because it was used as a mild sedative in Egypt. Egyptians also believed that a happy afterlife was tied directly to their supply of beer and bread. Someone poor would be buried with little beer while someone wealthy would be buried with a lot of it.