“Keltenbräu: Power Drinking in Iron Age Europe”
Recent discoveries from a range of burial contexts in Germany and France have provided archaeologists with new evidence suggesting that Iron Age feasting activity was a more complex and wide-spread phenomenon than has traditionally been thought. Extensive drinking sets made of metal, from gold and silver to bronze and iron, are relatively rare but simpler assemblages consisting of single metal or ceramic vessels suggest that the consumption of mood-altering substances was fairly wide-spread in pre-Roman European societies. Residue analyses of the contents of bronze vessels have produced paleobotanical evidence mainly for honey-based beverages but at least one settlement context has yielded what appears to have been a malting facility used to produce the grain required for unhopped beer. Emerging technologies in the area of proteomic analysis have now made it possible to analyze the contents of ceramic vessels as well as those made of metal, leading to an unexpected discovery in at least one recent study. This lecture will present these new archaeological analyses as well as the potential uses of experimental archaeology in this area of research, which has begun to replicate some of these beverages, providing us with a better sense of the extremely varied flavor-scapes associated with power drinking in the west-central European Iron Age.