The first written language was called Cuneiform (3000 BC), and yes they had a symbol for beer.  Beer and barley were some of the earliest commodities that could be bought, sold or more likely bartered for.  It is believed that written language was created as a way to track the exchange of these commodities.  Ancient Sumerian peoples had more than 160 words related to beer.  Since the Agricultural Revolution, many other cultures have come up with their own words for beer.  Some of my personal favorites are beer, bier, pivo and cerveza.  But nothing beats the Egyptians that used the symbols for beer and bread to mean a meal.


The rise of written language allowed individuals to use commodities such as beer by being able track who was paid and who was owed.  Ancient beer was a vital source of nutrition.  Laborers building the pyramid were paid about a gallon of beer a day or about 231,414,717 gallons a pyramid.  Frequently the laborers were given a chit that was worth a certain amount of beer.  Very similar in concept to modern debit cards they could use the chit at the equivalent of a modern bar or store.

The tradition of paying in beer comes up throughout history, and today employees of breweries are still partially compensated with beer to drink both at work and to take home.  Beer has played an integral role in building society.

Keep checking back as I continue to look at beer in pivotal moments in history.




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