Alcohol History: The Emergence
The first alcohol manufacturing began 10,000 years ago with basic ingredients like yeast and honey. It is believed that alcohol was first discovered way back when the early farmers had recognized the fermentation process of fallen fruits.
It was during 6000 BC when grapevine cultivation came in to existence in certain geographical locations like the Black sea and the Caspian Sea, which was all done for wine production. Around 3000 BC, wine production and its export turned out to be a fruitful business venture for the Egyptians. It was around 1500 BC that Dionysus, the Roman god, made its first appearance in literature and was considered as the god of winemaking apart from grape harvest. It was since then that wine made its significant impact for use in rituals.
Alcohol History of the Ancient Period
Dating back to the 7000 BC, the use of alcohol in China began with the use of honey, fruits and rice and was known as rice mead. Brewing in the ancient Egypt began with the rise of the civilization and it all started around 3400 BC. Egypt has the remains of the oldest brewery on Earth. They used to offer wine and beer to the deities. The Babylonians believed in wine deities and it highly influenced their culture with alcohol around 2700 BC. Around 1700 BC winemaking was popular in Greece which replaced its old counterpart mead which was less somewhat popular. In India, alcohol became popular around 3000 BC- 2000 BC and it was widely known as Sura, a mix of fermented fruits, wheat, sugar cane and rice meal.
History of Alcohol: The Medieval Times
When it comes to the history of alcohol without the mention of the medieval times it is somewhat dull because it is around this era when that evidence of distillations first came in to existence due to the efforts of Greek alchemists. It was around 200 AD when Alexander Aphrodisias made his name in the history of alcohol by openly describing the process of making it. It is Geber’s principles, the father of chemistry, with which alcoholic spirits are still produced. The Germans made their mark in the history of alcohol, in the year 1500 with the “Liber de arte destillandi”, by Hieronymus. In Europe, alcohol among many other uses, found great use in avoiding water-borne diseases due to poor public sanitation facilities.
The Modern History of Alcohol
In the 18th century, laws were passed by the British to produce alcohol with the use of grains. At first gin turned out to be really popular, but soon lost its peak popularity from 1743-1751. The history of alcohol records the use of ethanol as an anesthetic around 1969. It was around the 19th century when the Americans started their own fair bit of alcohol drinking tradition and finally made their mark in the history of alcohol.
Fights against Alcohol: Alcohol History
During the 1700s as the booming era of industrialization began, so did the new culture of consumption of alcohol. To pull a check in the drunkenness that followed shortly, heavy taxes were levied in England while America, one of the large alcohol consuming parts of the world now, tried a failed attempt to ban alcohol completely.
A global status report from WHO in 2004 states that around 2 billion people consume alcohol as a beverage and there are about 76.3 million people who have alcohol use disorders. It also states that alcohol is responsible for 20-30% of liver cancer, cirrhosis, esophageal cancer, epileptic seizures and accidents related to motor vehicles. The 2004 global status report analyzed the alcohol policies of the member states of WHO (118). This report gives an overall view of global and regional sections of the world based on per capita consumption, drinking patterns, means of production and many such criteria. The method used included selection of indicators which included rates of alcohol dependency, traditional beverages or local beverages, unrecorded consumption of alcohol, alcohol related mortality and more. All of these indicators were used in case of each of the 189 countries for which this review was done in the first place.
This report clearly suggests that alcohol abuse is a serious issue in many of the countries that it covered, and the dependency and mortality rates varies along with disease that co-occurs with the abuse. It successfully drew the profiles of all of these countries and based on sufficient proof the results of alcohol abuse could not be overlooked. This report took into consideration the country background information, socio-economic situation, morbidity as well as health related disorders that resulted due to alcohol abuse.
Around 15 million Americans as of now suffer from alcoholism and around 40% of all car related accidental deaths in the US alone involve alcohol. This is quite a big figure to worry about, but banning alcohol is definitely not on their list of agendas anymore.
On the whole, the history of alcohol production and consumption has seen to be on the rise. It is advisable to not overdo ones use of alcohol, and drink sensibility within the limits set by the health care services. If you are planning to drive a vehicle sometime after drinking alcohol, then please ensure that you leave a significant gap to fully sober up and bring your body’s alcohol level down.
Global Status Report on Alcohol – World Health Organization – 2004
Alcohol: A History – Book by Rod Phillips – 2014
Alcohol in World History – Book by Gina Hames – 2014
Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol – Book by Iain Gately – 2009