You’ll see in the Myths & Legends section that mead has a long and romantic life in the stories of many cultures. However, it’s always nice to be able to back those stories up with some sort of documented evidence. We’ve decided to dig through books in the Literature section, and devote this section to archaeological and/or physical evidence that mead was used and made in history.
Obviously, if you know of, or are involved in, a project that lends evidence to this, we’d *love* to hear from you, and if possible, publish a link to your article or reports. If you happen to *be* a historical mead enthusiast, and would like to have space here to show what you’ve found, please drop us a line, and lets talk!
Most people have heard of King Midas. Well, the University of Pennsylvania, after 50 years of research in Gordian, Turkey discovered and cataloged the tomb of the original Goldfinger. Seems the funerary feast had many delicacies (he *was* a king and it’s *good* to be king), and included, of course, mead! Read all about it here. You can even see recipes for the feast, including his Golden Elixir. Here is the recipe which was backwards engineered from the research:
Ingredients: yellow muscat grapes, lightly toasted 2-row barley malt, thyme honey, saffron. Fermented on a dry mead yeast to 7.5% alcohol by volume. It has a brilliant golden hue, with reddish highlights, as if touched by Midas himself!
Constanze Witt, of the University of Virginia did her dissertation on Barbarians on the Greek Periphery? Origins of Celtic Art, including a section on drinking and banquets. Mead is mentioned peripherally, and the information is fascinating for its insights into Greek and Roman influences on the Celtic culture, possibly illustrating some of the spread of mead as a drink.
The Hochdorf site contains material from the late Hallstatt period through the transition to La Tène and into the La Tène period proper. Beginning in 1968 the volunteer representative of the Landesdenkmalamt (State Antiquities and Monuments Office) Baden-Württemberg, Renate Leibfried, kept coming across stone fragments plowed up in the field. Thanks to her alertness, the Archaeological Preservation Office took a closer look at the discovery site and identified what had formerly been a large burial mound. Due to the acute danger from agricultural use, the burial mound was completely excavated during the years 1978 and 1979 under the leadership of Dr. Jörg Biel of the Landesdenkmalamt (State Antiquities and Monuments Office) Baden-Württemberg. The digging was carried out with the most modern research methods then available. The relatively late discovery of the princely burial would become a fortunate exception for archaeological research. Many items were found here, and the dig is still ongoing. Of particular interest are an enormous bronze cauldron of Western Greek manufacture; it was filled with mead. They also found nine drinking horns.
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