Thursday June 21, 2018

Archaeologists discover a 5,000 year-old beer making room in China

The tools that were recovered from the dig site suggest that early brewer were capable of using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

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Beer bottles. Image source: Wikipedia
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Archaeologists in china have unearthed a 5,000 year-old brewery that had “beer-making tool kits” in underground rooms built between 3400 and 2900 B.C. This old beer making room is at a dig site in Central plain of the China. The kits that were found included things like funnels, pots and specialized jugs, their shapes suggest that they were used for brewing, filtration and storage.

It is confirmed that the brewery is the oldest beer making facility ever found in China. The tools that were recovered suggest that early brewer were capable of using specialized tools and advanced beer-making techniques.

The scientists have discovered a pottery stove which suggests that ancient brewers must have used it to heat and break down carbohydrates to sugar. For instance the underground location must have been used for both storing beer and controlling temperature.

McGovern who is known as the “Indiana Jones” of ancient fermented beverages said “All indications are that ancient peoples, [including those at this Chinese dig site], applied the same principles and techniques do today.”

This 5,000-year-old funnel for beer-making was unearthed at a dig site in the Central Plain of China. Image source: Jiajing Wang/PNAS
This 5,000-year-old funnel for beer-making was unearthed at a dig site in the Central Plain of China. Image source: Jiajing Wang/PNAS

The research team discovered ancient grains in the pots and jugs which showed evidence that they had been damaged by malting and mashing, two key steps in beer-making. On Monday the “recipe” for the 5000 year old beer was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Broomcorn millet, barley and Job’s tears, a chewy Asian grain also known as Chinese pearl barley was included in the mix of fermented.

At last real question is what did this ancient beer taste like? “It would taste a bit sour and a bit sweet” said the lead researcher Jiajing Wang, an archaeologist from Stanford University.

Most interesting fact about the discovery was the evidence of barley in the beer, as they had never seen barley in china this early before. Now barley is very common in China, nobody understands why and when it made its way there.

Barley. Image source: Wikipedia
Barley. Image source: Wikipedia

“Barley was one of main ingredients for beer brewing in other parts of the world, such as ancient Egypt. It is possible that when barley was introduced from Western Eurasia into the Central Plain of China, it came with the knowledge that the crop was a good ingredient for beer brewing. So it was not only the introduction of a new crop, but also the movement of knowledge associated with the crop” said Wang in her email to The Salt.

McGovern in his email writes that Chinese became early brewmaster. They made barley beer in the same period as “the earliest chemically attested barley beer from Iran” and the “earliest beer-mashing facilities in Egypt,” as well as “the earliest wine-making facility in Armenia.”

Wang and Her co-author suggest that beer brewing and consumption might have helped in shaping hierarchical societies in China thousands of years ago.  McGovern also believes that “an exotic ingredient” that elites could have used to impress their friends and stay in power — “much like when we serve up that $70,000 bottle of 1982 Pétrus from Bordeaux” today.

-by Bhaskar Raghavendran

Bhaskar is a graduate in Journalism and mass communication from Amity school of communication, Noida. Contact the author at Twitter: bhaskar_ragha

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In 30 Years Cities Will Face Dramatic Rise In Heat And Flood: Researchers

flooding risks may be coming faster than expected

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A tree art installation made up of individual trees and Hydrangeas is seen in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 22, 2018, to celebrate Earth Day and promote the planting of trees in an effort to combat climate change.
A tree art installation made up of individual trees and Hydrangeas is seen in front of the U.S. Capitol building on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 22, 2018, to celebrate Earth Day and promote the planting of trees in an effort to combat climate change. VOA

In just 30 years, cities around the world will face dramatically higher risks from extreme heat, coastal flooding, power blackouts and food and water shortages unless climate-changing emissions are curbed, urban researchers warned Tuesday.

Today, for instance, over 200 million people in 350 cities face stifling heat where average daily peak temperatures hit 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) for three months of the year, according to a study released by C40 Cities, a network of major world cities pushing climate action.

But by 2050, more than 1.6 billion people in 970 cities will face those conditions, researchers predicted.

The number of people who are both in poverty and battling brutal heat — usually without air conditioning — will rise tenfold, they said.

“This is a wake-up call,” said Kevin Austin, deputy executive director of C40 Cities, at an international meeting in the South African city of Cape Town on adapting to climate change.

“The magnitude of people affected by heat will be (much) greater than today if we continue to increase greenhouse gases at this rate.”

But cities can take action to directly curb the risks, besides working to cut emissions, he said.

In Seoul, for example, a major elevated thoroughfare through the center of the city has been removed, opening up access to the river and lowering urban heat in the area by at least half a degree Celsius, he said.

South Korea’s capital also has planted more than 16 million trees and created shaded cooling centers for those without air conditioning.

hot planet
hot planet, Pixabay

“We want to encourage cities to adopt more of these solutions and implement them as quickly as possible. In the worst case scenario, they will need to do them quickly,” Austin said.

More drought, less water

The research, carried out by the New York-based Urban Climate Change Research Network, looked at data from more than 2,500 cities and predicted likely conditions if emissions continue to rise at their current rate.

It found that Cape Town’s ongoing battle with drought-driven water shortages could become far more common, with over 650 million people in 500 cities — among them Sao Paulo and Tehran — likely to see their access to water reduced by 2050.

Many thirsty cities are already aiming to set caps on water use per person, with Los Angeles pushing for 200 liters a day, Melbourne for 155 litres and Cape Town a dramatically reduced 50, Austin said.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that an average American today uses at least 300 liters of water per day.

Sharing advice on how to make cuts happen — including insights gained in Cape Town, which has slashed its water use by half in the face of extreme drought — can save cities time and help them make changes faster, Austin said.

But more cities “need to transition in a planned way, not in response to disaster,” he added.

Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said dealing with a crisis when it arrives leaves little room to maneuver.

dehydrated, drought
dehydrated, drought, Pixabay

“In a crisis like this there is no time to go by trial and error. You unfortunately have to get it right the first time,” she said at the Adaptation Futures conference in Cape Town.

Power risk from floods

The C40 Cities study also found that by mid-century over 800 million people will live in 570 coastal cities at risk of flooding from weather extremes and sea level rise.

Flooding presents a particular risk to urban power supplies, with many power stations located in flood-prone areas – and everything from transportation to heating and hospitals at risk if power plants flood in cities from London to Rio de Janeiro, the study noted.

Decentralizing power systems – including by getting clean energy from a larger number of smaller power plants – could help cut the risks, researchers said.

But flooding risks may be coming faster than expected.

Patrick Child, the European Commission’s deputy director-general for research and innovation, said a predicted one-meter (3-foot) rise in global sea level, once anticipated by 2100, is now expected by 2070.

Last year already saw the highest-ever documented economic losses from severe weather and climate change globally, he said.

Experts at the adaptation meeting also predicted that extreme weather could bring cascading problems for cities, with flooding, for instance, triggering everything from disease outbreaks to road failures, food shortages and closed schools.

Looking at just one type of problem — such as a health threats from extreme heat, or sea level rise — isn’t enough to capture the risks, said Cynthia Rosenzweig, a climatologist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the authors of the report.

flooding
flooding, Pixabay

“In cities, all of these impacts interact with each other, and are all happening at the same time,” she said.

Solutions also need combined approaches, with engineering efforts to cut flooding, for instance, working hand in hand with things like better protection of flood-absorbing wetlands, Rosenzweig said.

She said she hoped the research would help city officials prioritize what changes need to happen first to better protect their citizens from climate threats.

Also read: Beat The Summer Heat With The Right Drink

In cities “it’s often overwhelming, with so many things to do,” she said. (VOA)