Ancient Celts drank Greek wine, archaeologists discover

20 June 2019
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The early Celts had their very own twist on getting drunk, according to chemical analysis of fragments from Bronze Age drinking vessels found in what is now France.

The findings, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, shed light on how the drinking customs of these people varied depending on social class and occasion.

It suggests they used both imported and locally made drinking vessels to drink Greek wine and local beer — and while beer was drunk by everyone, warriors drank millet beer while the elites drank ale made from barley or wheat.

The elites tended to be the main ones drinking wine, but evidence suggests craftspeople used wine for cooking, said lead author Philipp Stockhammer of the Max Plank Institute for the Science of Human History.

Archaeologists have long assumed that early Celts, who lived in Europe more than 2,000 years ago, imported Mediterranean wine and ceramics to imitate the Greeks.

But the early Celts had their own drinking customs, Professor Stockhammer said.

The Greeks, who thought beer was really low brow, would have been aghast to discover, as this research has, that the early Celts drank beer out fancy ceramic vessels from Greece.

And while the Greek tradition of wine-sodden feasting was very blokey, previous research has found early Celtic women had social power and drank in the open with men.

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