When they excavated Tutankhamun’s tomb, they found a home-brew kit amongst his equipment for the after life. The Scots may be bad, but the Ancient Egyptians were obsessed by beer. Having invented the stuff, they set about producing it in huge quantities: they put up beer halls for the faithful to drink it in; they paid the pyramid builders with it; they wrote poems about it and letters warning their sons of its dangers; they painted people reeling and throwing up because of it; they even had a standard hangover cure — boiled cabbage water, if you care to try it. By the time the Romans arrived they were exporting their amber nectar all over the Mediterranean.
it was not just its intoxicating charm that made beer the toast of the Pharaohs, as Jim Merrington of Scottish and Newcastle will explain during the Science Festival. And he should know: the company is discovering exactly how the Egyptian pint was made - and, more importantly, what it tasted like.
King Tut’s tipple
Home Brewing: Ancient Egyptian Style Research is based on a remarkable site at Armana, just south of Cairo, deserted three thousand years ago. Everything is exactly as it was left, including the drinking vessels, papyrus order books, crumbs and grains strewn over the floors of the 30-odd royal breweries that make up a street right next to the Sun Palace.
By analysing ancient dregs and sweepings, the project’s researchers have not only discovered that Egyptian beer was made with wheat, dates and yeast, but also the exact varieties and proportions. The intention is to produce an exact replica of the stuff. Whether or not it will be a commercial proposition is uncertain at the moment, but it should be fit for a Pharaoh. You might need your cabbage water yet.
Toast of the Pharaohs, Royal Museum of Scotland, April 16, 7.30pm
Whisky, Beer and Sake Production — Ancient Art or Traditional Science? Royal Museum of Scotland, April 16, 6pm
Medicine: what‘s the point?
If there’s one greater mistake than believing in medicine, then it’s not believing in medicine, as Proust said. The leap ol faith required to compose an image of infallible, stethoscope- wielding professionals is likely to receive a good drubbing by the panel at the Good Medicine And Bad forum: hypochondriacs should be warned that the participants’ opinions are not the most reassuring.
Dr Michael 0’ Donnell, Chairman tor the afternoon, barely had time to question the whole concept of health and dismiss the World Health Organisation’s definition of it before
asking ‘lf nature is such a good thing, then why is the history of civilisation dedicated to protecting man against it?’ What people needed, he suggested, were politicians, not doctors. Given that poor people are likely to die ten years earlier than the rich, he may have a point. Doubtless, his statement is no more controversial than the others we’re likely to hear from Professor Sam Shuster and Professor Anthony ‘I left the chair in the studio’ Clare. The ugly side of cosmetics will be discussed and health food iunked by a panel composed of the heavyweights of the medical world, and the forum is set to conclude with the sort of witty and passionate discussion we’d expect from these skilled broadcasters. Disconcerting it may all prove to be, but will it be as disturbing as that moment when you walk into the doctor’s surgery and find, sitting on the other side of the desk, that former medical student you’d last seen vomiting into a saucepan at a party? Best innoculate yourself with a bit of healthy scepticism beforehand. (Stephen Chester) Good Medicine And Bad, Royal Museum of Scotland, April 17, 2-5.30pm. £3 (£1).
EDINBURGH 5; , INTERNATIONAL 3" _ SCIENCE FESTIVAL ;“ b April 10 - 24 $2.19”-
Where else could you: HEAR a 2000 year old Celtic war trumpet?
SEE Chinese dinosaurs and the creation of the universe?
WALK on hot coals or round Edinburgh's very own extinct volcano? LEARN why alcohol is good for you? MAKE DNA ﬁngerprints, radios, gigantic bubbles and boomerangs?
Only at the Edinburgh Science Festival!
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