I need a beer.
It’s a phrase uttered by many contemporary workers after a long day at the office, but new research shows that ancient cultures were probably using the alcoholic beverage to treat much more than the stress of everyday life.
Anthropologists have found that thousands of years before the 1928 discovery of penicillin, people in ancient Nubia were using beer as an antibiotic to treat everything from gum disease to infected wounds.
It has been known for some time that the kingdom of Nubia, located south of Egypt in present-day Sudan, valued its brewers. More recently, however, scientists began to suspect that Nubian beer may have been brewed to contain more than just alcohol.
The suspicion arose after archeologists unearthed some unusual physical evidence. In 1980, George Armelagos, an anthropology professor at Emory University in Atlanta, led a team that discovered what seemed to be the antibiotic tetracycline in nearly 2,000-year-old Nubian bones.