Biomolecular Evidence for Early “Nordic Grog”

In many written sources from late Bronze Age up to the Iron Age inhabitants of northern habitable Europe were considered as wild and uncivilized barbarians. One of those aspects rendering them as uncivilized in the eyes of Greeks and Romans were their drinking habits. But what did these inhabitants of the land by the Greeks referred as “Proxima Thule” really drinking? A new study by P. E. McGovern, G. R. Hall and A. Mirzoian published  in the Danish Journal of Archaeology 2013 tries to answer this question by studying residues found on drinking vessels in Scandinavia from Late Bronze Age untill the first century AD. They analyzed residues from drinking vessels found in four Scandinavian tombs the oldest dating 1500-1300 BC and the youngest to the first century AD. As a result the found a mixture of various ingredients for this “nordic Grog” like honey mead, cereals and local fruit wine but also imported grape wine as the basis, to which juniper, birch, pine and herbs (e.g. bog myrtle and yarrow) were added as flavours.

McGovern, P. E., Hall, G. R., & Mirzoian, A. (2013). A biomolecular archaeological approach to ‘Nordic grog’. Danish Journal of Archaeology, 1-20. doi: 10.1080/21662282.2013.867101

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