Monday, December 10, 2007

Uncovering the Secrets of Ireland's Ancient Breweries
The odd mounds have long mystified archaeologists. Experts agree that the sites, usually located near streams, were likely used for boiling water, but excavations have yielded little more. Were they vats for dying clothes? Proto-saunas? One long-standing theory suggests they were used to boil meat — not an unreasonable notion, since fiadh can refer to deer. But few animal remains have been found near the holes, contrary to what might be expected around prehistoric kitchens.

Quinn believes that his theory, published recently in the journal Archaeology Ireland, is supported by the circumstantial evidence. Even for Bronze Age inhabitants, who lacked metal cooking vessels capable of withstanding fire, ale would have been easy to make.

This is the kind of applied archaeology most archaeologists can get into.