Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationWisconsin, Milwaukee, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9593
Approve DateApril 13, 2018
Project TitleDriscoll, Joshua I., U. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI - To aid research on 'Strategic Drinking: Beverage Shelf-Life and Socio-Political Practice in Early Iron Age West-Central Europe,' supervised by Dr. Bettina Arnold
JOSHUA I. DRISCOLL, then a graduate student at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, received funding in April 2018 to aid research on ‘Strategic Drinking: Beverage Shelf-Life and Socio-Political Practice in Early Iron Age West-Central Europe,’ supervised by Dr. Bettina Arnold. This dissertation tests key assumptions about the durability of prehistoric beer in order to investigate how the production and consumption of alcohol was entangled with social organization and political practice in Iron Age west-central Europe. An experimental archaeological approach is used to test the terminal shelf-life of prehistoric-style beer stored in a variety of vessels. These results are compared to ethnographic and historic models relating beverage shelf-life to politically motivated feasting events and social structure. From this information, hypotheses are generated about Iron Age beer’s entanglement with social organization, and these are compared to published archaeological data from the site of Hochdorf specifically and the West Hallstatt culture more broadly. This project concludes that purposefully tart or sour-style prehistoric beer would have been a durable product in the Iron Age with the ability to be stored in sealed ceramic or wooden vessels for a year or more. This reveals the need to reconsider the relationship between indigenous beverages, like beer, and foreign imported Mediterranean wine as strategic resources for status display and the creation of social obligation. This project also contributes to a cross-disciplinary discussion on alcohol, intoxicants, and society.