Finding beer in the archaeological record: A case study from Kissonerga-Skalia on Bronze Age Cyprus

Lindy Crewe, Ian Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whilst use of alcoholic beverages is considered an important feature of most societies, identifying alcohol production and consumption in the archaeological record is notoriously difficult. Presented here is a recently excavated oven-like installation, unique in the Cypriot Bronze Age, from the south-western settlement of Kissonerga-Skalia. The form of this construction suggests that the most likely function was as a drying-kiln, and that one of the primary uses of this structure was for drying malt or curing malt cakes for making beer. The associated architecture and material culture is primarily of types found at Bronze Age sites elsewhere, but when considered holistically allows for extrapolation of some of the less archaeologically distinct aspects of beer production. Important evidence also comes from the well-known 'scenic compositions' found in tombs of the Early-Middle Cypriot Bronze Age, which have been the focus of a great deal of speculation on the nature of the activities shown and the meanings behind the imagery. The new data from Kissonerga-Skalia provides impetus for the re-interpretation of a number of the scenic compositions as narratives of the related activities of producing beer and bread. Furthermore, beer production (and consumption) was an important feature of celebrations, used to foster community cohesion during the Early-Middle Cypriot Bronze Age, but which may have been manipulated to create inequalities during the transition to the Late Cypriot Bronze Age. © 2012 Council for British Research in the Levant.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-237
Number of pages32
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012


  • Beer
  • Bronze Age Cyprus
  • Drying-kiln
  • Malt
  • Scenic compositions


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