September 17, 2014
Teotihuacan Alcohol Consumption Research
University of Bristol researchers are studying pottery from Teotihuacan to determine if Teotihuacanos drank alcoholic beverages and in what quantity. They have found the residue of fermented maguey sap in vessels sealed with pine resin. They ground up 300 pottery sherds dated from 200-550 CE to find and analyze residues of alcohol making bacterium found in pulque. Because maize was the most important crop at Teotihuacan, the low rainfall and limited groundwater made maize production risky. So the Teotihuacanos grew agave and turned that into pulque. This would have provided them with essential nutrients that are missing in maize, such as vitamin B and iron.
Murals at Teotihuacan may depict scences of people drinking pulque. The team will now study sherds from other areas of Central America for similar residues. The research is posted in the Sept. 15 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Live Science has the report here;