Beer in southern China was drunk during a ritual in honor of the dead: this is evidenced by the data that the authors obtained after analyzing the ancient pots.
Researchers found ancient pots in a platform mound, around which a special moat was dug. No residential buildings were found at the site. The mound contained two human skeletons and many pits with patterned ceramic vessels.
The research team analyzed different types of pottery and found that the pots were small and resembled drinking vessels. Each of the pots could be held in one hand like a cup. Seven of the 20 vessels found had a long neck: similar vessels were used for drinking alcohol in later historical periods.
To confirm that the pots were filled with alcohol, the authors examined the residues from the inner surface. They found granules of starch and phytoliths, as well as yeast – they corresponded to the remnants of beer fermentation.
As a result, the authors found out that ceramic vessels were used to store beer. But this is not the kind of beer you can buy in the store today, but rather a fermented beverage made from rice and unknown tubers. Researchers have described it as a sweet, cloudy drink.
Given that the pots were found in a non-residential area, the authors believe that the beer was used in ritual ceremonies associated with the burial of the dead.