A history of the world in 6 glasses

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 29 April 2016

A history of the world in 6 glasses

AP World 15-8-13
A History of the World in 6 Glasses
150,00 years ago, water had been the basic drink that mankind drank. Nomads would rely on water to survive, however, water had many pesticides and impurities that caused people to become sick and die. Beer was the first staple beverage in civilizations. It became important to all aspects of ancient life, social, religious, and economical. As civilizations began to brew beer it led them into a more modern world. Beer transitioned the nomadic life of early people to a stationary life. Beer was not invented though, it was simply a mistake that was waiting to he discovered. As nomads began to settle and harvest grain, it became a major staple in their diet. Storing was difficult to store in a way where it would stay safe for consumption. A popular porridge dish called gruel was a very common meal made with cereal grains. When left out, a chemical transformation would take place converting it into beer. Once discovered, beer was brewed constantly, improving the taste.

Beer played a large part in the development of civilizations; it brought people together to share drinks and showed hospitality and familiarity. Beer was also very important in religion. This is because the process that converted gruel into beer was believed to be a gift from the gods. The finest and sweetest brews would be offered to gods as thanks. In Egypt, many people believed that Osiris, the god of the afterlife and agriculture, discovered beer. Therefore, beer was used as an offering in the afterlife and was buried with people when they died. As time went on, beer was not only a drink, but also a sign of being civilized and human. When beer was drunk, it showed that a person was sophisticated. As time progressed and people and civilizations became more advanced, beer was used as currency. Men, women, and children were granted amounts of beer as pay. Beer was also believed to cure illnesses and was often used as medicine and prescribed as antidotes. Beer was not only a simple drink, but also a drink that shaped civilizations and advanced lives.

When nomads began to slowly transition from gathering to agricultural driven civilizations, life was hard to adapt to. What made nomads begin to settle down? Tom Standage believes that once beer was discovered and many people started to grow grains needed for brewing, people settled down in order to gather the grains and replant them. The change was not immediate; it took place over a couple thousand years. Because beer was such a major role in the life of ancient people, it made sense to stay around and continue growing grains. Grain takes a long time to grow and it cant be grown and harvested in a couple weeks, so nomads slowly began to wait for the grain to be grown so more beer could be made. Also Standage makes a point, that since the first civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent, the land and soil was rich and full of nutrients.

The growing of grains was not the only part of beer that helped transition the nomads to a stationary lifestyle, it was also the fact that once beer was made, it was very difficult to store. And the complete fermentation process of beer takes approximately a week; it would require people to stay in one place for a significant amount of time. While beer-making may not have been the only factor that transitioned people from a traveling lifestyle of hunting and gathering to a static, agricultural lifestyle; it played a large part in the transition and influenced greatly the civilizations to come.

Wine, an exotic drink, so expensive only the very elite could afford to drink it. The definition of wine has greatly changed over thousands of years. It was mainly religiously used because of its very expensive price and it was said to be worthy for consumption by the gods because it was so scarce and costly. Greece was the first civilization to begin drinking wine. Since wine was imported from Mesopotamia, it was very expensive. However, as wine became a more popular drink it was produced in larger amounts. Wine was made with grapes, but that was very expensive and only a small exclusive group of people could afford to drink it. So wine began to be made with other fruits, a very popular substitution was dates. Slowly, the production of beer grew to where it was a drink everyone would regularly consume, no matter ones social status. It was slowly taking over and overshadowing beer, even in Mesopotamia. Wine became a very political drink.

There were often special events held for men to converse and drink wine. The production and drinking of wine spread to Rome and began to influence the people there too. Not only did wine spread to Rome, but often the best wines ended up in Rome. When Kings and people of noble blood became ill, doctors would flock to prescribe remedied to cure them. A common remedy was wine. A very rich and expensive wine would be ensured to cure many sicknesses. Wine changed many customs and influenced many people. The popularity of wine spread like a grapevine, touching and affecting many aspects of Greek and Roman civilizations.

Greeks strived on being superior over foreign civilizations. They were always ahead of other lands, always more civilized and more advanced. The love of wine was apparent for Greeks. It was so large that there were often many wine drinking parties, or symposion. Symposion were formal gatherings where large groups of approximately thirty men would gather and drink wine and discuss intellectual matters and politics. The civilized atmosphere of a symposion showed Greeks how civilized they were and how advanced they were compared to barbarians who did not meet with the standard of Greek people. In a symposion, only men were allowed. They often were held in special rooms called “andron” that were beautifully decorated, with paintings on the walls and wine drinking murals. While there were no women allowed, they would be permitted for entertainment purposes, such as dancing and singing. Women were considered to be lower than men and were not as important. Women did not have the same privileges and were treated poorly because of their gender.

However, even if those traditions seem unfair, that was the way women were treated and it was accepted. Men were able to do whatever they pleased and could become great philosophers or political figures, whereas women generally had to stay home and take care of any chores. Rights for women have come a long way and while there still maybe some disparaging against women, it has become apparent that women are capable of anything men are.

Distillation has forever changed the way drinks are made. Distillation is most commonly used with drinks, to change the chemical balance in drinks. By distilling wine, it changed the content of the drink. When wine is distilled the alcohol content becomes much larger. The beverage that resulted from distilling wine was very obscure, not many people understood the reaction that took place. In the Age o Exploration, European sailors enjoyed the drink immensely. It was compact to be able to carry around and store on the ship. As the popularity of distilled wine spread, it made its way to Europe. While the creation of this beverage may have been a mistake, it turned into a daily drink that became more widely drank beverage. Arab scholars who discovered the drink, however still regarded it as alchemical ingredients or a medicine, it was never intended to become an everyday drink. Distilled wine was suppose to cure many illnesses and cure people from diseases and give them strength, which is where the term aqua vitae came from.

It means water of life. Slowly, it became more of a recreational drink instead of a medicine due to the factor that it could intoxicate people in a very short amount of time. Aqua vitae was very new in Europe, but quickly became very popular due to the fact that in the cooler regions of Europe it was very difficult to make wine and expensive to import. So Europeans began to distill beer, which made it possible for them to make strong drinks with ingredients that were local to them. Slowly more and more strong alcoholic drinks were being made. A very popular one among sailors was rum. Rum became the drink of the American Revolution and of the colonial period. Just as quickly as it had come, a new drink replaced rum. Whiskey. Since the war disrupted the production of molasses, which was key in the production of rum, whiskey became easier to produce.

Whiskey was made using cereal gains, such as barley and wheat. Whiskey became a form of currency, so popular, that even clergymen were paid using whiskey. Strong alcohol changed the course of history and affected the use of slaves, farming, and wars.

Religions have many different customs, from beliefs, to practices, even restrictions on food and drink. Wine drinking was closely associated with Christian faith. One of the main reasons wine drinking remained prevalent to the culture may pertain to the fact that the first miracle of Christ was converting six jars of water into wine at a wedding. Also, Christ referred to himself as being a vine and all his followers are the vines of that plant, which closely tied the importance of wine to the Christian faith. Wine continues to be a large part of Christianity, now wine symbolizes Christ’s blood. While wine plays a major part in Christian faith, drinking is an abomination of the Muslim religion. Drinking was prohibited in Muslim belief, and drinking, while illegal and prohibited, drinking was regarded differently in regions of the world. Some cities rigorously enforced the ban on drinking while others allowed a small, week drink of wine from time to time.

Drinking was originally banned because of a fight that occurred. Muhammad’s disciples once engaged in a fight after a drinking party, one of the disciples, a prophet, wanted guidance on how to prevent arguments from beginning. The prophet was told that wine and games come from Satan and to avoid fights, one must sustain from engaging in drinking. From then on, drinking was considered an act against religion. Every religion is different, and has different beliefs and customs, no matter how similar religions may be. Christianity proved how important wine is to the religion, while being Muslim meant the opposite, so sustain from drinking showed dedication to religion. Just because religions are different does not mean one is better than the other. It proves how important drinks can be to religions.

Since the invention of the beer, drinks with alcoholic quantities have been important in daily life. Many beverages were considered to promote health and was a symbol of intelligence. However, as time progressed, that was no longer the case. There were many advancements in the field of knowledge, new European scholars began to question the authenticity of Greek philosophers beliefs. One of the major changes was scholar’s choice in beverage. Long ago, wine, beer, and whiskey were commonly drunk and were believed to be the drink of great thinkers and advanced people. But slowly, new researchers experienced the cloudiness that drinking alcoholic beverages brought on. So people turned to a new drink, coffee. Coffee was, and still is a drink that promotes clarity of thought, alertness, and sharpness. Now scientists, philosophers, and intellectuals began to consume coffee to ensure alertness while working.

Coffee was served in calm environments where polite conversations were encouraged. Coffee provided a social gathering forum that was important for education and self-improvement. Coffee was fist introduced in Europe, while other civilizations around the world were still drinking wines and beers, even in the early morning a week wine or beer was served in most regions all over the world. Coffee drinkers proved to be more alert throughout the day than people who drank wine and were more relaxed. However, coffee proved to be a controversy among people. Coffee was argued to be an intoxicant. Muslims’ especially debated whether the use of coffee should be legal due to its stimulant qualities.

Coffee however proved to not produce any intoxicating qualities, so no ban could be placed on the usage of coffee. Slowly coffee houses were opened everywhere, spreading all over Europe. Within less than a hundred years, the exotic luxury of coffee was becoming commonly sold. As coffee houses opened, they became a major place for discussion, political discussion, and gossip. Coffee houses were only allowed for men, women were not permitted to enter and engage in conversations in coffee houses. The significance of coffeehouses became apparent in London as it consumed more coffee than anywhere else in the world. Coffee took the world by storm. Waking up and alerting everyone who had been in an alcohol induced slumber for the past hundred years. Throughout the speculation, coffee proved to be vital to the daily operation of philosophers and great thinkers.

Coffee not only affected the brains of the people, but also the civilizations that surrounded the coffee craze. London was in the middle of the Financial Revolution, but in France, a new kind of revolution was about to begin. Philosopher, Francois-Marie Arounet de Voltaire, was extending scientific beliefs of rationalism into the social and political beliefs. Once Voltaire offended a nobleman, he was imprisoned in a Bastille, only to be released if he was exiled to London. Once Voltaire was in London, he immersed himself in the scientific wonders of Isaac Newton and John Locke. Voltaire was greatly inspired by their beliefs and practices, so he decided to write a book harshly comparing the government of France compared to that of London.

Obviously the book was banned from being produced. However, it did not stop the spread of gossip of these subjects. The coffeehouses in Paris were very similar to those of London’s, so gossip was a large part of the environment. Slowly, coffeehouses were filled with government spies to listen to what patrons were saying. As the gap between the wealthy government and aristocracy and the heavily taxed citizens grew, France transitioned into a struggling country. The financial crisis was monstrous, dividing the upperclassmen and the poor by major gap. The coffeehouses became the scene of revolutionary ferment. Coffeehouses changed the way French government operated, ultimately making it more fair for the people who lived there. While coffeehouses caused much controversy they became the meeting place for a revolution of people who deserved more rights. There were many different effects that coffee had on people and places, but in the end, coffee forever changed the government and minds of people.

As the caffeine kick was still in full swing. London was still the head of the caffeinated beverage market. Tea started out, like most drinks, as a luxury item, but slowly turned into the fuel that kept working men operating. The workingmen were like well oiled machines when drinking tea. While London may have been the largest market of tea drinking, tea was not grown in Europe at all. All tea was grown and transported to London from china. While tea played a large part in the lives of people, it cost a lot of money in order to transport it into the country. Tea originated in china when an emperor brewed leaves and flowers together and ended up with a new beverage. China was flourishing, it was the most advanced country at the time, a forerunner in fashion, food, music, cloths, and many other items that were greatly prized.

In the early sixteenth century Europeans finally went to China. At the beginning, tea was not imported to Europe on a commercial scare, there may have been small amounts shipped from China for royalty and important people. It was around the time of 1610 that the first large amount of tea was transported out of china. While tea may have been around for a longer time than coffee, however, the price of importing tea was significantly more expensive. So tea did not officially popularize until around the eighteenth century. As the amount of tea consumed grew, larger amounts of tea had to be imported. Around eleven tons were imported a year. Black team became more popular than green tea because the taste was better and it would not perish as quickly as green tea. For the lower class citizens, tea became an affordable luxury. Tea was no longer a privilege but a hobby, everyone, no matter their social status drank at least two cups of tea a day.

Since China was the major tea supplier for all of Europe, it received most of their money from exporting tea. Since people in London drank excessive amounts of tea, it continued to elevate the amount of money China was receiving for selling tea. By China exporting tea, it ensured that many of the countries would promote peace and not war. Sine Tea was a major staple in European life; people were not going to risk their relationship with the country over a silly fight or argument. However, not all good could last long in China. Once tea was discovered in India that quickly took over most of China’s sale sells.

Since India was significantly closer than China it cost much less to import tea from India than it did from China. Now India was the main supplier of tea, which affected India immensely. London decided to take over and gain control of India, however, the plan was cut short by an uprising at war. China and India were both major suppliers of tea. Tea had become one of the most popular and used drinks in the entire world. The tradition of tea drinking is still apparent in the world today, even if it is not as extreme as it was hundreds of years ago.

The American System of Manufacturers was the beginning of America’s industrial revolution. The rise of America and the globalization of advancements in the twentieth century was a mirror of the rise of Coca-Cola. Coke was first made in a brewery around 1767. Joseph Priestly was a clergyman and scientist. Priestley became fascinated with the gas found I the fermentation vats. At first, there were very few bottles produced, but slowly as Coca-Cola became more popular. The original use of soda was to cure ailments. But not only could Coca-Cola help cure stomach pains, it was also a bubbly delicious drink.

Coca-Cola, the names that worldwide, people recognize. The name comes from the two major ingredients that make up the drink, coca, and kola. Coke was promoted in many differ ways. Free samples were sent out for people to experience and try out. Posters were placed everywhere, in streets and in soda fountains. The popularity of this new drink took off. People loved the flavor and bubbliness of the drink. In the beginning of Coca-Cola being sold, it was never sold in bottles due to the fact that the inventor of coke believed it would never taste the same. Slowly, a small amount of the syrup was sold to be bottled. Bottled Coca-Cola turned out to be a huge hit. From the bubbly taste, to the catchy name, and unique bottles, Coca-Cola became one of the most widely dunk beverages in the world.

Being closely associated with America, Coca-Cola captures the trend, world globalization. The distribution of Coke brought many countries together to share a common drink. Coke definitely improved America’s credit in the eyes of other countries. Coca-Cola today is still one of the most consumed beverages in the world.

Beverages obviously have had a large effect on the evolution of the world. It changed the world and how we live today. Tom Standage states that beverages were not the only things that shaped the new world. “Distilled drinks, alongside firearms and infectious diseases helped to reshape the modern world by helping inhabitants of the Old World to establish themselves as rulers of the New World.” There are many arguments on the accuracy of this statement. While certain elements of this statement certainly are true, these items are not the only factors that shaped the rulers of the modern world. Diseases have a great effect on the world, may diseases have killed thousands of people and changed populations and customs, however infectious diseases are not a large factor in the development of the New World.

In many European and Middle Eastern countries distilled drinks were drank daily, and were used as medicine and they played a part in the development of countries but they only affected certain regions of the world. Distilled drinks were not popular everywhere in the world, and many religions banned them. So therefor, distilled drinks were not the only beverage that shaped the modern world. While there is a lot of truth in the statement that Standage makes, it is not entirely accurate. There were more than a few factors that played into shaping and changing the old world into the new world.


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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 29 April 2016

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