The Getty Villa
Date: Saturday, June 4, 2011; repeats Sunday, June 5, 2011
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Villa, Auditorium
Past Event

Patrick McGovern
 
Following a trail of archaeological and chemical clues around the world and through the millennia, Patrick McGovern, scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, tells the story of humanity's quest for the perfect drink. Whether it be mind-altering, medicinal, a religious symbol, a social lubricant, or artistic inspiration, fermented beverages have not only been a profound force in history but they may also be fundamental to the human condition itself.

In this talk, McGovern illustrates the biomolecular archaeological approach by describing the discovery of the most ancient, chemically-attested alcoholic beverage in the world, dating back to about 7000 B.C. A mixed fermented beverage of rice, hawthorn fruit/grape, and honey was reconstructed based on the analysis of some of the world's earliest pottery from Jiahu in the Yellow River valley of China. Recently discovered is a fermented beverage made from the fruit pod of the cacao tree, as based on analysis of pottery shards dating to about 1200 B.C. from the site of Puerto Escondido in Honduras. Like grape and rice wine, chocolate "wine" went on to become the prerogative of royalty and the upper class, and a focus of religion.

The earliest alcoholic beverage from China and the chocolate beverage from Honduras, as well as a mixed drink served at the King Midas funerary feast, have been re-created by Dogfish Head Brewery, shedding light on how our ancestors made them. A tasting of these three beverages–Chateau Jiahu, Theobroma, and Midas Touch–will take place following the lecture.

About Patrick McGovern
Patrick E. McGovern is the scientific director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Laboratory for Cuisine, Fermented Beverages, and Health at the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia, where he is also an adjunct professor of anthropology. Over the past two decades, he has pioneered the exciting interdisciplinary field of biomolecular archaeology, which is yielding whole new chapters concerning our human ancestry, medical practice, and ancient cuisines and beverages. He is the author of Ancient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture (Princeton University Press, 2003), and Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages (Berkeley: University of California, 2009), and he appears regularly on the Discovery Channel's Brew Masters program.

Back to Top
Planning your visit
The Getty Villa and its galleries are open to the general public from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. With a lecture ticket, you may arrive up to one hour prior to the start time of the program. For earlier arrival, a separate general admission ticket is recommended. The auditorium opens at 4:30 p.m. and seating is on a first-come, first served basis. The Cafe is open for lunch service from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The galleries and Museum Store will be open after the lecture.


How to Get Here
The Getty Villa is located at 17985 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, California, approximately 25 miles west of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for directions and parking information.