While Adam and Eve caused the entire fall of man by eating an apple, our prehistoric ancestors may have eaten some rotting fruit off the ground that contributed to the development of civilization as we know it. The fermented fruit contained mankind’s first taste of alcohol, and mankind has yet to stop chasing that buzz.
Archaeologists have evidence of alcoholic beverages being produced and consumed by almost every civilization since the Neolithic era, some 10,000 years ago. There are even clay chards of what would have been the first beer bottles from this period. Made from fruit, grains, and honey, their fermented mixtures may have been important sources of energy and nutrients. When humans eventually learned to cultivate crops, it may have been mainly for the purpose of producing more grains to make more alcohol. It is more than likely that we had beer before we had bread; it is definitely true that beer was invented before the wheel. So, at the rise of mankind, at the very dawn of civilization, there was booze. And it was good.
With this great new drink also came great responsibility – the responsibility to document it and all the glorious things we would do while intoxicated. Though it would be a long, long time before camera phones, Facebook, Tumblr, or Texts From Last Night were invented to capture and share pictures and tales of wasted people, humans have always known that this was a necessary task and so turned to art. From ancient Greece to Renaissance Italy to Ming Dynasty China to here and now, artists have portrayed our beloved booze, the act of getting tipsy, the inebriated among us, and the drunks in us all.
So when you’ve thrown back one too many at your family Thanksgiving dinner or your company holiday party this season, there’s no need to feel embarrassed, sloppy, or uncouth. Instead, you can be proud to be a part of a long and rich cultural and artistic tradition – a part of the Complex History of Art & Inebriation.
Check out the 11 Most Inebriated Moments in Art History.