Wari “Wisdom”: Share the Beer

Donna Nash

Beer Fueled Diplomacy in This Ancient Empire

by Jason Daley Smithsonian.com

Centuries before the rise of Inca Empire, the Wari culture ruled the Andean highlands. Between 600 and 1100 A.D., its empire stretched along the coast of present-day Peru between the Andes Mountains and the sea. Researchers think they now know one factor that kept the Wari culture on top for roughly 500 years: they plied their neighbors with local beer.

Information about the Wari’s beer culture comes from research at an archaeological site in the mountains of southern Peru called Cerro Baúl. Researchers believe the outpost—a two-to-three-week journey from the capital city of Huari—once functioned as a place of diplomacy. That’s why the site, near the border of the rival Tiwanaku culture, contained, among other things, a brewery.

Looking to understand more about the ancient beer diplomacy that took place there, researchers recently dug a little deeper into the brewing process.

“We know that the Wari were trying to incorporate the diverse groups coming [to Cerro Baúl], and one of the ways they probably did that was through big festivals that revolved around the local beer,” Ryan Williams, head of anthropology at the Field Museum in Chicago and lead author of the study in the journal Sustainability, tells Megan Gannon at National Geographic.

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