by Ben Muessig, Contributor
(Nov. 10) -- Over the years, beer has brought countless people together. But researchers now say beer isn't just responsible for sparking new friendships and relationships -- it might also be responsible for the rise of human civilization.
Archaeologists believe that when Stone Age farmers in Southwest Asia began harvesting grain -- a process long considered to be a precursor to the advent of civilization -- they weren't doing it to produce food.
Instead, they say agriculture's early seeds were sown in an attempt to brew beer, according to LiveScience.com. 
Scholars believe Neolithic groups in the Natufian culture began settling down and farming cereal grains about 11,500 years ago. But archaeological evidence reportedly shows that barley and rice were only minor parts of the diets of early humans -- leading researchers to believe they might have been used for drinks at parties.
Considering how hard it is to turn grain into food and how far some Neolithic people traveled to obtain grain, archaeologist Brian Hayden at Canada's Simon Fraser University believes early man might have stockpiled grain to make beer that was served at feasts.
"It's not that drinking and brewing by itself helped start cultivation, it's this context of feasts that links beer and the emergence of complex societies," Hayden told the website.
And as uncivilized as a beer-fueled party might seem today, Hayden says those sudsy feasts laid the groundwork for the rise of civilization.
"Feasts are essential in traditional societies for creating debts, for creating factions, for creating bonds between people, for creating political power, for creating support networks, and all of this is essential for developing more complex kinds of societies," he said.
 Read more at LiveScience.com.
Beer Lubricated the Rise of Civilization, Study Suggests
By Charles Q. Choi, LiveScience Contributor
posted: 05 November 2010 08:39 am ET
Click to view image: '9a1cc3fa1074-beer.jpg'
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