Egypt said on Saturday it had uncovered what may be "the world's oldest industrial-scale brewery" in the ancient city of Abydos, in the south of the country, marking the latest in a series of archeological discoveries.
The brewery was originally discovered by British archaeologists in the early 20th century but, according to Egypt's antiquities ministry, its importance was not realized and its location was later lost.
An American-Egyptian archaeological mission rediscovered the lost brewery in Abydos in the Sohag province, about 500 kilometers south of Cairo, and uncovered its secrets.
The high-production beer factory dates back to 3,000 B.C., during the reign of King Narmer, who is widely believed to be the first ruler of a unified Egypt and the founder of the First Dynasty.
"The factory was producing about 22,400 liters of beer at a time, and it may have been built in this place specifically to supply the royal rituals that were taking place inside the funeral facilities of the kings of Egypt," a ministry statement quoted Matthew Adams, who is leading the mission, as saying.
"Evidence for the use of beer in sacrificial rites was found during excavations in these facilities," he added.
Abydos, located in the desert west of the Nile River, is home to royal necropolises that date back to the first four dynasties. The prominent archeological site was a burial ground for Egypt's earliest pharaohs.
"The brewery was located in a vast desert area reserved exclusively for the use of Egypt's first kings, including Narmer," said Deborah Vischak of Princeton University, who was also part of the mission.
"In Abydos, they established Egypt's first great royal necropolis and also built monumental funerary temples, known as 'cultic enclosures,'" Vischak said. "The brewery may have been built expressly to supply royal ritual at the enclosures, based on extensive excavation of the monuments and evidence for the use of beer in large-scale offering rituals in them."
Egypt is hoping a string of recent major discoveries will help the country revive its ailing tourism industry, which had begun to pick up in recent years only to be hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month, Egypt uncovered a funerary temple and the oldest coffins ever found in Saqqara, another ancient necropolis south of Cairo.
The country unearthed 52 burial shafts with more than 50 wooden coffins found inside. They date back 3,000 years.