Intoxicating: The Science of Alcohol

Introduction: “Alcohol: An Astonishing Molecule,” by Patrick E. McGovern

Scientific American Classics, March 2015


Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages
by Patrick E. McGovern (University of California Press, 2009)
In a lively tour around the world and through the millennia, Uncorking the Past tells the compelling story of humanity’s ingenious, intoxicating quest for the perfect drink. Following a tantalizing trail of archaeological, chemical, artistic, and textual clues, Patrick McGovern, the leading authority on ancient alcoholic beverages, brings us up to date on what we now know about how humans created and enjoyed fermented beverages across cultures.


winebookcoverAncient Wine: The Search for the Origins of Viniculture
by Patrick E. McGovern (Princeton University Press, 2003/2006)
This book is the first comprehensive and up-to-date account of the earliest stages of vinicultural history and prehistory, which extends back into the Neolithic period and beyond. Elegantly written and richly illustrated, Ancient Wine opens up whole new chapters in the fascinating story of wine and the vine by drawing upon recent archaeological discoveries, molecular and DNA sleuthing, and the texts and art of long-forgotten peoples.

L’archeologo e l’uva


The Foreign Relations of the “Hyksos”: A Neutron Activation Study of Middle Bronze Age Pottery from the Eastern Mediterranean by P. E. McGovern with a contribution by Tine Bagh (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2000).

This NAA study of Syro-Palestinian pottery types found at Tell el-Dab‘a/Avaris is important from the perspective it provides on economic and social developments at what has been identified as the capital of the “Hyksos” in the north eastern Nile Delta during the period from the late Middle Kingdom through the Second Intermediate Period. As well as opening up a new sight-line on the pottery industry at Tell el-Dab‘a / Avaris, this study is also extremely important in refining hypotheses and conclusions based on pottery analyses, and, indeed, the author presents his case for a radical rethink in the light of these NAA findings. Illustrated throughout.

The Origins and Ancient History of Wine

P. E. McGovern, S. J. Fleming and S. Katz, Eds. (New York: Gordon and Breach, 1995)

The study of the origin, development and diversity of the human diet is emerging as a coherent field that offers a much-needed integrative framework for our contemporary knowledge of the ecology of food and nutrition. This authoritative series of monographs and symposia volumes on the history and anthropology of food and nutrition is designed to address this need by providing integrative approaches to the study of various problems within the human food chain. Since the series is both methodologically and conceptually integrative, the focus of the individual volumes spans such topics as nutrition and health, culinary practices, prehistoric analyses of diet, and food scarcity and subsistence practices among various societies of the world.

The Late Bronze Egyptian Garrison at Beth Shan: A Study of Levels VII and VIII
by F. W. James, as prepared posthumously, and P. E. McGovern (University of Pennsylvania Museum Monograph 85.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1993).

The University Museum excavated at Beth Shan from 1921-1934, when stratigraphical methods were first being developed. For this study the two Late Bronze levels (VII and VIII) have been reevaluated by the careful analysis of field records, photographs, and drawings along with the restudy of all artifacts housed in The University Museum and a selection of objects in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem. The structures of these levels have parallels in New Kingdom Egypt and Late Bronze/Early Iron Age sites of southern Levant and the Sinai. Included are contributions by 13 specialists on specific classes of objects and technologies.

The Organic Contents of Ancient Vessels: Materials Analysis and Archaeological Investigation

William R. Biers and Patrick E. McGovern, Eds. (MASCA Research Papers in Science and Archaeology, vol. 7.  Philadelphia: MASCA, University of Pennsylvania Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1990)

The papers in this volume clearly demonstrate the importance of investigating organic residues to elucidate crucial aspects of ancient life such as agriculture, trade, ritual practice. Much of the information presented here could only have been derived using scientific techniques of analysis.

Cross-Craft and Cross-Cultural Interactions in Ceramics

P. E. McGovern and M. R. Notis, Eds.  (Ceramics and Civilization IV, ed. W. D. Kingery.  Westerville, OH: American Ceramic Society)

The Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages of Central Transjordan: The Baq`ah Valley Project, 1977-1981

by Patrick E. McGovern (University of Pennsylvania Museum Monograph 65.  Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1986)

“McGovern turns the results of a relatively modest excavation into a monumental research report, which can in many ways serve as a model for archaeological reporting . . . deserves to be in every archaeological and anthropological library.”—Journal of the American Oriental Society

“McGovern is to be commended for the writing and editing of a near-perfect archaeological report of a group of burial caves in the Baq’ah Valley near Amman. It is comprehensive and far-ranging, thoroughly research and up-to-date, well designed and coherently written. . . . A monumental research report, which can in many ways serve as an model for archaeological reporting . . . deserves to be in every archaeological and anthropological library.”—Journal of the American Oriental Society

A critical transition period in the archaeology and history of Palestine—the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age—is described in detail from the perspective of a group of sites in the Baq’ah Valley. A major emphasis is on how scientific techniques, including magnetic location of undisturbed burial deposits and analytical reconstruction of very early industries, can be effectively integrated into an archaeological project. Contrary to traditional views, the evidence supports a relatively peaceful development within a single cultural tradition rather than the intrusion of a new people or segment of the existing population, by invasion, migration, or revolt.

Late Bronze Age Palestinian Pendants: Innovation in a Cosmopolitan Age
by Patrick E. McGovern (Journal for the Society of the Old Testament/American Schools of Oriental Research Monograph Series, no. 1, ed. E. M. Meyers.  Sheffield, Eng.: JSOT/ASOR)

Ornamental and Amuletic Jewelry Pendants of Late Bronze Age Palestine: An Archaeological Study
by Patrick E. McGovern (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.  Ann Arbor: University Microfilms)