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Evidence For 3,000 Year-Old ‘Nordic Grog’ Tradition Found At Penn Museum

Update Date: Jan 18, 2014 03:53 PM EST

Nordic peoples, ones residing in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, were imbibing an alcoholic "grog" till as late as the first century AD, a new research has found. 

The alcoholic "grog" might be the extreme hybrid beverages rich in local ingredients like honey, bog cranberry, lingonberry, bog myrtle, yarrow, juniper, and birch tree resin. Possibilities are that the beverages might be replaced by grape wine imported from southern central Europe. 

Researchers based their findings on the new archaeochemical evidence found from the samples inside pottery and bronze drinking vessels and strainers from four sites in Denmark and Sweden. They also combined the previously obtained  archaeobotanical data.

"Far from being the barbarians so vividly described by ancient Greeks and Romans, the early Scandinavians, northern inhabitants of so-called Proxima Thule, emerge with this new evidence as a people with an innovative flair for using available natural products in the making of distinctive fermented beverages," said Dr. Patrick E. McGovern, Scientific Director of the Biomolecular Archaeology Project at the University of Pennsylvania Museum and lead author of the research, in a press release. 

"They were not averse to adopting the accoutrements of southern or central Europeans, drinking their preferred beverages out of imported and often ostentatiously grand vessels. They were also not averse to importing and drinking the southern beverage of preference, grape wine, though sometimes mixed with local ingredients." 

The biomolecular archaeological evidences pretty much support the old school of thoughts regarding the long-lived Nordic grog tradition. 

Researchers before reaching the conclusions, obtained ancient residue samples from four sites in a 150-mile radius of southern Sweden that also encompassed Denmark. The obtained ancient organic compounds were identified by few chemical techniques like Fourier-transform infrared spectrometry (FT-IR) and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).

The research was published online in the Danish Journal of Archaeology.

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