A 5,000 year old brewery has been discovered in Egypt…
It was Friday evening in Alexandria, so the small sandstone building was full. Above its front door was a sign in hieroglyph, the Ancient Egyptian word for ’emoji’. What it read was ‘eye, cobra, dung beetle’. What it said was The Light House.
The Light House of Alexandria was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, not – as history believes – because it was a lighthouse (a pedantic error similar to believing that Mars Bars come from Mars), but because it was a pub, and if that doesn’t sound all that wonderful you should bear in mind that Babylon’s contribution to the list was basically shrubbery.
The pub’s clientele on this Friday evening could have been drawn from any bar, in any time. Some sat alone, staring into a distance a thousand lives away, where they had made better choices and had jobs that didn’t require liquid amnesia at the end of the week. A small group were loudly bragging about their wins and bemoaning their losses in that day’s camel races. Two men at the far end of the bar were playing Pool, a game that involved lobbying stones, from a distance, into a bucket of water. Others were engaged in lively and intelligent conversation.
“I’m telling you, they’re square,” said Taafeef. “Like any other building.”
“Then why do they look pointy?” asked Sethos.
“Because the top is further away,” said Taafeef. “It’s like looking down a road and watching it get narrower.”
From the corner, Ammon looked up over his Daily Papyrus. “They look pointy because they are pointy,” he said, before he could stop himself.
Ammon tried every week to stay out of these conversations, and every week found himself dragged in. He believed, though he would never admit it, that he was cleverer than the others, because he had medical training, and was the town’s undertaker and embalmer.
He didn’t know that the others referred to him as the Mummy’s Boy.
“Really?” said Taafeef. “And how do they build them?”
Ammon hesitated, but only for a second. “Triangular bricks,” he said.
Taafeef stared at him, then nodded grudgingly.
“But what’s the point?” asked Sethos, “if you’ll pardon the pun.”
After a moment unfilled with laughter Ammon said. “The architect wanted them that way.”
“Which architect?” asked Taafeef.
“Ptoblerone,” said Ammon. “One of the new guys.”
Taafeef snorted. “Too much modern architecture going on these days, if you ask me,” he said. “Look at that Sphinx.”
“Exactly,” said Sethos. “Like, why doesn’t she have a face?”
“No idea,” said Taafeef. The two looked again at Ammon, who gave up and put away his paper. “Apparently it’s to represent the the inscrutability and mystery of women,” he said.
“Well, I can’t argue with the sentiment,” said Sethos, “but I reckon people will look at it in years to come and just reckon that her nose fell off.”
The conversation weaved its way across the rest of the evening, covering such topics as how many frogs constituted a plague, whether you could jam a barge sideways across the Nile, and where the Moses basket got its name from.
Closing time arrived. Ammon stood to leave, and swayed. This was because the local beer was brewed with dates, dried scorpion and Dead Sea brine, and was strong enough to make you worship cats.
Braheem the owner stared at him suspiciously. “How are you getting home?” he asked.
“Got my camel outside,” said Ammon, and burped.
“I don’t think you’re fit to ride it,” said Braheem. He pointed to a line marked out in chalk along the floor. “Walk along that for me.”
Ammon walked calmly along the line, one foot in front of the other. He reached the end, looked defiantly at Braheem, and left. The others heard a loud heaving grunt as he hauled himself up onto his camel, then a wail and a loud thump as he toppled off the other side.
“I’m going to have to come up with a better drunk test,” said Braheem.