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Taverns and Temples: A Global Architectural History

Taverns and Temples: A Global Architectural History

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Lectures (4)

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The Overview

Human societies and individuals have been consuming alcoholic intoxicants throughout human history for a multitude of reasons including social, cultural, and nutritional benefits – perceived or factual. Humans consume intoxicating drinks like beer, wine, and spirits that have the capability to alter their moods and the status of their minds in a wide array of locations and situations that are not limited by geography, time period, or language. This broad human experience underscores their inherent physiological appeal to humans.

However, the biological effects of alcohol are but a small piece of the attraction and more than any other kind of food or drink the cultural and social attributes of alcohol have maintained the highest significance in societies across the globe. Across all human societies, material places formed around the collective consumption of alcohol show distinctive physical features. The architecture of a American colonial tavern or a British pub, a Greek temple to Dionysus or Roman vomitorium, a sake brewery in Japan or chicha brewery in Ecuador cannot be explained without the rituals, customs, and prohibitions associated with the consumption of alcohol.

This module of four lectures traces the introduction and dissemination of alcoholic substances (beer, wine, spirits) and the spaces of consumption and production across the globe and offers a history of related architectural types (breweries, wineries, taverns, temples, etc.) and how they have changed over time. The lectures consider the material context of these substances from changing technologies of production from early beer and wine production in Mesopotamia and the eastern Mediterranean through the present day. In addition, they will examine the cultural and social factors of the rituals of brewing, feasting, and imbibing and how they connect people in spite of geographical distance.