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Ancient Nubians Drank Antibiotic-Laced Beer 249

Posted by timothy
from the what's-a-nubian dept.
eldavojohn writes "A new analysis of millennia old mummy bones (abstract; full article is paywalled) shows high concentrations of tetracycline, which indicates empirical knowledge and use of antibiotics — most likely consumed in beer. The researchers traced the source of the antibiotics to the soil bacteria streptomyces present in the grain used to ferment the beer. Astonishingly enough, 'Even the tibia and skull belonging to a 4-year-old were full of tetracycline, suggesting that they were giving high doses to the child to try and cure him of illness.' The extent of saturation in the bones leads the scientists to assert that the population regularly consumed tetracycline antibiotics knowing that it would cure certain sicknesses."
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Ancient Nubians Drank Antibiotic-Laced Beer

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  • Where are they now? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by clickety6 (141178) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:31AM (#33433440)
    the population regularly consumed tetracycline antibiotics ... leading to the whole population being suddenly wiped out by the TRSA superbug !
    • It probably regularly happened. A new strain of disease comes along, old traditions and rituals don't work and societies get thrown into turmoil - most dramatically, look at what happened to some of the big civilizations of the New World when European diseases swept through.

  • "What's a Nubian?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:32AM (#33433446)

    The sickness, the tetracycline, or simply the high dose of beer?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:33AM (#33433448)

    giving a child drug-laced beer. Next they'll discover they also used medical marijuana, which would be an even greater sin.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Of course, it was the illegal downloading that led to the real fall of their civilisation.
  • Not really, no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:37AM (#33433466) Journal

    Sometimes sick people got better after drinking beer.

    How is this any different than any historical herbal remedy? They didn't need to have any more knowledge of anti-biotics than natives eating mushrooms need know the shrooms contain psilocybin.

    Bacteria infected their grain, this resulted in anti-biotic beer which became a local herbal remedy or healing potion. No actual discovery of bacteria or idea WHY the remedy heals. Interesting but hardly 'astonishing'.

    • Re:Not really, no (Score:4, Insightful)

      by somersault (912633) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:52AM (#33433510) Homepage Journal

      Or maybe they just liked beer.. I'm pretty sure most people consuming large doses of beer these days aren't doing it for the health benefits.

      • Re:Not really, no (Score:4, Insightful)

        by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:56AM (#33433532) Journal

        quite possible, they could have been drowning their sick children in massive doses of beer to ease their suffering.

        In the Nubians defense, 'most people consuming large doses of beer these days' aren't consuming anti-biotic beer so they don't have the opportunity to drink it for the same health benefits. Besides that, anti-biotics can be ordered in pure forms now.

        • Re:Not really, no (Score:5, Insightful)

          by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @06:41AM (#33433684) Homepage

          If you've ever been to Africa, you'll know this. The reason you drink only beer, no matter your objections and thoughts on the matter is that you're relatively sure it won't infect you with an illness. Drinking water from a pond in the jungle is Russian roulette. Drinking water offered by inhabitants of a village is asking for poison.

          Even today, in remote parts of Africa you drink either bottled water (which you check before you drink it), or beer. Nothing else. You just can't trust it.

          And let's not talk about the food.

          • Re:Not really, no (Score:4, Informative)

            by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:07AM (#33434048)

            Beer : contains alcohol - which kills many water borne pathogens, is made by boiling water, which kills most of the rest

            Medieval Europe and colonial North America drank large amounts of "Small Beer" Low alcohol beer, instead of water for precisely this reason, it was simply but very effectively abiotic

            All the Nubian's added to this was that they stumbled across an ingredient that made it anti-biotic as well...

            In the Ancient Near-East (Sumeria/Babylon etc) they drank Mead - Honey beer that is also anti-biotic ....

            • Re:Not really, no (Score:5, Informative)

              by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@nOspAm.gdargaud.net> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:55AM (#33434384) Homepage
              You are wrong in attributing the drinkability of beer to alcohol: beer doesn't contain enough alcohol to kill most pathogens (2 to 8% in traditional beers). It does so thanks to competition with yeast. You have many germs in your brew when you start it, but if all goes well only yeast grows and eliminates the competition. Sometimes a brew can go bad where the yeast is eliminated by other germs, but then it's rather easy to tell: it doesn't smell, looks or taste like beer, so you don't drink it. With water you can't tell.
              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by moeluv (1785142)
                Actually most of the reason for a lack of pathogens in beer is that it is boiled for a long time. Most recipes I use call for at least an hour long boil. The yeast and bacteria can live together and function, there may still even be some alcohol in the batch, but quite often if there is an infection it will be the bacteria who win out and ruin the beer.If your beer is infected it's because of poor sanitation. This hasn't happened to any of mine so far but I keep my equipment clean.
              • Re:Not really, no (Score:4, Informative)

                by hal2814 (725639) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:35AM (#33434742)

                You drop a pathogen into a solution that's 2%-8% alcohol with a PH around 4-5 that's had most of its sugars and oxygen consumed and tell me how it does. Alcohol isn't the whole story but it's a big part of it. The yeast more or less have a scorched earth policy towards the unfermented beer. They use aerobic respiration as long as there is oxygen available so they can multiply. When there is no more oxygen, they'll resort to anaerobic respiration and eat up all of the sugars and leave behind alcohol and CO2. When that is done, they'll go dormant for a while but if left in the brew too long will even resort to autolysis and start eating each other. They consume almost anything and everything that can be consumed and leave their environment quite inhospitable afterwards to anything but bacteria like lactobacillus or less picky yeast strains like brettanomyces. Even infected beer is generally safe to drink because of the type of infection that would have to be present to survive the harsh post-fermentation environment.

              • by Creepy (93888)

                I'm not sure how it affects other organisms, but yes, alcohol needs to be about 70% to kill bacteria directly, which is why first aid methanol is sold at 70% or higher concentrations. Grandparent is right that wort is boiled for an hour or more, however, and that should do in most bacteria and other microorganisms (like wild yeasts).

                Brewer's yeast is not exactly the best competitor - beer making generally requires a very clean process, often involving soaking pretty much everything in bleach

          • I'd mod you up if I had some points. This is the most likely explanation. It's why people many other places in the world throughout history have embraced fermented beverages.
          • by ptbarnett (159784)

            The reason you drink only beer, no matter your objections and thoughts on the matter is that you're relatively sure it won't infect you with an illness.

            In colonial times, the United States was similar. The first batch of beer went to the pubs or into private stashes.

            The wort was re-used for multiple batches, which were much lower in alcohol content. But, it was enough to kill the pathogens and was drank at every meal. It was even served to children.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Hognoxious (631665)

              Wort becomes beer. You can't reuse it any more than you can reuse eggs to make multiple omelets.

    • Re:Not really, no (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:56AM (#33433530)

      Ya this kinda sounds like herbal medicine BS in reverse. Rather than saying "People used herbs to cure illness so these herbs will cure you!" form of modern luddism this is kind of a reverse claim of forced sophistication "These people's remedy had anti-biotics so clearly they know about anti-biotics and did it on purpose!"

      I doubt there was empirical testing going on here. As the parent said, the beer sometimes helped people get better so they used it. This is like any other herbal remedy. Once we got better at all this and started testing, we found that sometimes herbal remedies were on the money. People used willow bark as an analgesic and fever reducer and sure as shit, one of the ingredients works great and lead to aspirin. Others have some minor benefits, sometimes it is questionable if it is statistically significant but the seem to help in some things. Others were just placebo, they don't do shit.

      None of this was know, hence why there's a great mixture.

      I like what Dara O' Briain has to say about it: "Oh herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years. Indeed it has, and then we tested it all and the stuff that worked became -medicine-. And the rest of it is just a nice bowl of soup and some potpourri. So knock yourselves out."

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There is also the minor consideration that drinking "pure" water would kill you (cholera, etc) and the alcohol in the beer killed the bacteria up front so kids drinking beer was not unusual

        • I think it was here-abouts I read (so make of it what you will) that it's not the alcohol content, but the fact the one of the stages of the beer-making process involves boiling the water.
          • Re:Not really, no (Score:4, Informative)

            by hal2814 (725639) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:49AM (#33433970)

            No, it's the alcohol content and relatively low PH (usually in the 4-5 range) that makes beer so unfriendly for pathogens. There are even styles of beer like Berliner Weisse [wikipedia.org] that are not traditionally boiled but are still far safer to drink than water of unknown quality.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            The basic process goes like this: Heat h2o until good and hot, but not boiling (about 150 deg f.), mix in grains, let sit a hour or 2 or 3, drain resulting liquid off the spent grains, boil liquid, cool it, pitch yeast, allow to ferment.

            Initial boiling kills anything in the water used to make the beer, the alcohol from fermentation helps prevent subsequent infection from most other microorganisms. Other more herbal ingredients (hops, for instance) can add other antimicrobial properties. There is a per
      • Re:Not really, no (Score:5, Informative)

        by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @06:26AM (#33433632) Journal

        I wouldn't go as far with herb bashing as you (you seem to be implying willow bark is the only herb with a better than minor effect). Half the herbs on the shelf in GNC have peer reviewed double blind studies backing them which is really all the prescription drugs show. The effects or many are significant enough they need to be considered right alongside prescription meds for contraindications.

        None of that is to say that there is any sort of manufacturing oversight, claims testing (particularly in the diet and erectile dysfunction areas) or that a natural random soup of chemicals is somehow automatically safer than an intelligently purpose crafted solution. But there ARE many effective herbal remedies and some that seem to be more effective than prescription solutions (marijuana is far more effective than comparable prescription medications in not one but numerous areas). Another example is fish oil, like marijuana there are many physicians recommending fish oil over FDA approved supplements.

        A lot of people have a bogus idea about herbal testing. They think because no testing is required that none is performed. Or they believe some odd myth that none of these substances have been shown effective in testing. Or that a single molecule is always responsible for the effects. There is less money to be made herbal remedies and less control of claims. As a result there are fewer studies into their effects. Just the same there have been many studies (though far less than of prescription meds) and they OFTEN show benefits vs placebo not rarely.

        • by plumby (179557)

          you seem to be implying willow bark is the only herb with a better than minor effect

          I could be wrong, but I think you're reading something into his statement that's not there. I didn't see anything that suggested it was the only effective herb - it was just a single example.

          Another example is fish oil, like marijuana there are many physicians recommending fish oil over FDA approved supplements.

          You might want to look at what Ben Goldacre has to say about fish oils, and the poor science behind much of their p

          • by ProppaT (557551)

            You're really citing Ben Goldacre? There's as much criticism of him as their are the studies he "picks apart." He's basically the medical equivalent of the modern day forum troll who adds nothing to the conversation but takes every chance he gets to point out the fact that someone didn't dot his i's or cross his t's. Granted, I think that scrutiny in the medical field is needed now more than ever, but we need people giving constructive criticism, not criticism alone.

            I think a major issue with most medica

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sarkeizen (106737)
          Half the herbs on the shelf in GNC have peer reviewed double blind studies backing them which is really all the prescription drugs show.

          Shananagans on two counts:

          i) I think there is significant reason to doubt that you checked for studies with very much rigor.

          ii) Even it you did check for some. It's not necessarily the same as what prescription drugs are required to show. I've read a number of journal articles on herbal remedies and what I tend to see are small-n, poorly controlled, terrible end
      • Re:Not really, no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:10AM (#33434502) Homepage

        I doubt there was empirical testing going on here. As the parent said, the beer sometimes helped people get better so they used it.

        That is empirical testing. The herbalists would have done better to stick to it. Unfortunately, they developed bogus theories.

        And the rest of it is just a nice bowl of soup and some potpourri.

        Well, no. Some of it is toxic.

      • Re:Not really, no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by asliarun (636603) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:44AM (#33434844)

        I like what Dara O' Briain has to say about it: "Oh herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years. Indeed it has, and then we tested it all and the stuff that worked became -medicine-. And the rest of it is just a nice bowl of soup and some potpourri. So knock yourselves out."

        A lot of what you said is very true - herbal medicine in general is not as systematic or scientific as modern medicine.

        However, to make a blanket statement that all herbal medicine is hit-and-miss, voodoo magic, and unscientific is also distorting the truth, and based on ignorance of our past. Science is not the fiefdom of the Greco-Roman system we have been following in the last couple of hundred years. Systematic and scientific study has indeed been followed by many old cultures, albeit not to the level of sophistication that we currently follow. Nonetheless, you cannot just trash it completely.

        Look at what Sushruta [wikipedia.org] used to do in India in 800BC for example.

        To quote the wikipedia article:

        "The Sushruta Samhita contains 184 chapters and description of 1120 illnesses, 700 medicinal plants, a detailed study on Anatomy, 64 preparations from mineral sources and 57 preparations based on animal sources."

        Not just medicine, he has written extensively about surgery, especially plastic surgery, and some of his techniques and instruments are still being used today.

        He wasn't alone, you can also read about Charaka [wikipedia.org].

        What I am basically trying to say is that the basic principles of science such as logic and experimental proof did not get magically invented a couple of hundred years ago. Most scientists in the old days were let down by a lack of infrastructure and lack of mature manufacturing processes, among other things. They were not let down because their approach was unscientific or unsystematic. Don't trash herbal medicine just because the active chemical ingredient of a herb has not been isolated (because of lack of chemical or process know-how). No system of medicine (even herbal medicine) can withstand the test of time if it was solely based on hit and trial or voodoo/magic, instead of being based on logic and method.

        To put it another way, should your great grandchild trash-talk and call you a scientific neanderthal just because you used to eat fruits, vegetables, and meat instead of ingesting (isolated) protein, carb, vitamin, and fibre tablets? Forget isolating nutrients from our food, we haven't even been able to properly bio-engineer the food that we eat. Imagine how barbaric it will feel to a person 500 years from now when they realize that our generation actually needed to slaughter animals for our nutritional intake. They'll probably look at us the way we look at cannibals.

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        All my foes are spelling or grammar Nazis.

        You have magic Nazis after you who want to correct your grammar?

        Dey-um!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      far in the future some asshole will stumble upon an almost entirely destroyed dvd of /. posts, will see yours and say "These people used some form of electronic medium to communicate. However, we, the self proclaimed clerisy insist that they didn't have any actual understanding of the technology they used, they simply used it to bitch about other people and yet were entirely ignorant of the underlying mechanisms that enabled their communication."

      The guy will be almost as much of a dick as you are. dick.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      No actual discovery of bacteria or idea WHY the remedy heals.

      Agreed. I have a feeling it went more like, "Baby Aapep is sick!"

      "Fetch the physician!"

      "We must feed him beer from the garden of Min. Also, wear this amulet."

      • by Gilmoure (18428)

        I'm wearing an amulet. I made it myself. So far, it's rubbed a raw spot on my chest so it must be working.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tmosley (996283)
      So, people in the Iron Age didn't have steel because they didn't know what an iron atom was? I guess we don't have nuclear reactors because we don't fully understand the composition of matter, either.

      Hell, Alexander Fleming didn't discover penicillin because he didn't know the atomic structure.

      Geez.
  • Mmm ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by thomst (1640045) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:52AM (#33433506) Homepage
    ... beer!
  • Let's see (Score:5, Funny)

    by Exitar (809068) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @05:52AM (#33433508)

    1. A new analysis of millennia old mummy bones shows high concentrations of tetracycline.
    2. The researchers traced the source of the antibiotics to the soil bacteria streptomyces present in the grain used to ferment the beer.
    3. Even the tibia and skull belonging to a 4-year-old were full of tetracycline.

    Why my conclusion isn't "the population regularly consumed tetracycline antibiotics knowing that it would cure certain sicknesses." but "the Nubian were a bunch of alcoholics, including the children"?

    • Or, "expecting mothers drank copious amounts of beer during pregnancy, for it's 'antibiotic' properties"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by delinear (991444)
        Quite a lot of expectant mothers drink copious amounts of beer just prior to pregnancy, too.
  • Either that or (Score:5, Interesting)

    by salesgeek (263995) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @06:02AM (#33433548) Homepage

    Ancient nubians used moldy grain when making beer.
    (Yes, streptomyces is a bacteria, but colonies look like and are often confused with mold.)

    Sometimes a duck is just a duck. Sometimes, a duck is a cornish game hen in an inflatable suit.

    • Re:Either that or (Score:5, Informative)

      by teridon (139550) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:03AM (#33434028) Homepage
      The full article notes that simple contamination wouldn't have generated enough tetracycline to match what they detected.

      The extent of the [osteon] labeling suggests that the population received tetracycline during osteon mineralization, which occurs during periods of ~80 days. This finding contradicts the notion that the osteons were labeled by a one time event of bacterial contamination of grains or foodstuffs. [...]In contrast, surface inoculation of cracked and water-treated grains would produce tetracycline, but in low yields compared with liquid fermentation

      So, the population must have cultured this brew to generate enough tetracycline. Whether it was deliberate (because they knew it had health benefits) or just a happy accident that they kept using the right culture is unanswered.

      • Re:Either that or (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jeppe Salvesen (101622) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:37AM (#33434774)

        The question is then if there is a higher dose of antibiotics in the remains of those who died from disease than those who died from accidents and violence. If there is a higher concentration of antibiotics in the remains of those who died from disease, then this suggests they knew about the healing properties of their beer. After all, the body is better at defeating infections when sober than when you're hammered so not drinking beer while being ill would be a better choice had they not known of the medicinal properties of the beer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by foniksonik (573572)

      Question should be: "what other kinds of mold grow on the plants being fermented which were not selected for due to their dangerous effects?" such as the mold that has LSD in it.

      There are many possible combinations that would not be good, so actively selecting one which is = cultivation of medicine, not randomness.

    • Making and drinking beer was extremely common in the ancient world - the Water was often full of parasites and disease and the process of turning water into beer killed most of them, this was "Small Beer" i.e. with a very low alcohol content, and everybody drank it rather than water ....

      In the ancient near east they drank Honey Beer (Mead) which is also slightly anti-biotic .....

    • If the NAX population did produce gruels or beer fermentations using Actinomycete bacteria, they would also have needed to inoculate the media used with greater than 10% of an active culture or previous fermentation broth to achieve the growth needed to produce sufficient quantities of tetracycline in a liquid fermentation medium (McCormick et al., 1959). In contrast, surface inoculation of cracked and water-treated grains would produce tetracycline, but in low yields compared with liquid fermentation (Novotny and Herold, 1960).

      If I am understanding the article correctly, it sounds like they are implying that either the Nubian population was using really moldy grain to brew their beer, or they might have stumbled upon something that made them want to use the moldy beer for some other reason. It could be something as simple as someone made a batch of beer with some moldy grain and found they liked the taste, to finding that someone got better after being given the beer which lead to them making it the standard brew. Hard to really

  • What... (Score:2, Troll)

    by ZDRuX (1010435)

    Even the tibia and skull belonging to a 4-year-old were full of tetracycline, suggesting that they were giving high doses to the child to try and cure him of illness.

    And why wouldn't they give this "cure" to a child? Did they have clinical trials that showed liver damage with extensive use of alcohol? And it's not like their younger population got drunk and got into bar fights.

    That's like finding out ancient tribes used to smoke marihuana or consume magic mushrooms and saying "Oh gosh! How could they do this, didn't they know Liberals in the future will outlaw fun and make it it illegal?!"

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fey000 (1374173)
      The average life expectancy we have today is significantly higher than it was back then. As such, it may well be that these Nubians never even experienced the consequences of liver damage outside a few extreme cases.
    • Yes, because Liberals are the big supporters of The War on Drugs. Oh wait no, that's religious conservatives. It may have been expanded by FDR(Who was more of a Statist than a Liberal, desperate times I suppose.), but it existed before then, and has certainly the pet project of many conservative.Presidents and policy makers since.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The beer most people drank had a very low alcohol content, and getting drunk in public was frowned upon even then ....

  • I think it's more likely that these people just ate a lot of dirt with the stuff in it.
  • by geogob (569250) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @06:28AM (#33433636)

    There are a lot of ancient evidence of indirect antibiotic use, usually through moulds grown on specific substrates (e.g. specific type of bread). The ancient use of penicillin is another good example of this. Of course, they didn't known what compound was responsible for this, but they nevertheless found efficient way to produce it and found out when it was good to used it to cure specific illnesses.

    What's particularly interesting about TFA, is that this research seems to suggest that the use of antibiotics was very common and systematic.

  • I don't see any around. Did it kill them off?

  • by tpstigers (1075021) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @06:57AM (#33433754)
    Why do modern people think everyone in the past was stupid? Is it really so much of a stretch to believe that ancient people were capable of figuring out that consuming certain substances helped cure certain ailments? They managed to figure out monumental architecture - is it so hard to believe that they could do the math and realize that drinking beer helped them feel better under certain circumstances? The fact that ancient people didn't have access to the internet doesn't mean they were idiots.
    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Making beer - so easy a caveman can do it!

      But beer was actually one of the earliest inventions of civilized humans, because it allowed them to drink liquids without having to worry much about waterborne diseases such as dysentery and cholera, and acted as a fantastic way of storing the food energy of grains. Basically, if a culture grew grains, they made alcohol with it.

  • by skeffstone (1299289) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @07:27AM (#33433854)
    Question: Is resistance to antibiotics energy-unfavourable for bacteria? Meaning, if antibiotics are not abundantly present to guide bacterial evolution, will bacterial strains revert to a 'simpler structure' and become susceptible to antibiotics again?
    • by dargaud (518470)

      Question: Is resistance to antibiotics energy-unfavourable for bacteria? Meaning, if antibiotics are not abundantly present to guide bacterial evolution, will bacterial strains revert to a 'simpler structure' and become susceptible to antibiotics again?

      Yes. But it takes a long time. I know, citation needed, blah, blah...

    • Most forms of anti-biotic resistance impose a cost (less efficient reproduction, use of resources to produce outer coatings that prevent contact with the anti-biotics, etc.). If anti-biotics stop being available for a long time, non-resistant forms that don't pay that cost eventually win out. How long that takes is open to question though.
  • Damn Fools (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OldHawk777 (19923) * <adelovantNO@SPAMverizon.net> on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @08:28AM (#33434178) Journal

    They did not consume high concentrations of tetracycline.

    They knew beer was good and healthy for people, and consumed very high concentrations of beer!

    Bless the Gods Byggver and Silenus for BEER!

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Wednesday September 01, 2010 @09:12AM (#33434524) Journal

    The presence of Carbon 14 in their bones is PROOF! PerOOF I tell you! that they had empirical knowledge of radionuclide dating techniques, and consumed precisely enough of the stuff to tell us just exactly how long ago they lived. But how did they know how far in the future it would be when we got their bones and dated them? Because they had the same empirical knowledge of the same psychic pills being taken by the researchers who could read their dead minds to learn that they had empirical knowledge of antibiotics when the evidence only indicates they absorbed endemic soil bacteria whether or not it might have come along with something that they ate which grew in the soil.

    1. Dirt (dirty dirt!)
    2. Beer (dirty beer!)
    3. ...
    4. SCIENCE!

    I say they got it mixed up. The bones were buried in the soil with the bugs in it. The researchers were the ones with the beer. I have empirical proof: This is my empire and I say that it's so.

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