Wari Brewing Women

Before the Inca, in the years 600-1000 CE the Wari empire dominated Peru and the Tiwanaku reigned in Bolivia. [1] [2] Both societies colonized Moquegua valley including the Cerro Baúl high mesa where the Wari erected monumental buildings, one of which, and arguably one of the most important,  was a massive brewery.

And who was making the beer? Elite women.

Of particular interest to us is the inclusion of many tupu shaw pins within the brewery which indicated ‘a prominent involvement of elite women in chicha beer production’.[3]

According to the researchers’ remnants of corn, used in modern Peru to make chicha de jora, and Schinus molle – Peruvian pepper-tree berries which are still in use and ‘boiled or soaked whole to release the sugars in the resin pockets on their central pits. With pits discarded, the boied syrupy mash is fermented to create chicha de molle’.[4]

However, the researchers are not sure if these two individual brews were indeed made, or if the Wari combined the two. The brewery was huge, with 12 large vats holding 150 litres of beer, ‘indicating a production capacity of ~1,800 liters per batch, making this one of the largest pre-Inca breweries yet discovered in the Americas’.[5]

When the Wari left the site, they ritually burned down and sacrificed all the buildings, included the brewery. According to these researchers the ‘most elaborate’ destruction ceremony was the one conducted for this brewery and this ‘contained original equipment as well as final offerings’. [6] The brewery was a central part of the economy and a crucial element of their society.

[1]Michael E. Moseley, Donna J. Nash, Patrick Ryan Williams, Susan D. deFrance, Ana Miranda and Mario Ruales PNAS 2005 November, 102 (48) 17264-17271. Burning down the brewery: Establishing and evacuating an ancient imperial colony at Cerro Baúl, Peru

[2] Ibid. 17264

[3] Ibid. 17267.

[4] Ibid, 17267.

[5] Ibid, 17267.

[6] Ibid, 1726