ζῶσί τ’ἀπό κέγχρου καί κριθῆς, ἀφ’ ᾦν καί ποτόν αὐτοῖς ἔστιν: ἔλαιον δέ βούτυρον καί στέαρ: οὐδ’ ἀκρόδρυα ἔχουσι πλήν φοινίκων ὀλίγων ἐν κήποις βασιλικοῖς: ἔνιοι δέ καί πόαν σιτοῦνται καί κλῶνας ἁπαλούς καί λωτόν καί καλάμου ῥίζαν: κρέασι δέ χρῶνται αἵματι καί γάλακτι καί τυρῷ. σέβονται δ’ ὡς θεούς τούς βασιλέας κατακλείστους ὄντας καί οἰκουρούς τό πλέον.

[The Ethiopians] live on millet and barley; from these [grains], they make a drink. They have butter and animal fat, rather than olive oil; nor do they have fruit trees except for a few date-palms in the royal gardens. Some eat grasses, soft twigs, clovers, and reed-roots. They also use meat, blood, milk, and cheese. [The Ethiopians] worship their kings as gods who remain shut up in their homes most of the time.  

Book 17 of the Geography finds Rick Strabo in Ethiopia, a land to the south of Egypt that is centered around the Nile. Yes, readers, another Strabo passage.

Millet and barley beer? Sounds like another recreation! As we speak, I am malting the millet; I am . . . barley . . . able to control my excitement. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s post.

Millet is still used in Africa to make many types of beer. Uganda (near Ethiopia), especially, makes several beers, such as ajon and malwa, that have millet as the primary grain ingredient. In Ethiopia, the Gamo have household production of beers that are made from a variety of grains (millet, wheat, barley, or corn). Among these people, beer production is predominately a female enterprise (Arthur 2003).

For more on: modern Ethiopian beer and female brewers in Africa see our friend at the Timely Tipple.

Author’s Note
Strabo (64/63 BCE-24 CE)
See previous.


Arthur, J.W. 2003. “Brewing Beer: Status, Wealth, and Ceramic Use Alteration among the Gamo of South-Western Ethiopia.” World Archaeology 34(3): 516-528.

Image Source:
Wikimedia Commons, Ron Waddington


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