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By the time the Europeans reached the Americas in the 15th century, several native civilizations had developed alcoholic beverages.According to a post-conquest Aztec document, consumption of the local "wine" (pulque) was generally restricted to religious ceremonies but was freely allowed to those who were older than 70 years.The latter involved storing the beverages in tombs of the deceased for their use in the after-life.Numerous accounts of the period stressed the importance of moderation, and these norms were both secular and religious.
(Beverages of this kind are known today as cauim or chicha.) This chewing technique was also used in ancient Japan to make sake from rice and other starchy crops.A document from that time mentions nuns having an allowance of six pints of ale each day.Cider and pomace wine were also widely available; grape wine was the prerogative of the higher classes.While Egyptians did not generally appear to define drunkenness as a problem, they warned against taverns (which were often houses of prostitution) and excessive drinking.After reviewing extensive evidence regarding the widespread but generally moderate use of alcoholic beverages, the nutritional biochemist and historian William J.
"In ancient times people always drank when holding a memorial ceremony, offering sacrifices to gods or their ancestors, pledging resolution before going into battle, celebrating victory, before feuding and official executions, for taking an oath of allegiance, while attending the ceremonies of birth, marriage, reunions, departures, death, and festival banquets." Marco Polo's 14th century record indicates grain and rice wine were drunk daily and were one of the treasury's biggest sources of income.