July 1st, 2014
A History of the World in Six Glasses: Guided Reading Q&A
Introduction “Vital Fluids”
1.) What is the author's main thesis (argument) in setting up his book? Why/how are
these fluids “vital” ?
The author wants to show that beverages had a great impact on history. He wants to tell his
readers that drinks have had a greater impact on history than normally recognized. The fluids are
“vital” because without them, humans wouldn't have accomplished so much. Fluids allowed people to
farm, think, trade, and survive.
“Beer in Mesopotamia and Egypt” (Chapters 1 & 2)
1.) How might beer have influenced the transition from hunting and gathering
(Paleolithic) to agricultural-based (Neolithic) societies ?
Beer played a big role in the acceptance of agriculture. Humans began growing grains for beer,
and this led to the growing of other crops. Civilizations formed, due to food surplus and specialized
labor. People settled near the farming areas, and crops became part of their daily meals.
2.) What does the story of beer tell you about social and gender roles in ancient SW
Asia and Egypt?
Beer was used as a form of currency. It was measured in sila, which is equivalent to one liter.
People were given sila based on their social ranking. Senior officials received the most. Ladies of the
court received a bit less than senior officials. Junior officials received even less. Women and children
received the least. Soldiers, policeman, and scribes also were given sila for their work. This shows that
people were not treated equally.
3.) Would the earliest civilizations of SW Asia and Egypt have been as prosperous
without the discovery of beer ? Support your answer with evidence from the text.
No, the earliest civilizations of SW Asia and Egypt would not be prosperous without beer.
According to the text, bread and beer “were convenient and widespread forms of payment and
currency.” Without a currency, the civilizations would not have been organized, and they wouldn't
“Wine in Greece and Rome” (Chapters 3 & 4)
1.) What does the story of wine tell you about social and gender roles in the
Mediterranean world ? How did this change over time ?
The story of wine tells me that the people of Nimrud were not treated equally. Rations of wine
were only given to about six thousand people in the royal household. High officials received the most.
However, every worker of the household would receive wine. This changed when wine became
a drink for Christians. In Greece and Rome, everyone was able to drink wine, including slaves.
2.) What effect does wine have on the development of Christianity and of Islam
Wine had a positive effect on Christianity. According to the Bible, Jesus' first miracle was when
he transformed six jars of water into wine. Also, he often spoke about wine in his parables. At the Last
Supper, he offered wine to his disciples. That lead to the role of wine in the Eucharist, where wine
represents the blood of Christ, and bread represents his body.
On the other hand, wine had a negative effect on the development of Islam. Muslims are not
allowed to drink wine, or an alcoholic beverages. According to tradition, this is because two of
Muhammad's disciples got into a fight during a drinking party. In the Islamic world, alcohol is
associated with evil and Satan.
“Spirits in the Colonial Period” (Chapters 5 & 6)
1.) How did spirits advance/ accelerate colonialism ?
Spirits were able to be traded easily. They were compact, which allowed them to be shipped
without trouble. They were very important goods for trade. When the...
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