b) Anthropological approach

This divine product of the bees was left to ferment in water, sometimes up to one year. Anthropologists interestingly point out that ‘fermentation’ was symbolically attached to immortality and resurrection in Antiquity, for it modified, developed and prolonged the life of inert foodstuffs or beverages in mysterious and arbitrary ways. Laurence Bérard explains: “La fermentation introduit dans la matière inerte une sorte d’animation spéctaculaire […], elle fait sortir la vie de la mort et symbolise parfaitement la résurrection”.2373In other words, the passage from inert to fermented foodstuffs or beverages by the mysterious process of fermentation was a powerful symbol of resurrection, renewal, purification and immortality, which could be believed to be transferred to the people when consumed. For example, the transmutation of must, which is perishable, into wine by means of fermentation, was interpreted in Antique Greece as an allegory of the passage from the earthly life to eternal life.2374 It can inferred from this example that mead was also regarded as a beverage symbolising resurrection and immortality, explaining why it was divine and sacred.


Bérard & Marchenay, 2005, pp. 13-28.


Brun, 1999, pp. 19-23.