Some people have sugested that mead developed in Africa some 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. This idea rests on the argument that modern honey bees were well developed and widespread across Africa at that time and all the elements existed for the creation of mead. Archaeologist have dated mead making to 9,000 years ago in China based on chemical analysis that has found evidence of honey, rice and chemicals related to fermentation on clay shards. Archaeologists have found similar evidence on European ceramic fragments from nearly 5,000 years ago. The oldest written references to mead show up in around 4,000 year old Vedic and later Hindu texts. Roughly 2,400 years ago references to mead show up in Aristotle and other Greek writings. Acording to classical Greek texts the ancients believed that bees harvested the honeydew of the gods and mead was the resulting sacred drink. Some of the Greek mead lore may trace back to neolithic beliefs of the religious role of bee swarms and these swarms and mead may have been precursors to the cult of Dionysus. Mead played a heavy role in the traditions and mythologies of the Danes, Norse Vikings, the Celts, various Germanic tribes, and Anglo-Saxons. Medieval monasteries kept bees to make candles and made and sold mead as a sideline. The secularization of the Monasteries, the protestant reformation, the discovery and exploitation of sugar cane and sugar beets for sweeteners, and the discovery of cheaper and arguably more consistent and brighter forms of illumination brought on the slow decline of mead. While beer, cider, sake and wine are all great drinks with long histories, mead has deeper mythical connections that fire up things in the human soul. Just as craft beer and cider emerged from the 80's and began edging their way into the popular palate, mead is starting to claim a miniscule, but growing share of their craft beverage throat. It is harder to find but often worth the effort.