The British Museum is in possession of a 5,000 year-old tablet from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk, modern-day Iraq, which appears to show workers getting paid in beer. The only question now is, was it Duff brand and was the worker's first name Homer?
According to Ars Technica, residents of Uruk enjoyed many benefits of modern day life. They city was home to "massive ziggurats that would rival any of today's modern skyscrapers for sheer monumentality. People in Uruk exchanged goods for money, played board games, and sent each other letters on clay tablets using a writing system called cuneiform. They were also paid for their labor in beer."
Alison George, writing for New Scientist, elaborates on what the 3000 B.C. tablet's cuneiform language actually shows. "We can see a human head eating from a bowl, meaning 'ration,' and a conical vessel, meaning 'beer.' Scattered around are scratches recording the amount of beer for a particular worker."
Historically, Mesopotamia is known as the first place beer was ever mentioned. In a 3900-year-old Sumerian poem about the patron goddess of brewing, Ninkasi, the oldest surviving beer recipe is recorded which goes on to describe the production of it from barley by way of bread making.
According to George, the "beer for work" practice wasn't just confined to Mesopotamia; records show that workers in Egypt were paid around 4 to 5 liters of beer per day for working on the pyramids. Then there was Geoffrey Chaucer, who was paid in wine (about 252 gallons per year) by Richard II. Not too shabby.
Exit pic of what archeologists found on the other side of the tablet...