Mead is known from many sources of ancient history throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, although archaeological evidence of it is ambiguous. Its origins are lost in prehistory. "It can be regarded as the ancestor of all fermented drinks," Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat has observed, "antedating the cultivation of the soil."
Claude Lévi-Strauss makes a case for the invention of mead as a marker of the passage "from nature to culture." Mead has played an important role in the beliefs and mythology of some peoples. One such example the Mead of Poetry, is a mead of Norse mythology crafted from the blood of the wise being Kvasir which turns the drinker into a poet or scholar.