The honeybee originally migrated to the Levant and northeast Africa sometime during the early Pleistocene (300,000 BP) from her ancestral home in southeast Asia. The evolved honeybee is identified as Apis mellifera. Thanks to the pioneering studies of Eva Crane, there has been an increased interest in the role of bees and beekeeping and a desire to define the intimate relationship between bees and human societies. Recently, residue analyses have been performed on sherds, and from the results we are able to trace the spread of honey and beeswax over time and identify the practice of honey collection and beekeeping in a broad swath of the ancient Near East. Traces of beeswax have turned up in Neolithic and Chalcolithic contexts in the Levant, Anatolia, and Thracian Greece and on Cyprus and, later, Crete. The author uses his beekeeping experience to provide insights into ancient beekeeping practices.
bees; beekeeping; honey; archaeology; iconography; text
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