Buzzworthy: Administration of Beekeeping and the Honey Industry
Honey was the major sweetener for ancient Egyptians. It was used in food and medicine, and was a valuable tribute commodity. Honey production might have been a royal prerogative in the Old and Middle Kingdoms, but appears to be a more expansive industry from the New Kingdom onwards. This lecture assesses the industrialization of Egyptian honey production and the extent of royal and temple control over bee-keeping from the New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period through beekeeping titles, New Kingdom letters, the Wilbour Papyrus, Abydos Stela of Sheshonq, and Zenon archives. Location and size of beekeepers' land-holdings and hives, productivity levels, and evidence of honey grading, transport, and the taxation of bee-keepers suggest honey production as a larger scale industry than previously thought.
A snapshot of the archaeological site of Abydos and excavated honey pots may indicate the extent of state level production facilities and use.
Dr. Shelby Justl
Shelby Justl received an MA in Egyptology from the University of Liverpool and is now a PhD candidate in the Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department of the University of Pennsylvania. This lecture was first presented last year at the American Research Center in Egypt annual meeting.