Humans Enjoyed Honey Even In Stone Age

Posted: Nov 11 2015, 7:41pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 11 2015, 8:00pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Humans Started Beekeeping 8,500 Years Ago: Study
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Human and honeybee relationship is much older than we originally thought

Honeybee holds a unique place in human culture and humans relay heavily on it both for food and for economic stability. 

According to a new research, humans have been enjoying the fruits of honeybee labor for almost 9,000 years, meaning human/honeybee relationship is far older than we originally thought.

A team of international researchers and archeologists have found traces of beeswax in the clay fabric of cooking vessels used by stone age farmers around 8,500 years ago.

The chemical analysis of more than 6000 prehistoric fragments of pottery from over 150 Old World archeological sites has made it possible to found the evidences of beekeeping in Neolithic period. It’s an outcome of a large scale investigation carried out at University of Bristol’s School of Chemistry for more than 20 years and involved sites across Europe, the Near East and  Northern Africa.

The oldest evidence came from southern Anatolia in Turkey which dates back to seventh millennium B.C. Many other evidences were found in central and western Europe as well as in North Africa.

The previous oldest evidences of keeping honeybees were found in Pharaonic Egyptian murals and prehistoric rock art, but latest are the oldest known so far.

"The most obvious reason for exploiting the honeybee would be for honey, as this would have been a rare sweetener for prehistoric people,” said Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque, lead author of the study. “However, beeswax could have been used in its own right for various technological, ritual, cosmetic and medicinal purposes, for example, to waterproof porous ceramic vessels.”

Professor Richard Evershed, one of the authors of the study said. "Our study is the first to provide unequivocal evidence, based solely on a chemical 'fingerprint', for the palaeoecological distribution of an economically and culturally important animal. It shows widespread exploitation of the honeybee by early farmers and pushes back the chronology of human-honeybee association to substantially earlier dates."

The study was published in journal Nature.


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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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