Honey In Egypt

The most fertile field, in historical research can be found in Egypt. Ancient records show that honey played a large part in establishing a paramount role in social, economic, and spiritual life of ancient Egypt. It’s unquestionable that honey was a large part the daily life in the land of Pharaohs. One of the oldest hieroglyphic carvings to be seen in in Egyptian temples, on sarcophagi, and obelisks, give good documented visual proof that bees and honey had a vital, and significance role in the daily life of the population of Egypt. These monuments have offered us proof, and symbolical proof of bees, and their principal end product, honey. On the Flamic and Pamphilic obelisks, on the ancient “Rosetta stone”, on the pillars of the Temple of Karnak, and on the obelisk of Luxor which dates back to 1836, we find many identifiable images of bees, and beehives, as well as persons working with bees. On the colossal sarcophagus of “Rameses II”I (20th Dynasty) in the “Musée Louvre”, on the sarcophagus of a priest who died during the reign of “Psametic I” (26th Dynasty) and on a granite statue of Rameses II, there are numerous depictions of bees, and pictorial designs to include bees. “King Menes”, the founder of the First Dynasty of Egyptian Kings, the date of whose rule is variously given as 4000 to 5000 B.C. (according to Brugsch, 4445 B.C.), was called “the Beekeeper.

Next to hieroglyphic representations, the wall paintings of the royal tombs have demonstrate the ancient national importance of honey in Egypt. There are only a very few ancient burial vaults in which bees and honey are not represented pictorially. Honeycombs, honey cakes, sealed jars of honey, and lotus blooms were placed next to the sarcophagi as food for the departed deads souls. In the tomb of “Pa-Ba-Sa”, in Thebes, the entire wall shows a pictorial which depicts rows, and rows of bees. A man is shown to be pouring honey into a form of pail or container, another man is seen kneeling, and praying before a pyramid of honeycombs. On the wall of the tomb of “Rekh-Mi-Re” all phases of the honey industry are depicted in great detail. Showing how the honeycombs were removed from the hives with the aid of smoke, the baking of honey cakes, and the filling and sealing of the honey jars. etc.

From a literary aspect there is little left in Egypt so far as the subject is concerned. During the conflagration of 312 B.C., the great library of Alexandria was completely destroyed, as were its treasures, and documents. It’s a remarkable documented fact that one of Egypts “seers” predicted this very catastrophe: “Oh Egypt … only unbelievable legends will remain for later generations .. engraved on stones, monuments, obelisks and pyramids.”

The ancient documents of the “Egyptian Papyri”, gives representation to the oldest civilization of the world, often refer to bees, and their honey, especially making mention to the great medicinal value of honey. Much of ancient Egyptian medicines contained quantities of honey,as well as wine, and milk. There is also good proof that honey was often sacrificed to “deities or Gods”. The frequent symbolical use of bees in Egypt, could only be attributed to the fact that honey was an important item of commerce, and as well a valuable food and medicinal substance. However, also to the admiration of the Egyptians for the industry, economy, intelligence, and of the bees and their loyalty to a sovereign. It appears that bees may have been creatures which were entirely subjugated to a ruler. For instance, next to the signatures of an Egyptian king, there was a figure of a bee.

The ancient Egyptians were habitual beer drinkers. The land was ill-suited to the cultivation of the grape-vine. Xenophon (400 B.C.) mentions an Egyptian beverage made of wheat, barley and honey. On the decline of the Egyptians and the rise of the Greeks and Romans, wine made of grapes became a drink of civilization.