Biblical Archaeology Review 40:2, March/April 2014

Strata: What Is It?

A. Israelite rolling pin

B. Hittite rain stick

C. Irrigation pipe from Mesopotamia

D. Egyptian beehive

E. Mycenaean grape press

Answer: (D) Egyptian beehive

This 15-inch-long clay cylinder, recovered from the ancient Egyptian town of Kahun southwest of Saqqara, is a handcrafted beehive that was used to harvest valuable honey and wax during the Egyptian Middle Kingdom (c. 2055–1650 B.C.E.). One end of the narrow, 3-inch-wide cylinder (shown) features a small hole that allowed bees to fly in and out of the hive, while the opposite end is now open but was presumably covered with a removable lid or clay stopper that gave beekeepers access to the vessel’s interior. At harvest time, the lid was opened and beekeepers would blow smoke into the hive, flushing the bees out, allowing the honey and wax to be removed. Had it not been for the remains of an ancient bee found inside, however, researchers may never have realized the object’s function.1

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.