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Original article: Kanu.org

By MELISSA SEVIGNY  MAR 17, 2021

File image #3521, AMNH Library, Anasazi pottery, Pueblo Bonito, Chcao Canyon, New Mexico
CREDIT AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY


A thousand years ago, the Ancestral Puebloans in Chaco Canyon crafted cylinder-shaped drinking vessels. They look like tall water glasses decorated with beautiful triangles and zigzag lines. Archeologists think these jars had a special purpose: they were used for drinking chocolate.

Patricia Crown, a researcher at the University of New Mexico, noticed the jars looked similar to vessels used by the Mayans for chocolate drinking. Crown tested pottery sherds from Chaco Canyon, and, sure enough, turned up chemical markers specific to cacao. The finding implies extensive trade or migration between the residents of the Colorado Plateau and their neighbors in Mesoamerica. Chocolate must have been among the goods carried up from the south, along with copper bells and scarlet macaws.

It’s not clear how Southwest people prepared their cacao. But the Mayans and Aztecs sweetened it with honey or added ground maize. They made the chocolate light and frothy by pouring it from jar to jar. Crown suspects frothing wasn’t just to improve the taste, but a kind of performance art, as well.

Around the start of the 12th century, the people of Chaco Canyon stopped using the chocolate drinking vessels—in a dramatic way. They piled up more than a hundred of the jars in a room and set fire to it. But they didn’t give up chocolate… they just drank it out of mugs instead.

Today, the Chaco Heritage Tribal Association is conducting the first-ever tribal led survey of the Chaco area, with Hopi, Zuni, and Pueblo people looking back to the lives of their ancestors.

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First published June 25, 2010
via First Beehives from Ancient Israel Discovered

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First posted June23 2010
via 9,000 year old beer recreated

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On this day ten years ago…
via Rosslyn Chapel was haven for bees

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Source: Maya Beekeepers

Clay bee hive

Evidence of the handiwork of early Maya beekeepers has been unearthed at the ancient city of Nakum in northeastern Guatemala. Beneath a vast ritual platform dating from around 100 B.C. to A.D. 300, a team led by Jagiellonian University archaeologist Jaroslaw Zralka discovered a foot-long, barrel-shaped ceramic tube with covers at each end. Initially, Zralka and his colleagues thought the artifact might be a drum buried as an offering. But they soon learned that the tube was nearly identical to wooden beehives still made from hollow logs by Maya in the northern Yucatan. Most pre-Columbian beehives were also likely made from wood, but none of these have been discovered. The Nakum tube is the only known surviving example of an ancient Maya beehive.

“Honey was probably among the most popular products exchanged and traded by the pre-Columbian Maya,” says Zralka. “So beekeeping was a very important activity in their daily life, as well as in religious activities.” Near the beehive, Zralka and his team found nine unbaked clay heads arranged in a circle, perhaps depicting gods important to the continued success of Nakum’s beekeepers.

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Original article:

Livescience.com

By Rossella Lorenzi,

Scientists discovered charred honeycombs, preserved honeybees (shown here) and honeybee products on the floor of a workshop at an Etruscan trade center in Milan, Italy.
Credit: Lorenzo Castellano

 

The charred remains of 2,500-year-old honeycombs, as well as other beekeeping artifacts, have been discovered in an Etruscan workshop in northern Italy.

The findings included the remains of a unique grapevine honey produced by traveling beekeepers along rivers, according to a new study.

“The importance of beekeeping in the ancient world is well known through an abundance of iconographic, literary, archaeometric and ethnographic [or cultural] sources,” Lorenzo Castellano, a graduate student at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and first author of the new study, told Live Science. (In archaeometry, scientists use physical, chemical and mathematical analyses to study archaeological sites.)

Even so, since honeycombs are perishable, direct fossil evidence of them is “extremely rare,” he added. [24 Amazing Archaeological Discoveries]

Castellano and his colleagues at the University of Milan and the Laboratory of Palynology and Paleoecology of the Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental Processes at Italy’s National Research Council (CNR-IDPA) in Milan found several charred honeycombs, preserved honeybees and honeybee products scattered on the floor of a workshop at the Etruscan trade center of the ancient site of Forcello, near Bagnolo San Vito in the Mantua province.

Dating to around 510 B.C. to 495 B.C., the building had been destroyed by a violent fire and was later sealed by a layer of clay so it could be built over.
“The findings are therefore preserved in situ, albeit heavily fragmented and often warped by the heat of fire,” Castellano and his team wrote in July in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

The researchers examined bee-breads (a mixture of pollen and honey), fragments of charred honeycombs, remains of Apis mellifera (honeybees) and a large amount of material resulting from honeycombs that had melted and clumped together.

Chemical analysis and an examination of pollen and spores collected at the site confirmed the presence of beeswax and honey on a large portion of the room. Moreover, they found that pollen from a grapevine (Vitis vinifera) abounded in samples from the melted honey and in the honeycomb fragments, indicating the presence of a unique grapevine honey produced from predomesticated or early-domesticated varieties of grapevine.

“Vitis pollen is missing in bee-breads, suggesting that we are dealing with an unprecedented Vitis honey preserved by charcoalification,” the researchers concluded. (Charcoalification, also called carbonization, is a process in which organic carbon substances are converted into a carbon-containing residue.)
Today, grapevine honey really has nothing to do with bee-produced honey; it is a kind of syrup produced by boiling grape juice.

The analyses revealed other unique aspects about the Etruscan beekeeping.

Pollen composition showed that honeybees were feeding on plants, including grapevines and fringed water lily, from an aquatic landscape, some of which weren’t known to grow in the area.

Such a scenario would have been possible beekeepers who collected bees along a river while aboard a boat, bringing the bees and their hives to workshops to extract the honey and beeswax.

Indeed, the finding confirms what Roman scholar Pliny the Elder wrote more than four centuries later about the town of Ostiglia, some 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the site. According to Pliny, the Ostiglia villagers simply placed the hives on boats and carried them 5 miles (8 km) upstream at night.

“At dawn, the bees come out and feed, returning every day to the boats, which change their position until, when they have sunk low in the water under the mere weight, it is understood that the hives are full, and then they are taken back and the honey is extracted,” Pliny wrote.

The finding also shows the Etruscans’ high level of specialization in beekeeping.

“It also provides unique information on the ancient Po Plain environment [a geographical feature in northern Italy] and on honeybees’ behavior in a pre-modern landscape,” Castellano and colleagues concluded.

One of the honeycomb fragments found at the Etruscan workshop showed clearly the structure’s hexagonal, thin-walled cells.
Credit: Lorenzo Castellano

 

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collecting honey

Original Article:

bristol.ac.uk

November 2015

Humans have been exploiting bees as far back as the Stone Age, according to new research from the University of Bristol published in Nature today.

Previous evidence from prehistoric rock art is inferred to show honey hunters and Pharaonic Egyptian murals show early scenes of beekeeping. However, the close association between early farmers and the honeybee remained uncertain.

This study has gathered together evidence for the presence of beeswax in the pottery vessels of the first farmers of Europe by investigating chemical components trapped in the clay fabric of more than 6,000 potsherds from over 150 Old World archaeological sites.

The distinctive chemical ‘fingerprint’ of beeswax was detected at multiple Neolithic sites across Europe indicating just how widespread the association between humans and honeybees was in prehistoric times. For example, beeswax was detected in cooking pots from an archaeological site in Turkey, dating to the seventh millennium BC – the oldest evidence yet for the use of bee products by Neolithic farmers.

The paper bring together over 20 years of research carried out at Bristol’s Organic Geochemistry Unit (School of Chemistry) led by Professor Richard Evershed. Co-authors of the paper include archaeologists involved in the large scale investigation of sites across Europe, the Near East and Northern Africa.

Dr Mélanie Roffet-Salque, lead author of the paper, said: “The most obvious reason for exploiting the honeybee would be for honey, as this would have been a rare sweetener for prehistoric people. 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.”

The lack of evidence for beeswax use at Neolithic sites above the 57th parallel North as in Scotland and Fennoscandia points to an ecological limit to the natural occurrence of honeybees at that time.

Professor Evershed said: “The lack of a fossil record of the honeybee means it’s ecologically invisible for most of the past 10,000 years. Although evidence from ancient Egyptian murals and prehistoric rock art suggests mankind’s association with the honeybee dates back over thousands of years, when and where this association emerged has been unknown – until now.

“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.”

Paper

‘Widespread Exploitation of the Honeybee by Early Neolithic Farmers’ by Roffet-Salque et al in Nature

 

 

 

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You can check out my posts about making my own mead by going to archives for 2011, February through August. Thanks

Admit it, you thought the only time mead was consumed nowadays was at Renaissance Fairs or following a rousing day of LARPing – that’s Live Action Role Playing, for those of you not in the know. But, contrary to popular belief, this ancient honey wine is not just for the Dungeons and Dragons set. Made since ancient times from fermented honey and water, mead is a great drink to add to your fall table, especially if you’ll be celebrating Rosh Hashanah this week. Think of mead as the more adult version of apples and honey with the mead being your honey and a delicious slice of sweet apple cake standing in for the traditional apple slice.

We can trace mead’s origins all the way back to 7000 BCE and mainland China, where archeological digs have unearthed ancient pottery with mead residue inside. From there the recipe for mead traveled to Europe and Africa. In both locations historians believe mead caught on in places where the climates and/or soils didn’t support healthy grape production. With no ability to make wine, mead was a great option, since all one needed was access to bees and water.

As society progressed and we developed the ability to trade with locations much further away from us, many forgot about Mmad, losing the need for it with the influx of wine from other regions. But some cultures across the world maintained mead as a staple beverage, including Ethiopia, which continued to perfect the beverage known as Tej — a beverage that is still drunk at Ethiopian tables to this day.

Recently, mead has experienced a resurgence in the U.S., with craft meaderies opening across the country to brew meads of all different styles. While the traditional sweet mead can still be found, craft mead brewers are now making meads that truly push the boundaries of the beverage, from the very dry and bubbly almost sparkling wine style, to the sweet and fruity that is reminiscent of Riesling.

As the industry has expanded, so has experimentation, with many brewers striving to make meads that not only appeal to their tastes, but that of their peers as well. In many instances, this means new styles of the elixir mixed with fresh fruits and berries, or meads that are “hopped” and made in the style of an American IPA. While mead used to also be a beverage that, historically, was simply fermented and then bottled, some brewers have started to age it like wine, letting the mead rest in stainless steel or oak for up to a year before placing it in the bottle. The result of all of this experimentation is a high quality beverage that is definitely like nothing you may have had with that turkey leg ten years ago at the Renaissance Fair.

Just like wine, mead can only be great if the ingredients used to make it are, and for mead that all begins with the flowers. Because the base ingredients of mead are simply water and honey, the flowers the bees visited in the process of creating their sticky sweet syrup are incredibly important. Some people say drinking mead is like drinking the elixir of thousands of flowers at once and each mead can have completely different characteristics depending on the types of flowers visited by the bees.

Because mead is usually at least a little sweet, it’s a great accompaniment for spicier foods, which is probably why it’s been a constant on the Ethiopian table for all this time. It also pairs wonderfully with stews, hard sharp cheese and of course desserts.

So add mead to your table, and say cheers to a sweet new year — you won’t be disappointed.

Header image via Boykov / Shutterstock.com

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Original article:

vinepair.com

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Wine Cellar Excavated May Be Worlds Oldest and Largest Ever Discovered

Archaeologists in Israel have excavated a palace that possibly has a personal wine cellar that may be considered the worlds oldest and also larger than any that have ever been discovered before. Numerous archaeological groups have been working on unearthing the Canaanite fortress of Tel Kabri since the late 1980’s.

The Middle Bronze Age palace, which was built during 1900 B.C. to 1600 B.C., covers a massive 200 acres in the northwestern region of modern-day Israel. The newest team of scientists claim that they found the palace’s wine cellar, and it is something that even the most magnificent of wine connoisseurs would be jealous of.

Archaeologist Andrew Koh told the media that what was so fascinating about the wine cellar besides its size was that it was part of a household economy. It was the owner’s private wine vault and the wine was never intended to be given away as part of any system of providing for the public. It was only for his personal enjoyment and the support of his power.

So basically, even though despite the details that it might have been the biggest and oldest wine cellar found to the present date in the Middle East, it was used strictly for private pleasure, and not for any commercial storing.

A research report recently printed up in the science journal PLoS ONE, explained how Dr. Koh and his team unearthed the huge room located just to the west of the palace’s central courtyard. It was full of gigantic, but slender necked vessels that were believed to have held the wine. Three of the over 40 jars discovered were carefully examined and researchers found trace amounts of tartaric acid, which is one of the key acids found in wine. They also discovered syringic acid, which is a mixture linked to red wine specifically, and remains from herbs, tree resign, and even honey – all various additives to wine.

Dr. Koh explained that if the wine was still intact, he and his team would have been able to taste a fairly refined drink. Someone was actually sitting there and the person had years if not generations of experience behind him saying that these items are what best preserves the wine and gives it a better taste. It is something amazing to think about when a modern day person actually takes the time to dwell on it.

He was asked about how much wine was really in the cellar. The wine vessels were entirely of uniform size and stored just under 530 gallons of alcohol, according to preliminary reports that were presented at the yearly meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research which occurred in November of 2013.

That would be the equal to around 3,000 modern day bottles of wine. Archaeologists in Israel dug up a palace that possibly has a personal wine cellar considerably greater than any wine vault that has ever been discovered before. Several different archaeological groups have been working on unearthing the Canaanite fortress since the late 1980’s.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

Science World Report

CBS News

Nature World News

Original article:
guardianlv.com

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An Early Bronze Age burial mound in Georgia, known as a kurgan, held in its depths astonishingly well preserved wild fruits. Sitting underground for thousands of years, left as nourishment for the hungry souls of the dead, these fruits even exuded the aroma of fresh fruit when researchers sliced into them.

They were preserved in honey. Honey was also found on the bones in the burial chamber, suggesting it may have been used for embalming the corpses.

Honey has a low concentration of water and a high concentration of sugar. Much like salt, it can push the water out of bacteria cells, drying them up before they can get to the food (or corpses) the honey is protecting. Honey is essentially a combination of sugars and hydrogen peroxide. Just as hydrogen peroxide is used to clean bacteria from wounds, it can also kill bacteria that cause food to spoil.

Ancient Assyrians, who lived in a region east of Egypt, also preserved corpses in honey. When Alexander the Great conquered the Persian city of Susa in the 4th century B.C., he found large quantities of 200-year-old purple dye well-preserved under a layer of honey.

Skipping ahead to 2011, researchers isolated a bacterial strain in some types of honey that has very unusual properties. One of it’s surprising characteristics is its ability to produce a compound, thurincin H, that forms into a helical structure. This structure may allow it to infiltrate the membranes of other bacteria to destroy it.

“Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the compound mimics the structure of the molecules that form bacterial membranes … but it may disrupt those membranes by forming a rigid pore,” explained a Cornell University article.

Other Significant Finds in the Kurgan

Dr. Zurab Makharadze, head of the Centre of Archaeology at the Georgian National Museum, explained via email some other significant finds at the kurgan.

The mound was about 330 feet across, and the inner space of the construction was 30 by 20 feet. It contained two four-wheeled wagons, some of the best surviving examples of such devices from the time.
Archaeologists found evidence of ancient robbery, including tunnels into the chamber and disturbed artifacts and human remains. It is possible some of the robbers had attended the burial ceremony, as some evidence suggest the thieves knew what was placed where, Makharadze told Georgian publication Agenda.

It appears the family contained in the chamber was accompanied in death by servants—human sacrifices.

Riches remained despite the robberies, including ornamented vessels, amber beads, and 23 golden items, “among them rare and high artistic crafted jewelry,” Makharadze said. A unique wooden armchair was found, along with nuts, red berries, textiles, and arrowheads.

The good condition and unique nature of many of the artifacts make this an important site, Makharadze said: “[It] keeps huge scientific information and its importance is undoubtedly obvious for Caucasian and Near East archaeology.”

Agenda noted that the kurgan sites are as important to understanding ancient Georgian culture as the pyramids are in the study of ancient Egypt. The human remains are being tested at a lab in Germany to determine the relationships between the people buried in this kurgan and how they died.

Original article:
By Tara MacIsaac, Epoch Times |

theepochtimes.com

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