Honey In The Pyramids

It might be hard to bee-lieve but the 3,000-year-old sweet treat is still edible

While excavating Egypt’s famous pyramids, archaeologists have found pots of honey in an ancient tomb.

The honey, dating back approximately 3,000 years, is the world’s oldest sample – and still perfectly edible.

The secret behind honey’s eternal shelf life is a range of factors. Hydrogen peroxide, acidity and lack of water work together to make this sticky substance last forever.

The ancient Egyptians used honey for a multitude of purposes including as a sweetener, a gift for the gods and an ingredient in embalming fluid.

Thanks to Egyptian drawings depicting ancient beekeeping, we’ve long known that humans have worked with bees for thousands of years but we didn’t know just how far back our relationship with bees went – until now.

In a study released this month, scientists discovered that humans have been using bee products, like honey and wax, for at least 9,000 years.

Researchers from the University of Bristol analysed pottery from prehistoric vessels and found evidence of early farmers using beeswax as far back as the Stone Age.

"Now we know that beeswax was used continuously from the seventh millennium BCE, probably as an integral part in different tools, in rituals, cosmetics, medicine, as a fuel or to make receptacles waterproof," said researcher Alfonso Alday.

Previous studies were only able to date the use of bee products to around 2,400 BCE.

Discuss this article

Newsletter

Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
Submit