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3000 year old honey from the tomb of Tutankhomun


The 3000 year old honey from Tutankhomon’s tomb is not the oldest honey in the world. People have learnt how to harvest honey since ancient times. This is confirmed by rock art in the Cuevas de la Araña, or Spider Caves in Valencia, Spain. The famous image “The Man of Bicorp” is 8,000 years old. Also in the Borjomi region of Georgia, the oldest honey in the world, 5500 years old, was found. Despite this, it was ancient Egypt that became the first civilisation in which we find evidence of systematic domestic beekeeping, not just the harvesting of honey from wild bees.

The discovery of honey in the tomb

A 3000 year old honey was found during an archaeological excavation in the Valley of the Kings. The excavation was carried out by the famous archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. And in the tomb of Tutankhomon (1332-1323 BCE), which had not been looted before, among many other items, was found a well sealed pot, which contained honey. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it is said that very brave archaeologists tasted this honey and it turned out to be edible. I just admire their courage. It is something I certainly couldn’t have done.

Why the honey from the tomb has survived to this day

Could honey really have been stored for that long? Honey being 3000 years old is simply unbelievable. It turns out it’s quite possible, thanks to the properties of honey.

  • There is very little moisture in honey. In mature honey it is only 16-19%. Therefore, bacteria and microorganisms can not develop in it and die.
  • Honey has acidic properties. Its pH is 3.5. Bacteria cannot develop in such an environment.
  • Bees enrich the nectar. Bees’ glands contain a special enzyme, glucose oxidase, which mixes with the nectar they collect to produce hydrogen peroxide, which kills microbes.

Thanks to these properties and proper storage, honey can be stored for a very long time.

The importance of honey in ancient Egypt

Honey was of great importance in ancient Egypt. It was believed that bees themselves were of divine origin and were the tears of the sun God Ra. The image of bees is found on many religious buildings of Ancient Egypt. Honey itself was used both for food and medical purposes. It was used to treat cuts, burns, and eyes to fight infections. Honey was used as an ingredient in the preparation of medicines.

Leaving honey in Tutankhomon’s tomb with the dead pharaoh had great symbolism. It was believed that this product was as necessary in the afterlife as it was in life. It is tasty and can be healed, and it comes from bees, which also had a divine origin. In general, the product was good for everything and was appreciated by the Ancient Egyptians.

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