Once upon a time in the country of Georgia, a very rich woman was entombed with necessities for the afterlife – including several containers of honey. The 5,500-year-old evidence suggests that the woman was a honey harvester by trade, as three varieties were discovered inside vessels remaining after many tomb raiders took the (presumably) more valuable objects. Because this find predates the formerly-oldest honey by about 2000 years, it also suggests that Georgians practiced honey harvesting (and possibly beekeeping) in more specialized ways and much earlier than the Egyptians did. Two years ago, the world’s oldest shoe — dubbed “the Ur Sneaker” — was discovered in a nearby dig site
Georgians have long laid claim to being the first winemakers in the world, but could they also be pioneer beekeepers? After a thorough examination of some five-millennia-plus-old jars unearthed in Georgia, archeologists have declared that the artifacts contain the world’s oldest honey.
The honey stains found in the ceramic vessels, found 170 kilometers west of Tbilisi, are believed to be made by bees that buzzed around in Georgia 5,500 years ago — some 2,000 years older than the honey found in Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb, which had been considered the oldest before, Rustavi2 proudly pointed out.
As in ancient Egypt, in ancient Georgia, honey was apparently packed for people’s journeys into the afterlife. And more than one type, too — along for the trip were linden, berry, and a meadow-flower variety.
The honey vessels, two human teeth and other artifacts were found in the tomb of an apparent female noblewoman, which was discovered in 2003 during the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline.
This is not the first time that archaeological excavations have placed Georgia or the South Caucasus on the world map. Early human skulls found in Georgia’s Dmanisi region have challenged beliefs on human evolution and migration. Two years ago, neighboring Armenia found the world’s oldest shoe.
As archeologists keep digging ever deeper, chances are that the Caucasus could soon rank again in another “world’s oldest” catego