Apiculture in Hittite cuneiform texts


EUROPEAN ZOOLOGICAL JOURNAL, vol.89, no.1, pp.1215-1222, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 89 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/24750263.2022.2135782
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1215-1222
  • Keywords: Hittite, cuneiform texts, apiculture, honey bee, honey, wax
  • Karadeniz Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The Hittite cuneiform texts dated to the 2nd millennium BCE contain some of the earliest information about the production of honey as an economic product and its consumption in daily life, as well as the theological perception of honey bees. Thanks to the information obtained from the texts, the material and spiritual role of apiculture have been tried to be revealed in this paper. According to laws, honey is a commercial product and is traded at a value. In addition, apiculture is a profession made with expert knowledge and the right of ownership of the honey bee colony and hive associated with this profession is legally protected. In the texts giving information about culinary knowledge, honey is added to bread as a sweetening product and used in the production of various sauces and some beverages. The aromatic properties of honey are also known. In this context, it is included in the mixtures used for incense in rituals. Also in rituals, some of its qualities were used in analogical spells. In mythological/religious texts, the honey bee is a creature that brings abundance and fertility in spring. In this context, it plays an important role in myths of finding the Disappearing Gods, the symbol of fertility. At the same time, it represents fertility, peace, and reconciliation as a creature associated with the Sun Goddess of the Earth, another symbol of fertility.