Mel Novum: New directions in the archaeology of beekeeping in the Roman world


  • David Wallace-Hare (University of Toronto)
  • David Quixal (University de València)

The Iberian Peninsula was an incredibly important beekeeping zone during the Roman period. Through increasingly inventive archaeological being carried out in the Peninsula this fact is becoming more widely known (Bonet and Mata 1997, Morais 2006, Bernardes and Morais et al. 2014, Morín and de Almeida 2014). There have, however, been few conferences or panels focused on Roman beekeeping, fewer still provincial Roman beekeeping. The current workshop seeks to showcase new approaches and challenges in the field through a case study of Roman Hispania. While numerous ceramic beehives from pre-Roman and Roman Spain speak to the importance of the industry, these hives disappear in the III century CE, when hives of biodegradable materials like cork or wicker replaced them. Apicultural archaeology thus faces unique challenges of ephemerality and representativeness of extant remains. To that end, the workshop brings together 3 groups of scholars working on several key honey producing areas of the Peninsula to discuss these challenges and to address a central question in apicultural archaeology: is our current evidence representative of the scale of apiculture?

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