Abstract

Palynological analysis of a unique, large-scale apiary from the tenth–early ninth centuries BCE town at Tel Reḥov (Jordan Valley, northern Israel) was aimed at identifying the plants used for honey production, reconstructing ancient environments and identifying exotic plants that may indicate the geographical origin of apiculture at the site. Pollen samples from various contexts represent the local environment, whether the more general (soil samples, cylinder wall) or bee-biased (hives, combs). High Ziziphus and Chenopodiaceae/Amaranthaceae ratios accord with the Irano–Turnanian vegetation of the site’s vicinity. The ancient hives were placed within the old town, hence the dominance of ruderal plants. The fossil pollen represents the full spring to autumn flowering season. Nothing in the pollen spectra suggests an exotic source of the hives’ contents or the material the cylinders were made of. If the bees were originally brought from afar, they subsequently exploited the local plants.

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