The Tears of Re: Beekeeping in Ancient Egypt

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Oxford University Press, 2015 - Bee culture - 133 pages
2 Reviews
According to Egyptian mythology, when the ancient Egyptian sun god Re cried, his tears turned into honey bees upon touching the ground. For this reason, the honey bee was sacrosanct in ancient Egyptian culture. From the art depicting bees on temple walls to the usage of beeswax as a healing ointment, the honey bee was a pervasive cultural motif in ancient Egypt because of its connection to the sun god Re. Gene Kritsky delivers a concise introduction of the relationship between the honey bee and ancient Egyptian culture, through the lenses of linguistics, archeology, religion, health, and economics. Kritsky delves into ancient Egypt's multifaceted society, and traces the importance of the honey bee in everything from death rituals to trade. In doing so, Kritsky brings new evidence to light of how advanced and fascinating the ancient Egyptians were.

This richly illustrated work appeals to a broad range of interests. For archeology lovers, Kritsky delves into the archeological evidence of Egyptian beekeeping and discusses newly discovered tombs, as well as evidence of manmade hives. Linguists will be fascinated by Kritsky's discussion of the first documented written evidence of the honeybee hieroglyph. And anyone interested in ancient Egypt or ancient cultures in general will be intrigued by Kritsky's treatment of the first documented beekeepers. This book provides a unique social commentary of a community so far removed from modern humans chronologically speaking, and yet so fascinating because of the stunning advances their society made. Beekeeping is the latest evidence of how ahead of their times the Egyptians were, and the ensuing narrative is as captivating as every other aspect of ancient Egyptian culture.


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User Review  - Kellswitch - LibraryThing

A look at bees and bee keeping in ancient Egypt. This is a fascinating topic and before hearing about this book I had no idea how important bees were in ancient Egypt. The book covers a lot of ground ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Welsh_eileen2 - LibraryThing

A fascinating account of beekeeping in Ancient Egypt! Read full review


CHAPTER 1 Beekeeping Begins
Beekeeping during the Old Kingdom
Beekeeping during the Middle Kingdom
Beekeeping during the New Kingdom
CHAPTER 5 The Saite Dynasty
CHAPTER 6 The GrecoRoman Period
CHAPTER 7 The Honey Bee Hieroglyph
CHAPTER 9 Bees and Food
CHAPTER 10 Honey and Healing
CHAPTER 11 Bees Gods and Feasts
CHAPTER 12 The Magic of Beeswax
CHAPTER 13 The Afterlife of Ancient Egyptian Beekeeping
Literature Cited

CHAPTER 8 The Administration and Economics of Egyptian Beekeeping

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About the author (2015)

Gene Kritsky holds a PhD in Entomology and specialized in the history of biology. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Egypt in 1981-2, where he began his research in Egyptology. He has published several papers on Egyptian beekeeping, mythology, Egyptological history, and archaeology. Kritsky is now the Chair of Biology at Mount St. Joseph University.

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