It is common knowledge amongst beekeepers that honey lasts a very long time. Edible
honey has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Has it?
Many, apparently reliable, sources repeat that fact. There is a wealth of references
in supposedly reliable places that it must be true. You might expect it to be relatively
easy to find the primary source that these reliable sources rely on. I thought I
should try to find some primary source because I could find no “reliable” reference
which quotes the primary source of its information.
I would regard a contemporary primary source to be a report by an archeologist in
a learned journal in which he or she would state the tomb in which the honey was
found, its location, what container it was in, its state, when it was found and the
museum where said sample is now held.
An historical primary source would be a report which would be in the writings of
an archaeologist or antiquarian saying where and when he found the sample and a description
of its state and what he did with it.
I have found no reference to a primary source on the internet.
I have found a report by Theodore Davis an American lawyer who made excavations in
the Valley of the Kings between 1902 and 1914. Excavating the tomb of Yuya and his
wife Tjuya, parents of the wife of the pharaoh Amenhotep III (who ruled from about
the 1380s BC to the 1350s) and grandparents of Nefertiti, in 1905 he found a jar
which contained a liquid which “we first thought to be be honey but on further examination
proved to be natron” Natron is a mineral used in mummification.
I have seen it quoted “reliably” that Howard Carter found honey in the tomb of Tutankhamen.
It would seem that what he actually found was a jar on which was written that it
contained honey – there was none left.
A further proof of the preservative (antibiotic) properties of honey is the report
of the finding of a jar of honey in a pyramid. The discoverers tasting the honey
found it to be as good as fresh honey but later discovered hairs in it and on further
examination discovered the body of a child perfectly preserved by the honey within
the jar. This story has been around a long time! The earliest recording of it is
by the physician Abd el-Latif in the thirteenth century but even then it was an old
If anyone can find a primary source for ancient honey being found then please let
me know where it is. Till then I won't be repeating such tales.