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Sphakia Survey: The Internet Edition

Hives from Isthmia and Elsewhere

John Ellis Jones

This talk began with an illustrated survey of ancient horizontal pot hives, usually identifiable by incisions or 'combing' on the inside, and the extension rings and lids often found with them. Exmples were drawn from Attica, from sites which the speaker had a hand in excavating or studying, mostly published samples, but some hitherto unpublished. The sites included the Vari House, Trachones (both in the Mount Hymettos area), the Princess Tower (Sounion area), Marathon, the Athenian Agora, Thorikos ad Agrileza (mining compounds in the Laurion area). Some of the sites themselves were shown in colour views, plans and reconstruction drawings to illustrate the setting or location of the ancient hives. Modern parallels of horizontal hives in recent use in Cyprus and Siphnos were included.

That survey of the evidence led to the consideration of both horizontala nd upright hives from the American excavations at the Isthmia, Corinth, now in process of publication. Four restored horizontal hives of late Roman date from Justinian's Fortress on the Isthmian Wall were shown in photographs and profile drawings, and four restored upright hives and fragmets of others from the Rachi Spur settlement (of Hellenistic date) and the Sanctuary area were likewise illustrated with colour photographs and profile drawings. The upright hives had, in some cases, 'combed' incisions on part of the interior, and bee-entry holes at the bottom, in the lower wall or the outer edge of the floor. (Gas chromatograohy tests, first used on the Vari House beehive potsherds in 1969, have been applied, with positive results, to 'combed' sherds from the Isthmia.) The upright hives were compared to modern upright bar-hives at Palaiochorio, Katalagari, Crete.

2 Fronheulog,
Gwynedd LL57 4RD.


This is an abstract from "Bee-keeping in the Graeco-Roman World", a conference organised by Simon Price and Lucia Nixon at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, on 7 November 2000.



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