Case Study Specimen Question: Bee-keeping in Sphakia

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Before presenting the possible questions you can ask of the data, we give a fully worked out question, which will help to familiarise you with the databases. Clicking on the name of a database or resource in the right-hand frame will load it into the main frame above.


We selected bee-keeping as the topic because the production of honey and beeswax has been an economically important practice in Sphakia in at least two of our epochs, and because it involves the main two databases. There are different kinds of evidence for bee-keeping: enclosures (mostly in the Byzantine-Turkish epoch, though some are Graeco-Roman); ceramic beehives(Graeco-Roman; in the recent past in Sphakia hives were made of local cypress wood).

For more information about beekeeping (in Sphakia and elsewhere) go to the abstracts of a conference on Beekeeping in the Graeco-Roman World.

There are two types of sites which have data about bee-keeping.

1. Sites where the hives were kept.

For a complete list of these sites for all epochs:

You will then get a complete list of our sites which are classified as beehive sites.

To find only Graeco-Roman beehive sites:

The resulting list will now omit those beehive sites that have only a Byzantine-Modern phase.

To find out more about a particular site:

Possible question to think about: why do we have these specialised bee-keeping sites, in particular periods and in particular places? How does their location relate to the eight environmental zones?

2. Sites where Graeco-Roman ceramic hives found in association with other material.

Some of these sites are beehive sites, but the majority are settlement sites.

  • Go back to the menu for the Site Catalogue (by clicking on )

  • click the button at the top Clear Form (which cancels your previous selections).

  • at the bottom of the Advanced Selection section on the Artefact Comment line pull down the menu Choose a keyword at the right

  • select beehive

  • click the Begin Search button.

    The resulting list, of 63 sites, includes some but not all of the sites found in the previous search (because not all of them have remains of ceramic beehives). Site 6.25 is there again, and clicking on the site number will produce the same record as you have already seen.

  • But this time there are also sites in Region 8 (their site numbers begin with 8),

  • click on the site number for one of them in the left-hand column, for example 8.07 The resulting record has a brief account of the site (we give this prose only for sites in Region 8).

    Possible questions to think about: From which Regions do beehives come? At what sort of sites are beehives found? What inferences can be drawn about bee-keeping in Region 8? How typical of Sphakia as a whole is Region 8?

  • A second database includes (for Region 8) information about all the Graeco-Roman ceramic beehives that we found.

  • In the frame at the bottom right, click on Region 8 Ceramics. This database will then appear in place of the Sites Database in the frame at the top.

  • In the fourth line Function pull down the menu Choose Function at the right

  • select beehive

  • click on the button Begin Search at the top.

    The resulting list of 126 items is a complete list of the ceramic beehive fragments from Region 8.

    Possible question to think about: at how many sites in Region 8 are beehives found? at how many of those sites are there significant numbers of beehive fragments? how might you account for this?

    Beehive fabrics

    You can also explore the different types of clay from which beehives in Region 8 were made (on our Fabric Families go to the Fabric Research section).

  • Go back to the main menu for this database (by clicking on )

  • on the first line of Advanced Searches type in 8.07 (the site whose record you have already seen)

  • and click the Begin Search button.

    You will obtain 16 records for this site.

  • go back to the main menu for this database (by clicking on )

  • at the top of the page pull down the menu on the Choose field to sort by button

  • select Fabric Family

  • click Begin Search.

  • The same 16 records will now be sorted by Fabric Family.

  • Click on the left-hand column to view an individual record (and its associated photographs and drawings, if any)

    Possible question to think about: how do the fabrics for beehives compare with the fabrics for other pottery at a particular site (or for the Region as a whole)? what conclusions follow from this comparison (origins of the hives; functions of this range of fabrics)?

  • To look again at the record for the site as a whole, click on the site number 8.07. Possible question to think about: what sort of site does 8.07 seem to be?

    Load the Region 8 Case Study Questions ->