A new study has provided new information pertaining to how human interest in bees and their products might have originated.
An international team of researchers examined 6,400 ceramic containers (from the oldest pottery cultures) that existed back in the Neolithic period from regions of Near East (Western Asia), Europe and North Africa that make up Anatolia; they were looking for the presence of beeswax.
Beeswax being a lipid complex is known to be resistant to degradation. Detecting its biological footprint in organic residues is, therefore, possible.
It was found that beeswax was persistently used from the seventh millennium BCE, in Anatolia (Cayonü), according to one of the researchers, Alfonso Alday. The latter believes that it might have been integrated into tools, and cosmetics, or used in rituals, for medicinal purposes, and as fuel.
Bee populations might have spread with the propagation of farming – deforestation to accommodate for pastures would have promoted landscapes where flowers flourished such that bees would gradually become “pursuers of agriculture”.
On the other hand, the first known uses of beeswax in Europe came later, around 4900-4500 in Greece, from around 5500-5200 in Rumania, in 5300-4600 in Serbia. It was used even later in France and Slovenia.