Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 399–404 | Cite as

The first find in southern Georgia of fossil honey from the Bronze Age, based on palynological data

  • Eliso Kvavadze
  • Irina Gambashidze
  • Giorgi Mindiashvili
  • Giorgi Gogochuri
Original Article


The results of a palynological analysis of the organic content of earthenware pots from the Kodiani burial mound (27th–25th centuries b.c.) are reported. The character of the palynological spectrum differs significantly from that of a buried soil within the same burial mound. In the samples taken from the pots, pollen concentration is very high, pollen grains are perfectly preserved and an abundance of pollen from insect-pollinated plants is recorded. It is well known that these features are peculiar to honey palynospectra. In all three pots the pollen of Rosaceae, a family of plants that produce good honey, is dominant. However, the second, third and fourth most dominant pollen types in all three samples are different. For example, Tilia pollen is the second dominant in only one pot. In the second pot, Apiaceae and Poaceae are predominant, and in the third pot, Poaceae, both wild and cultural, is the second dominant. It is clear that the different pots contained different types of honey. The variety of honey types indicates highly developed bee-keeping in the Early Bronze Age. In the same regions of Georgia, agriculture was also highly developed. Wheat cultivation was very important. According to the palynospectra, the landscape and climate of this period were probably quite different to those of today.


Fossil honey Pollen analysis Early kurgan culture Bronze age Biodiversity Caucasus 



The authors wish to thank the management of the British Petroleum Co. for their financial support. We also thank V.M. Japaridze, Director of the Centre for Archaeological Investigations of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, N.A. Bregadze, Institute of History of Academy of Sciences of Georgia and Y. Gagoshidze, State Museum of Georgia for their consultations. We express our deep gratitude to M. Rösch, A. Bieniek and S. Connor for their invaluable help in our investigations and in preparation of the present manuscript.


  1. Apakidze AM, Burchuladze AA (1987) Radiouglerodnoe datirovanie arkheologicheskikh i paleobotanicheskikh obrazcov Gruzii [Radiokarbon dating archaeological and palaeobotanical samples from Georgia]. Mecniereba, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  2. Bregadze NA (1982) Ocherki po agroetnografii Gruzii [Sketches on the agroethnography of Georgia]. Mecniereba, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  3. Bregadze NA (2004) Gruzia—samostoyatel’nyj ochag zemledelya [Georgia—independent hearth of agriculture]. Samshoblo, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  4. Demkin VA (2000) The use phosphate method to reconstruct the food for the dead in pots from burial mounds of a steppe zone. In: Shishlina NI (ed) A seasonal economic cycle of the population of north-west Near-Caspian region in the Bronze Age. Proceedings of the State Historical Museum, vol 120, Moskow, pp 100–107Google Scholar
  5. Dickson JN (1978) Bronze Age Mead Antiquity 52:108–113Google Scholar
  6. Dzhaparidze OM (1961) K istoriii gruzinskikh plemjon na rannej stadii mednobronzovoj kul’tury [On the history of Georgian tribes at the early stage of the Copper-Bronze Culture]. Izdatel’stvo Tbilisskogo Universiteta, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  7. Dzhaparidze OM (1998) K etnokul’turnoj istorii gruzinskikh plemjon v tret’em tysyacheletii do nashei ery [On the history of Georgian tribes in the third millennium b.c.]. Izdatel’stvo Centra Arkheologicheskikh Issledovanij, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  8. Gambashidze IO, Gogochuri GK (2004, unpubl.) Otchjot Borjomskoj arkheologicheskoj ekspeditsii za provedjonnie v 2004 godu arkheologicheskie raskopki na 179 i 193 kilometre truboprovoda Baku-Tbilisi-Jeichan [The Borjomi expedition report on archaeological excavations on the 179th and 193rd km of the Baku-Tbilisi-Jeikhan oil pipe-line carried out in 2004. Arkhiv Tsentra Arkheologicheskikh issledovanij im. O. Lortkipanidze AN Gruzii, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  9. Grossgeim AA (1946) Rastitel’nye resursy Kavkaza [Plant resources of Georgia]. Uzdatel’stvo AN Azerbaidzhanskoj SSR, BakuGoogle Scholar
  10. Inanishvili G (2003) Osnovy tekhnicheskoj ekspertizy drevnosti [Bases of technical expertise of antiquities]. Izdatel’stvo Tbilisskogo Tekhnicheskogo Universiteta, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  11. Kavtaradze GL (1983) K khronologii epokhi neolita I bronzy Gruzii [On chronology of the Neolithic and Bronze Age in Georgia]. Metsniereba, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  12. Kiguradze T (2000) Kolybel’ kul’turnogo vinogradarstva I vinodeliya [The cradle of viticulture and wine-making]. J. Grapevine and Wine 1–2:27–29Google Scholar
  13. Königsmann E (1968) Insekten. In: Urania Tierreich. Urania, Leipzig Jena Berlin, pp 381–392Google Scholar
  14. Kvavadze EV (1994) Biostratigrafiya golocena gornykh regionov Zakavkas’ya [Holocene biostratigraphy of the Transcaucasian Mountains region]. In: Rovnina LV (ed) [Palynology in stratigraphy], Nauka, Moskwa, pp 148–151Google Scholar
  15. Kvavadze EV, Connor SE (2005) Zelkova carpinifolia (Pallas) K. Koch in Holocene sediments of Georgia—an indicator of climatic optima. Rev Palaeobot Palynol 133:69–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kuftin BA (1949) Arkheologicheskaya marshrutnaya ekspeditsya 1945 goda v Jugoosetiju I Imeretiju [Archaelogical expedition in 1945 in Southoseti and Imereti]. Izdatel’stvo AN GSSR, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  17. Lisitsina GN, Prischepenko LV (1977) Paleoetnobotanicheskie nachodki Kavkaza I Blizhnego Vostoka [Paleoethnobotanical finds in the Caucasus and Near East], Nauka, MoskvaGoogle Scholar
  18. Lominadze VP, Chirakadze GI (eds) (1971) Klimat I klimaticheskie resursy Gruzii [The climate and climatic resources of Georgia]. Gidrometeorologicheskoe izdatel’stvo, LeningradGoogle Scholar
  19. Lucas A (1958) Materiali I remeslennie proiavodstva Drevnego Egipta [Ancient Egyptian materials and industries]. Izdatel’stvo Unostrannoj literatury, MoskvaGoogle Scholar
  20. Maruashvili Ll (ed) (1971) Geomorfologiya Gruzii [Geomorphology of Georgia]. Metsniereba, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  21. Mindiashvili GM (1993) Rannie kurgany Juzhnogo Kavkaza (sotsial’no-ekonomicheskij aspekt) [Early burial mounds of the southern Caucasus (social and economical aspect)]. Avtoreferat kandidatskoj dissertatsii, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  22. Mindiashvili G, Murvanidze B, Ramishvili A, Chikovani G (2003) Arkheologicheskie raskopki na eksportnom truboprovode zapadnogo napravleniya 143-ego kilometra [Archaeological excavations on the export pipe-line of the west direction of 143 km. Pipe-line archaeology]. In: Licheli V (ed) Arkheologiya truboprovoda, vol II, Izdatel’stvo Tsentra Arkheolog. issledovanij. AN Gruzii, Tbilisi, pp 65–69Google Scholar
  23. Rabotnov TA (ed) (1971) Travyanistye rasteniya SSSR [Herbaceous vegetation of SSSR], vo1 1–2, Misl’, MoskvaGoogle Scholar
  24. Ramishvili R (2001) Istoriya gruzinskoi lozi I vina. Istoriko-arkheologicheskoe I ampelograficheskoe issledovanie. [The history of Georgian grapevine and wine. Historical, archaeological and ampelographical investigation] Izdatel’stvo im.I.Chavchavadze, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  25. Robakidze A (1960) K istorii pchelovodstva [For history of bee-keeping]. Izdatel’stvo Akademii Nauk GSSR, TbilisiGoogle Scholar
  26. Rösch M (1999) Evaluation of honey residues from Iron Age hill-top sites in south-western Germany: implications for local and regional land and vegetation dynamics. Veget Hist Archaeobot 8:105–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rösch M (2002) Der Inhalt der beiden Bronzekannen. In: Das Rätsel der Kelten vom Glauberg. Glaube-Mythos-Wirklichkeit. Theiss, Stuttgart, pp 119–120Google Scholar
  28. Rusishvili NS (1991) Fossilised species of wheat from the territory of Georgia. In: Hajnalova E (ed) Palaeoethnobotany and archaeology, Nitra, pp 285–294Google Scholar
  29. Stanek VY (1977) Illjustrirovannaia entsiklopediya nasekomykh (Illustrated encyclopaedia of insects]. Artiya, PragaGoogle Scholar
  30. Yanushevich ZV, Rusishvili NS (1984) Novie paleoetnobotanicheskie nakhodki na eneoliticheskom poselenii Arukhlo [New palaeoethnobotanical finds in the Eneolithic settlement]. In: Chubinishvili TN (ed) Chelovek I okruzhajuschaiya ego sreda. Metsniereba, Tbilisi, pp 21–33Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eliso Kvavadze
    • 1
  • Irina Gambashidze
    • 2
  • Giorgi Mindiashvili
    • 2
  • Giorgi Gogochuri
    • 2
  1. 1.L. Davitashvili Institute of PalaeobiologyGeorgian Academy of ScienceTbilisi 8Georgia
  2. 2.O. Lordkipanidze Centre for Archaeological Studies of GeorgianAcademy of ScienceTbilisi 2Georgia

Personalised recommendations