The ethnographic studies that were conducted in the Land of Israel and the neighboring lands point to three main types of beehives that were in use from at least the beginning of the 19th century:
  1. Cylinders made of a mixture of clay and organic material.
  2. Ceramic jars in secondary use whose bases were perforated/broken and sometimes the necks were also removed.
  3. Clay vessels that were produced specifically for use as beehives. The most common shapes are conical and an arched cylinder equipped with two openings – one narrow and the other wide.
All three types have ethnographic parallels, but the present study focuses on the third type which is the only one of which archaeological evidence has been found. To date we know of four sites where the Type 3 vessel was discovered in excavations and in all of the instances the vessels were in secondary use in Muslim cemeteries:
  1. Tel Mevorakh. A vessel that was used in an infant burial and dates to the Late Ottoman period.
  2. Azor. A vessel that may have been used to cover a grave and dates to the Late Ottoman period.
  3. Horbat Zikhrin. Two vessels that were used in infant burials and that date to the Late Ottoman period.
  4. Kfar ‘Ana. Seven vessels that were used to cover the graves of adults and which date to the Mamluk period.
The importance of the study is two-fold: 1) to supplement our present knowledge of the ceramic assemblage of the Mamluk and Ottoman periods in our region, and 2) as an important addition to the study of the rural economy during these periods of which most of our knowledge to date has been derived from ethnographic studies and historical sources and less, if any, from archaeological finds.