The Complexities of Home Cooking: Public Feasts and Private Meals Inside the Çatalhöyük House

Katheryn Twiss


Feasting is a generally a ritualized activity, and faunal and artistic evidence from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in central Anatolia support the symbolic importance and memorialization of feast animals. Such memorialization is placed within private homes, in the same general household context as quotidian consumption and food stores. Both daily meals and feasting were thus constant presences within the household, suggesting that both were key components of household identity. However, the two phenomena were kept largely spatially segregated within the household. Feasting memorabilia were strategically placed to advertise particular identities to others, perhaps as claims of power or prestige. In contrast, quotidian food stores were not advertised, but kept concealed in visually inaccessible private storerooms, suggesting that domestic goods were deliberately kept from interhousehold comparison or competition. The Çatalhöyük evidence thus suggests that in the Central Anatolian Neolithic, daily meals and ritualized feasting played different—but both fundamental, and arguably complementary—roles in specifically household identities. Both also take the broader community into account in terms of their household uses and placements, but in opposite ways.

Near Eastern Archaeology; Feasting; Domestic Meals; Households; Communality; Çatalhöyük; Neolithic

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eTopoi. Journal for Ancient Studies (ISSN 2192-2608)