Feast, Food and Fodder in Neolithic-Bronze Age Greece: Commensality and the Construction of Value

Paul Halstead


This paper explores the relationship between mundane domestic and more formal meals in recent rural Greece, as a prelude to a diachronic examination of the range of commensal behavior through the Neolithic and Bronze Age of the same region. Analysis of recent practices highlights the role of a hierarchy of low- to high-value foods. While Neolithic commensality beyond the household emphasizes equality and collective cohesion, formal commensality takes a strikingly and increasingly diacritical form through the Bronze Age. It is argued that Bronze Age diacritical commensality was part of a broader strategy of elite ‘choreography’ of social life. A hierarchy of foods, which linked diacritical behavior, labor mobilization and risk buffering, may have played a critical role in driving this trajectory of change.

Prehistoric Archaeology; Bronze Age Archaeology; Greece; Feast; Food; Fodder; Neolithic; Bronze Age; Value

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