Feast: Why Humans Share Food
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The family dinner, the client luncheon, the holiday spread--the idea of people coming together for a meal seems the most natural thing in the world. But that is certainly not the case for most other members of the animal kingdom. In Feast, archeologist Martin Jones presents both historic and modern scientific evidence to illuminate how prehistoric humans first came to share food and to trace the ways in which the human meal has shaped our cultural evolution.
Jones shows that by studying the activities of our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, and by unearthing ancient hearths, some more than 30,000 years old, scientists have been able to piece together a picture of how our ancient ancestors found, killed, cooked, and divided food. In sites uncovered all over the world, fragments of bone, remnants of charred food, pieces of stone or clay serving vessels, and the outlines of ancient halls tell the story of how we slowly developed the complex traditions of eating we recognize in our own societies today. Jones takes us on a tour of the most fascinating sites and artifacts that have been discovered, and shows us how archeologists have made many fascinating discoveries. In addition, he traces the rise of such recent phenomena as biscuits, "going out to eat," and the Thanksgiving-themed TV dinner.
From the earliest evidence of human consumption around half a million years ago to the era of the drive-through diner, this fascinating account unfolds the history of the human meal and its profound impact on human society.
traditional emphasis within archaeology has been on chronological sequence, such that many older excavations record what things are on top of each other with greater rigour and care than their records of what things are next to each other, but such spatial arrangement can be highly informative in understanding something like the sharing of food. A culinary journey Our Moravian excavations have just begun. There is much work ahead for many specialists in diVerent Welds. The following pages chart
scrutiny of, and reXection upon, a series of projects that in some way or other resonate with what we hope to achieve in Moravia; they each combine imaginative and careful archaeology with the fortune of discovery to open our eyes to a variety of particular meals. Several of those meals are a mere fraction of the age of the Moravian hearths, some 17 Map 1. Map of Europe and the Mediterranean, showing archaeological sites mentioned in the text. The principal case studies are indicated by their
involving both same-sex and mixed-sex unions, and are used pleasurably to relieve tension and generally socialize. Not surprisingly, many bonobo activities, including the sharing of food, involve some aspect of sex. Field researchers in the Lomako forest of central Zaire carried their dictaphone, camcorder, portable balance, and tape measure to the feeding grounds of the Eyengo community of bonobos. They watched closely and recorded as these animals sought out and then shared breadfruits, the
circumstantial evidence that they could perform a radical transformation on their food, a transformation that Claude Le´vi-Strauss regarded as one of the principal features that marked out humanity as something distinct and separate from the natural world. They could cook. The earliest hearths in the world go two or three times as far back in time as the Abric Romanı´ deposit, and may go as far back as 180,000 years at Kalambo Falls in northern Zambia. There are a few contentious candidates that
their meat was a token of bonds that linked the relative strangers who had gathered from across the landscape on this hilltop—bonds that would be remembered during some subsequent season of festivity. Nature in transition O n a sinuous spur of chalk downland overlooking the modern meadows and hedgerows of southern England, a series of impressive earthworks forms a defensive ring around the spur’s summit. These earthworks were erected over 2,000 years ago around an Iron Age hilltop village. A