Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘feasting’

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the builders of nearby Stonehenge during the 25th century BC.

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the builders of nearby Stonehenge during the 25th century BC.

Original Article:

heritagedaily.com

 

A team of archaeologists at the University of York have revealed new insights into cuisine choices and eating habits at Durrington Walls – a Late Neolithic monument and settlement site thought to be the residence for the builders of nearby Stonehenge during the 25th century BC.

Together with researchers at the University of Sheffield, detailed analysis of pottery and animal bones has uncovered evidence of organised feasts featuring barbeque-style roasting, and an unexpected pattern in how foods were distributed and shared across the site.

Chemically analysing food residues remaining on several hundred fragments of pottery, the York team found differences in the way pots were used. Pots deposited in residential areas were found to be used for cooking animal products including pork, beef and dairy, whereas pottery from the ceremonial spaces was used predominantly for dairy.

Such spatial patterning could mean that milk, yoghurts and cheeses were perceived as fairly exclusive foods only consumed by a select few, or that milk products – today often regarded as a symbol of purity – were used in public ceremonies.

Unusually, there was very little evidence of plant food preparation at any part of the site. The main evidence points to mass animal consumption, particularly of pigs. Further analysis of animal bones, conducted at the University of Sheffield, found that many pigs were killed before reaching their maximum weight. This is strong evidence of planned autumn and winter slaughtering and feasting-like consumption.

The main methods of cooking meat are thought to be boiling and roasting in pots probably around indoor hearths, and larger barbeque-style roasting outdoors – the latter evidenced by distinctive burn patterns on animal bones.

Bones from all parts of the animal skeleton were found, indicating that livestock was walked to the site rather than introduced as joints of meat. Isotopic analysis indicates that cattle originated from many different locations, some far away from the site. This is significant as it would require orchestration of a large number of volunteers likely drawn from far and wide. The observed patterns of feasting do not fit with a slave-based society where labour was forced and coerced, as some have suggested.

Dr Oliver Craig, Reader in Archaeological Science at the University of York and lead author on the paper, said: “Evidence of food-sharing and activity-zoning at Durrington Walls shows a greater degree of culinary organisation than was expected for this period of British prehistory. The inhabitants and many visitors to this site possessed a shared understanding of how foods should be prepared, consumed and disposed. This, together with evidence of feasting, suggests Durrington Walls was a well-organised working community.”

Professor Mike Parker Pearson, Professor at University College London and Director of the Feeding Stonehenge project who also led the excavations at Durrington Walls, said: “This new research has given us a fantastic insight into the organisation of large-scale feasting among the people who built Stonehenge. Animals were brought from all over Britain to be barbecued and cooked in open-air mass gatherings and also to be eaten in more privately organized meals within the many houses at Durrington Walls.

“The special placing of milk pots at the larger ceremonial buildings reveals that certain products had a ritual significance beyond that of nutrition alone. The sharing of food had religious as well as social connotations for promoting unity among Britain’s scattered farming communities in prehistory. ”

Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito, who analysed the pottery samples and recently joined Newcastle University, added: “The combination of pottery analysis with the study of animal bones is really effective, and shows how these different types of evidence can be brought together to provide a detailed picture of food and cuisine in the past”.

UNIVERSITY OF YORK

Read Full Post »

New research led by archaeologists at Cardiff University has showcased “globally unparalleled” evidence of a unique prehistoric pork-focused feasting practice in South Wales.

After 10 years of excavation and research, analysis of animal bones deposited in a ‘midden’ or rubbish heap at a prehistoric feasting site in Llanmaes, Vale of Glamorgan, has revealed the novel custom of mass feasting focused specifically on pigs’ right forequarters.

The research – a collaboration between the University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion and National Museum Wales – has provided extraordinary insights into the lives of Wales’ prehistoric ancestors.

Published this week in archaeology journal Antiquity, the research details results from the analysis of more than 70,000 fragments bone – the largest collection of prehistoric animal bones ever discovered in Wales.

This, the researchers say, is a remarkably rare survival in a country where the acid nature of soils normally means the loss of this evidence of past ways of life.

Equally significant is the discovery that the majority of the pig bones were from just one quarter of the animal – the right forequarter – suggesting a selective feasting pattern.

Biomolecular analysis of teeth and bones has also demonstrated that many of the pigs were not locally-raised and may have been brought to the site from a substantial distance away, a monumental feat in prehistoric Britain.

Using the latest scientific methods, university osteoarchaeologist Dr Madgwick helped reconstruct these ceremonial feasts, which drew people and their animals from the locality and beyond to engage in conspicuous consumption on a grand scale.

The research was undertaken by Dr Madgwick, a British Academy Post-Doctoral Fellow, and co-author Dr Jacqui Mulville, Reader in Bioarchaeology, in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, which led the research excavations.

Dr Madgwick said: “Surprisingly, nearly 80% of the animal remains at Llanmaes were from pigs, at a time when sheep and cattle were the main food animals and pork was not a favoured meat. What is perhaps more remarkable is that the majority of the pig bones were from just one quarter of the animal – the right forequarter. It might be that each household had to donate the same cut of meat to be included in the feast – that way everyone would have to slaughter a pig in honour of the feast.

“This selective pattern of feasting principally on just one quarter of one species is genuinely globally unparalleled and particularly startling as it continued over a period of centuries during the Iron Age.”

Dr Madgwick believes these tightly-controlled practices would have had a role to play in community cohesion.

He added: “The Early Iron Age communities of South Wales and beyond would have been small and dispersed, but these feasts would have represented a time of solidarity, when people came together to feast on pig right forequarters, just as their fathers and their fathers’ fathers had done.”

Adam Gwilt, Principal Curator for Prehistory at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, and one of the museum co-directors of the project added: “Middens speak not just of the everyday and filled bellies, but also about the ways of thinking and being, the customs, values and beliefs of the time. Communal feasting connected distant parts of Atlantic Europe during the later Bronze Age, offering opportunities for expressing and negotiating power relations, maintaining and binding contacts, alliances and exchanges.”

The research is ongoing and Dr Madgwick is currently undertaking further scientific analysis to reveal seasonal patterns of feasting and the methods of cooking and food preparation used.

animal remains

 

Original Article:

cardiff.ac.uk

 

 

Read Full Post »

20131009-124923.jpg

Topic: Preparing hunted game

Big-game hunts about 12,000 years ago involved feasting on a meaty morsel popular with today’s gourmets, followed by chopping, hauling, bone tossing, jewelry making and boasting.

All of these activities are suggested by remains found at a prehistoric Danish butchering site, called Lundy Mose, which is described in a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Bone fragments belonging to wild boar, red deer and aurochs were unearthed. But the hunters clearly had a taste for elk meat, since elk remains were prevalent at the site, located in South Zealand, Denmark.

“Due to very good conditions of bone preservation, Lundby Mose offers exceptional opportunities for detailed reconstruction of exploitation patterns, and allows a very precise picture of the different activities involved in elk exploitation,” archaeologist Charlotte Leduc of the University of Paris wrote.

Her detailed analysis of the remains determined that the hunters first cut around the elk heads and other parts of the body in order to remove the hides. At least one of the hides then likely became a perishable container, comparable to a garbage bag, upon which refuse was placed and later bundled.

The hunters then removed meat from easy-to-access parts, such as the limbs, and likely feasted on it right then and there. No roasting pit or evidence for fire is mentioned, so it might have been consumed raw.

All skeletal parts containing marrow — now a delicacy in many fine restaurants — were fractured to enable its extraction.

Wietske Prummel of the University of Groningen, who analyzed another prehistoric Northern European butchering site, told Discovery News that marrow was usually “consumed by hunters immediately after butchering. It was their reward for the successful kill.”

The hunters skillfully cut around the body, trimming fat and boning meat for later easy consumption. Leduc thinks much of the meat could have been transported to a nearby settlement site.

Before that happened, however, the hunters removed select bones, such as from the long limbs, likely for making bone weapons and tools. They also removed the antlers.

The elk’s shoulder blade bones were taken out and afterwards, back at the settlement, “were sometimes worked and used presumably as knives for fish processing,” Leduc suspects.

As the hunters worked, they appear to have dumped waste material onto the reserved hide. It was later tossed into a nearby lake.

The front teeth of the elks were missing, suggesting “a specific status of front teeth for the hunters,” according to Leduc. Other prehistoric hunt scenes support this theory, as do discoveries of prehistoric tooth bling.

This series of events likely played out countless times, even long before 12,000 years ago.

“Modern humans hunted and butchered large game and cooked the meat from circa 45,000 years ago when they arrived in Europe,” Marcel Niekus of the University of Groningen, told Discovery News.

The practices probably even went back to Neanderthal times, but not necessarily to the benefit of these now-extinct members of the human family tree.

A prior study in the Journal of Anthropological Science, authored by Fernando Rozzi of France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), suggests that around 30,000 years ago, a person in France might have consumed a Neanderthal child and made a necklace out of its teeth.

Original article:
discovery.com

OCT 7, 2013 BY JENNIFER VIEGAS

Read Full Post »

20130114-101523.jpg

Topic: ancient feast

A metric ton of cattle bones found in an abandoned theater in the ancient city of Corinth may mark years of lavish feasting, a new study finds.

The huge amount of bones — more than 1,000 kilograms (2,205 pounds) — likely represent only a tenth of those tossed out at the site in Peloponnese, Greece, said study researcher Michael MacKinnon, an archaeologist at the University of Winnipeg.

“What I think that they’re related to are episodes of big feasting in which the theater was reused to process carcasses of hundreds of cattle,” MacKinnon told LiveScience. He presented his research Friday (Jan. 4) at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Seattle.

From theater to butcher shop

A theater may seem an odd place for a butchery operation, MacKinnon said, but this particular structure fell into disuse between A.D. 300 A.D. and A.D. 400. Once the theater was no longer being used for shows, it was a large empty space that could have been easily repurposed, he said.

The cattle bones were unearthed in an excavation directed by Charles Williams of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. They’d been discarded in that spot and rested there until they were found, rather than being dragged to the theater later with other trash, MacKinnon said.

“Some of the skeletal materials were even partially articulated [connected], suggesting bulk processing and discard,” MacKinnon said.

MacKinnon and his colleagues analyzed and catalogued more than 100,000 individual bones, most cattle with some goat and sheep. The bones of at least 516 individual cows were pulled from the theater. Most were adults, and maturity patterns in the bones and wear patterns on the teeth showed them all to have been culled in the fall or early winter.

“These do not appear to be tired old work cattle, but quality prime stock,” MacKinnon said.

Annual feasting?

It’s impossible to say how quickly the butchering episodes took place, MacKinnon said, though it could be on the order of days or months. The bones were discarded in layers, likely over a period of 50 to 100 years, he said.

The periodic way the bones were discarded plus the hurried cut marks on some of the bones suggest a large-scale, recurring event, MacKinnon said. He suspects the cattle were slaughtered for annual large-scale feasts. Without refrigeration, it would have been difficult to keep meat fresh for long, so may have been more efficient for cities to take a communal approach.

“What goes around comes around, so maybe we’ll do it this year and next year, it’s the neighbor’s turn to do it,” MacKinnon speculated. “Neighborhoods might sponsor these kinds of things, so people do it to curry favor.”

The next step, MacKinnon said, is to look for other possible signs of ancient feasting at different sites.

“Maybe there are some special pots, or maybe we’ll find big communal cauldrons or something,” he said. “Something that gives a material record of a celebration.”

Original article:
livescience.com

By Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer
Date: 09 January 2013

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: