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Inside Ancient Kitchens

New Directions in the Study of Daily Meals and Feasts

Edited by Elizabeth A. Klarich

Publication Year: 2010

The anthropology of food is an area of research in which economic, social, and political dynamics interact in incredibly complex ways. Using archaeological case studies from around the globe, Inside Ancient Kitchens presents new perspectives on the comparative study of prehistoric meals from Peru to the Philippines. Inside Ancient Kitchens builds upon the last decade of feasting studies and presents two unique goals for broadening the understanding of prehistoric meals. First, the volume focuses on the study of meal preparation through the analysis of temporary and permanent kitchen areas. This move to focus "behind the scenes" is aimed at determining how, where, and by whom meals were financed and prepared. Secondly, data from these preparation contexts are used to differentiate between household-level and suprahousehold-level meals in each case study, resulting in more nuanced typologies of daily meals, feasts, and other food-related events. Inside Ancient Kitchens presents an important step in the development of new methodological and theoretical approaches within the anthropology of food and will be of great interest to scholars studying the social dynamics, labor organization, and political relationships underlying prehistoric meals.

Published by: University Press of Colorado


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pp. vii-viii

List of Contributors

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pp. ix-x

List of Figures

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pp. xi-xiii

List of Tables

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. xvii-xviii

First, I thank the participants in the symposium From Subsistence to Social Strategies: Refining the Material Correlates of Household and Suprahousehold Levels of Food Preparation, which I organized for the Society for American Archaeology meetings in Montreal, Canada. Special thanks go to Barbara Mills and Jason Ur for their encouragement and enthusiasm for making this symposium into an edited volume. ...

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1: Behind the Scenes and into the Kitchen: New Directions for the Study of Prehistoric Meals

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pp. 1-15

Although we regularly participate in the preparation and consumption of large, special meals (e.g., Thanksgiving, wedding receptions, etc.), we often must step outside of familiar settings to observe the subtle social, economic, and political factors at play during these events. In 1995 and 1996, I had the opportunity to live and work in ...

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2: Food Preparation and Feasting in the Household and Political Economy of Pre-Hispanic Philippine Chiefdoms

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pp. 17-53

At the dawn of European colonization in the mid-second millennium AD, the Philippine islands, like most of Southeast Asia, were inhabited by an eclectic mix of ethnically and linguistically distinct societies ranging from small-scale hunter-gathering bands to what might be termed as ranked tribal societies, to hereditarily stratified chiefdoms like Manila and Cebu, and even to larger-scale Islamic sultanates like the Sulu and Magindanao (Jocano 1975; Junker 1999) (Figure 2.1). Going further back in time ...

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3: The Cycle of Production, Preparation, and Consumption in a Northern Mesopotamian City

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pp. 55-82

A central issue in the study of the earliest states in the Near East has always been the basis for political power, and in particular the mechanism for its restriction to a small group within a much larger society. Because these states formed almost exclusively in well-watered alluvial basins, this basis has been assumed to have been a material one, in the ...

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4: Fine Dining and Fabulous Atmosphere: Feasting Facilities and Political Interaction in the Wari Realm

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pp. 83-109

Recently, Andean archaeologists have stressed that feasts were important events in the development of complex political formations because these events were where relations of power were established, 2001; Janusek 2004). The activity of feasting holds a prominent role in descriptions of political interaction in the Andean past, and thus ...

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5: Big Hearths and Big Pots: Moche Feasting on the North Coast of Peru

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pp. 111-131

In the South American Andes the immense Inka (Inca) civilization typically is used as the model for feasting research. The Inka are especially known for their large feasts held at administrative centers where maize beer, or chicha, was consumed in mass quantities (see also Chapter 4, this volume). The state hosted these large affairs for thousands ...

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6: Maya Palace Kitchens: Suprahousehold Food Preparation at the Late and Terminal Classic Site of Xunantunich, Belize

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pp. 133-160

Before the development of haute cuisine in eighteenth-century Italy, courtly food in the noble houses of Europe conformed more to a tradition of extravagant displays than to innovative preparations associated with later cookery (Mennell 1996: 68). Early banquets featured copious amounts of roasted meat and wheat bread, the raw ingredients ...

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7: Feeding the Fire: Food and Craft Production in the Middle Sican Period (AD 950-1050)

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pp. 161-189

Previous publications synthesize the nature of multi-craft interaction and its implications for the organization and operation of interacting technologies and craftspersons at Huaca Sialupe on the North Coast of Peru during the Middle Sicán period (AD 950–1050: Goldstein 2007; Shimada et al. 2003). Here we address craft production from ...

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8: The Wari Brewer Woman: Feasting, Gender, Offerings, and Memory

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pp. 191-219

Wari oversized ceramic offerings and the role of feasting in Wari political organization have been discussed at least since William H. five giant effigy jars discovered at Conchopata in 1977. They had been broken and buried beside the grave of five young women who may have prepared and served brew to elite guests from the vessels ...

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9: Expanding the Feast: Food Preparation, Feasting, and the Social Negotiation of Gender and Power

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pp. 221-239

It was only a few years ago that Brian Hayden (2001: 23–24) lamented the lack of attention to feasting by archaeologists and cultural anthropologists. In less than a decade, however, research on feasting has exploded as a topic of great theoretical and methodological interest in archaeology (e.g., Bray 2003a; Dietler and Hayden 2001a; Junker ...

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10: Making Meals (Matter)

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pp. 241-251

In this chapter I attempt to place the case studies in this volume in some historical perspective by focusing on the ways in which they are unique to the archaeological study of communal meals and commensal politics and on how important they are for setting the stage for future studies of feasting as a social practice. I divide my discussion into ...


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pp. 253-258

E-ISBN-13: 9781607320609
E-ISBN-10: 1607320606
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870819421
Print-ISBN-10: 0870819429

Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 69 illustrations
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 664565786
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Inside Ancient Kitchens

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Subject Headings

  • Food preferences -- History -- Case studies.
  • Indians -- Food -- Case studies.
  • Food habits -- History -- Case studies.
  • Prehistoric peoples -- Food -- Case studies.
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