From the ancient Near East to modern-day North America, communal consumption of food and drink punctuates the rhythms of human societies. Feasts serve many social purposes, establishing alliances for war and marriage, mobilizing labor, creating political power and economic advantages, and redistributing wealth. In this collection of fifteen essays, archaeologists and ethnographers explore the material record of food and its consumption as social practice. They examine the locations of roasting pits, hearths, and refuse deposits, or the presence of special decorative ceramics, and infer ways in which feasting traditions reveal social structures of lineage, clan, moiety, and polity.
Michael Dietler is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago and the author of "Consumption and Colonial Encounters in the Rhone Basin of France." Hayden is a professor of archaeology at Simon Fraser University.