Although the archaeology of food has long played an integral
role in our understanding of past cultures, the archaeology of
cooking is rarely integrated into models of the past. The cooks who
spent countless hours cooking and processing food are overlooked
and the forgotten players in the daily lives of our ancestors.
The Menial Art of Cooking shows how cooking activities
provide a window into other aspects of society and, as such, should
be taken seriously as an aspect of social, cultural, political, and
This book examines techniques and technologies of food
preparation, the spaces where food was cooked, the relationship
between cooking and changes in suprahousehold economies, the
religious and symbolic aspects of cooking, the relationship between
cooking and social identity, and how examining foodways provides
insight into social relations of production, distribution, and
consumption. Contributors use a wide variety of evidence-including
archaeological data; archival research; analysis of ceramics,
fauna, botany, glass artifacts, stone tools, murals, and painted
ceramics; ethnographic analogy; and the distribution of artifacts
across space-to identify signs of cooking and food processing left
by ancient cooks.
The Menial Art of Cooking is the first archaeological
volume focused on cooking and food preparation in prehistoric and
historic settings around the world and will interest
archaeologists, social anthropologists, sociologists, and other
scholars studying cooking and food preparation or subsistence.
Subjects: Sociology, Archaeology, Anthropology
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