Feast: Why Humans Share Food / Edition 1

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An exploration of why humans share food, from chimpanzees at a kill to university professors at a formal feast, from a Roman banquet to the TV dinner. Spanning half a million years, this fascinating account reveals the history of the meal and its huge impact both on the society and the ecology of the planet.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Why is it that humans make meals into ritual events while other animals just satisfy their hunger? To explore this question, Jones (archaeological science, Cambridge Univ.; The Molecule Hunt) offers a smooth chronological narrative from the earliest evidence of hominid eating habits right up to a 20th-century TV dinner. Each chapter begins with a short vignette suggested by archaeological remains, offering interpretations of the evidence that are precise but jargon-free. In presenting his thoughtful argument for the development of social and ritual meals, Martin skillfully lays a middle path between those who would explain everything by natural selection and those interested in the grammar of meaning systems. The book's greatest weakness is that he has skipped Asia entirely, missing out on developments from the domestication of rice to the elaborate culinary traditions and taboos of China, India, and Persia. Nonetheless, this highly readable book will be enjoyed by the general public as well as scholars. Recommended for large public libraries and all academic libraries.
—Lisa Klopfer

From the Publisher
"The conclusions are perceptive, discerning, and intricate, delving deeply into the understanding of human behavior and nature. Jones imparts his deductions with skill and intelligence, producing an important contribution to the studies of human societal behavior, coupled with significant implications for the future study of social interaction. Essential."—S. Kowtko, CHOICE

"In presenting his thoughtful argument for the development of social and ritual meals, Martin skillfully lays a middle path between those who would explain everything by natural selection and those interested in the grammar of meaning systems."—Library Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199533527
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 5/28/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,509,285
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Jones is George Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological Science at the University of Cambridge, and specializes in the study of the fragmentary archaeological remains of early food. In the 1990s he was Chairman of the Ancient Biomolecule Initiative that pioneered some of the most important new methods of archaeological science used in such research. His previous books include The Molecule Hunt: archaeology and the search for ancient DNA, published by Penguin.

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Table of Contents

List of maps     ix
List of illustrations     x
Illustration acknowledgements     xii
A return to the hearth     1
Are we so different? How apes eat     23
In search of big game     45
Fire, cooking, and growing a brain     73
Naming and eating     101
Among strangers     127
Seasons of the feast     153
Hierarchy and the food chain     177
Eating in order to be     207
Far from the hearth     233
The stomach and the soul     251
A global food web     277
Notes     304
References     319
Index     343
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