Feasting and shared drinking practices in the Early Bronze Age II-III (2650-2000 BC) of north-central and western Anatolia
Whalen, Jessica Lea
Feasting and shared drinking are long suspected to have been practiced in Anatolian settlements during the Early Bronze Age (EBA). New drinking vessels of metal and ceramic seem meant for drinking together with others. Platters and bowls seem intended to display food and vessel handling. No study has examined these practices in detail. This is largely because of a lack of evidence for the production of special beverages, for instance wine, beer, or mead. The Early Bronze Age is a period of intensifying personal distinction. It is characterised by developments in metallurgy, craft production, long-distance exchange, and at some sites, monumental architecture. Yet how EBA Anatolian communities were organised is unclear. A lack of writing and a limited number of seals suggest that there was no central administration within settlements. This contrasts with contemporaneous sites in southeastern Turkey and in Mesopotamia, whose metallurgy, craft production, architecture, and other developments were overseen by temple and palace complexes. This thesis uses feasting and drinking as a way to examine the social complexity of EBA Anatolian sites. It compiles evidence for these activities in both north-central and western Anatolia. It analyses the incidence of different drinking and pouring shapes across sites, and qualitatively assesses vessel features and the contexts in which they are found. This thesis also evaluates the role of drinking and feasting within settlements. It assesses the settings where drinking and feasting was practiced, together with other indices from each site. Two theoretical models are used to evaluate these activities. One details how the use of objects facilitate social relationships. Another specifies how communities may be organised. Both models provide a wide spectrum for assessing the drinking, feasting, and organisational evidence from sites. These models allow for variation: in how drink and food are used to form social relationships, and also in social complexity. The approach is able to distinguish between different organisational and social strategies across sites and regions. This detail is key for beginning to understand Anatolia's unique development during the period.