Savoring the Past

The Archaeology of Food and Foodways

Katheryn Twiss

Stony Brook University

Video recording available:


What is food? Why should we study it? Different archaeologists will give you different answers to these questions. This talk outlines some of the variability that exists in food archaeology, and explains how researchers are using the traces of past foodways to investigate centuries- and millennia-old social distinctions. Particular attention is paid to cooking's role in establishing food values, to the complexities of identifying "food" in the past, and to the ways in which people's food habits may transgress social boundaries.

Katheryn C. Twiss is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stony Brook University. Her research focuses on social and economic practices in early agricultural societies. As a zooarchaeologist, she uses faunal remains to study past human-animal interactions. Her research thus involves issues such as the origins of domestication, the cultural implications of different animal management strategies, and the integration of wild and domestic resources. She is also interested in the archaeology of food and concentrates on the social aspects of food production and use: the organization of food production and preparation, the use of food to enact social structures, and the interrelationship of feasting and domestic consumption. Her geographic focus is southwest Asia, and she is currently conducting research at the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey.

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