Fall 2019

The Ancient Table: Archaeology of Cooking and Cuisine

, 4 pts, UN3663


Humans don’t just eat to live. The ways we prepare, eat, and share our food is a complex reflection of our histories, environments, and ideologies. Whether we prefer coffee or tea, cornbread or challah, chicken breast or chicken feet, our tastes are expressive of social ties and social boundaries, and are linked to ideas of family and of foreignness.

How did eating become such a profoundly cultural experience? This seminar takes an archaeological approach to two broad issues central to eating: First, what drives human food choices both today and in the past? Second, how have social forces shaped practices of food acquisition, preparation, and consumption (and how, in turn, has food shaped society)? We will explore these questions from various evolutionary, physiological, and cultural viewpoints, highlighted by information from the best archaeological and historic case studies. Topics that will be covered include the nature of the first cooking, beer-brewing and feasting, writing of the early recipes, gender roles and ‘domestic’ life, and how a national cuisine takes shape. Through the course of the semester we will explore food practices from Pleistocene Spain to historic Monticello, with particular emphasis on the earliest cuisines of China, Mesoamerica, and the Mediterranean. 

Section Number
Call Number
Day, Time & Location
W 10:10AM-12:00PM To be announced
Camilla Sturm