Food Rituals and Their Social Significance in the Mid-Second Millennium BC in the Southern Levant: A View From Megiddo

L. Sapir-Hen, M. A.S. Martin, I. Finkelstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ceremonies involving intentional burial of animals with humans are acknowledged to bear religious, social and political connotations, and we explored both the ritual activity and the social trajectory of these activities. To date, these ceremonies have rarely been examined within the context of nearby daily activities. We studied faunal remains associated with intramural burials in comparison with contemporaneous daily life in the midsecond millennium bc at Tel Megiddo, as well as comparison with concomitant extramural burials and locations of public feasts. Our study highlights the human interaction with animals that are not often treated as bearing social meaning or having interrelationships with human, the livestock animals. We demonstrate that livestock animals in the second millennium bc had a significant social role as well as economic value. The choice of animals consumed and sacrificed in these rituals is strongly related to the animal's symbolic potency and is based on the desired social message that the population aims to convey. Finally, the form of luxury food that is found in the Megiddo funerary rituals supports the hypothesis regarding the intramural burials' role in creating and enhancing social family bonds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1048-1058
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Osteoarchaeology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank L. Oz, O. Yagel and D. Traubman for preparing the faunal assemblage for analysis. This study was supported by a research grant provided by Mr Mark Weissman.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


  • 2nd millennium BC
  • burial
  • livestock
  • ritual
  • zooarchaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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