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Feast: Why Humans Share Food


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Table of Contents

1: A return to the hearth 2: Are we so different? How apes eat 3: In search of big game 4: Fire, cooking, and growing a brain 5: Naming and eating 6: Among strangers 7: Seasons of the feast 8: Hierarchy and the food chain 9: Eating in order to be 10: Far from the hearth 11: The stomach and the soul 12: A global food web

About 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.


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, Eastern Michigan Univ., Ypsilanti Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

`Review from previous edition This is a mould-cracker of a book, as readable as any thriller' Elisabeth Luard, Literary Review `Will delight most anthropologists and evolutionary biologists, as well as broadly educated laypersons interested in the evolution of diet and the social organisation of eating...[a] captivating narrative.' Gary Paul Nabhan, Nature `A lively, wide-ranging study.' The Scotsman `Jones offers much that is both fascinating and illuminating.' Kate Colquhoun, The Telegraph (Review)

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