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Feasting practices and changes in Greek society from the Late Bronze Age to Early Iron Age

In this thesis I offer a diachronic survey of feasting practices on the Greek mainland from c. 1600 to c. 700, covering the Early Mycenaean era, the palatial period, and the Early Iron Age. I focus upon three specific spheres of feasting activity in each period under discussion - sociopolitical, funerary and sanctuary-based - and employ multiple sources of evidence in order to create a comprehensive image of feasting styles and behaviour in each of these spheres. In particular, I direct my focus towards the association between feasting practices and sociopolitical changes and the ways that they impact upon each other, in order to increase our understanding of both phenomena. Feasts can be an active way of bringing about sociopolitical developments, for example if they are employed by leaders or members of the elite in order to attain, maintain or express authority over others; conversely, the types of sociopolitical milieu in existence can affect and alter the styles of feasting that people practise. For the Early Mycenaean period, I highlight the fluidity of feasting activities, as this is not only a unique characteristic of commensality in this era but also reflects the competitive sociopolitical environment. I then examine the palatial period and how far the palaces' influence can be said to have spread over their polities, by focusing on how much control they had over feasting activities. For the Early Iron Age, I deal with issues of change and continuity and how feasting could be both a reassuring continuum in times of uncertainty and a method mobilised by leaders to convey their authority. Finally, I offer a case-study of feasting in the poems of Homer and Hesiod and consider how these can inform us about late 8th-century mental perspectives on commensality, including codes of feasting behaviour.
Date January 2009
CreatorsFox, Rachel Sarah
PublisherUniversity of Sheffield
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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