Conspicuous Consumption: Dining on Meat in the Ancient World

This paper discusses meat preparation and consumption in the ancient Near East (including Bronze Age and Iron Age Palestine), the pre-classical and classical Aegean, and the early Islamic world by examining ceramic table wares and cooking pots. Rulers and local elites indulged in a variety of meat-based luxury cuisines, which they showcased through display dining. Differentiated cuisines and conspicuous consumption were an expression of social hierarchy and served to reinforce class distinctions. The paper concludes by considering Late Iron Age Judah, where changes in cooking pot types suggest an apparent absence of meat from the local diet. The absence of meat contrasts with evidence from adjacent regions, and may reflect market patterns under Assyrian rule and the observance of a biblical ban on the consumption of non-sacrificial meat.