FOREWORD

In January 1939, while excavating in the northern section of the Archaic cemetery at Sacjqara, Walter B. Emery discovered a rather humble tomb dating to the Second Dynasty (early third millennium B. C.).1 Denoted Tomb 3477, in size and intrinsic value of its contents it was rather unremarkable save in one respect. It had lain undisturbed from the time of the burial in it of a woman of about sixty years of age. Emery found there an almost perfectly preserved meal, laid out on dishes of pottery, alabaster, and diorite. Here was a near pristine example of a funerary meal found in other Early Dynastic burials, though none preserved so well as this nor so elaborate. Emery was excited because he believed that it proved what he had long suspected, that is, that early Egyptians as part of the funerary ritual included cooked meals with the deceased.2 Later tombs contained not only examples of food items but more frequently paintings, sculpture, and models of food and drink, which, apparently through a magical transformation, were intended to serve as gifts to the gods or as sustenance for the deceased throughout eternity.3

Emery's interest lay more in the meal's symbolic importance than in the individual food items and what they can tell us about the state of Egyptian food technology. Foods found in Tomb 3477 fell into two general categories, those which were eaten in their natural state, whether cooked or raw, and those which had been processed in some fashion. In the former category were stewed fruit (possibly figs) and berries. Processed foods included grape wine, a triangular loaf of bread made from emmer wheat, circular honey-cakes, a sort of porridge of ground barley, various cuts and portions of beef, cleaned and dressed fish and fowl, a pigeon stew, and perhaps cheese.4 These processed foods showEgyptian knowledge of the principles of butchery, fermentation, milling, and cooking. Already, at the dawn of the historical period in Egypt, nearly 5,000 years ago, the Egyptian diet was both varied and technologically sophisticated.

1 Walter B. Emery, A Funerary Repast in an Egyptian Tomb of the Archaic Period (Leiden: Nederlands
Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1962).

2 The typicality of a such a sumptuous meal is debatable. Cf. Hilary Wilson, Egyptian Food and
Drink
(Bucks: Shire Publications Ltd., 1988), p. 11.

3 Emery, Funerary Repast, p. 2.

4 Ibid., pp. 6–7. There was also an unidentifiable liquid made of some fatty substance. The
food items were identified by Alfred Lucas, at that time chemical advisor for the Egyptian Antiq-
uities Service.

-xxiii-

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Ancient Food Technology
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sorori i
  • Technology and Change in History iv
  • Title Page v
  • Table of Contents vii
  • List of Abbreviations xi
  • List of Figures xiii
  • List of Plates xv
  • List of Maps xvii
  • Acknowledgements xix
  • Foreword xxiii
  • Part One - Prehistory 1
  • Chapter One - The Lower and Middle Paleolithic Periods 3
  • Chapter Two - Upper Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods 35
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part One 81
  • Part Two - Egypt and the Near East 91
  • Chapter Three - Egypt I 93
  • Chapter Four - Egypt II 142
  • Chapter Five - The Ancient Near East 178
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Two 243
  • Part Three - Mediterranean Civilizations 257
  • Chapter Six - The Greek World: Bronze Age Through the Hellenistic Period 259
  • Chapter Seven - Roman World I 323
  • Chapter Eight - Attack on the United States 395
  • Summary and Conclusions to Part Three 420
  • Select Bibliography 435
  • I. Geographical Index 467
  • Ii. General Index 471
  • Plates 479
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