Identifying high-status foods in the archeological record

L. Antonio Curet, William Pestle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

More than providing simply nutritive value, food in human societies can be endowed with great social weight. Aspects of any given food system inform, and are informed by, a variety of social, economic, religious, historical, ecological, cultural, and political processes. Moreover, food systems are often intentionally designed and executed to communicate key aspects of a consumer's identity including class or social status. The manipulation of food systems on the part of socio-political elites or high status individuals is but one example of this phenomenon, the appearance of which is a correlate of increased socio-political hierarchy. As food can come to be used by elites as a socio-political tool in stratified societies, the temptation to use archeologically recognizable differences in foodways as a means of understanding the origin, nature, and functioning of processes of stratification is strong. The obvious difficulty lies in developing theoretically informed methods that reckon food system differences in ways that enable scholars to identify those foods that may have been particularly imbued with social meaning. In this paper, we propose a metric for the identification of elite foods (or, indeed, socially valued foods) using the types of data typically available to archeologists. Based on these proposed criteria, we attempt to unravel the complex and politically charged food system of the stratified societies of the pre-Columbian Greater Antilles with an eye towards refining our understanding of the development and maintenance of prestige and institutionalized power therein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-431
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

food
elite
society
Food Systems
Archaeological Record
Food
Caribbean Region
political elite
prestige
social economics
Refining
manipulation
social status
Economics
Elites
Values

Keywords

  • Caribbean
  • Elite
  • Food
  • High status
  • Puerto Rico
  • Social value

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Archaeology
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology

Cite this

Identifying high-status foods in the archeological record. / Curet, L. Antonio; Pestle, William.

In: Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Vol. 29, No. 4, 12.2010, p. 413-431.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{0e5a4a83ccbf44f0b6f92e3119bb795f,
title = "Identifying high-status foods in the archeological record",
abstract = "More than providing simply nutritive value, food in human societies can be endowed with great social weight. Aspects of any given food system inform, and are informed by, a variety of social, economic, religious, historical, ecological, cultural, and political processes. Moreover, food systems are often intentionally designed and executed to communicate key aspects of a consumer's identity including class or social status. The manipulation of food systems on the part of socio-political elites or high status individuals is but one example of this phenomenon, the appearance of which is a correlate of increased socio-political hierarchy. As food can come to be used by elites as a socio-political tool in stratified societies, the temptation to use archeologically recognizable differences in foodways as a means of understanding the origin, nature, and functioning of processes of stratification is strong. The obvious difficulty lies in developing theoretically informed methods that reckon food system differences in ways that enable scholars to identify those foods that may have been particularly imbued with social meaning. In this paper, we propose a metric for the identification of elite foods (or, indeed, socially valued foods) using the types of data typically available to archeologists. Based on these proposed criteria, we attempt to unravel the complex and politically charged food system of the stratified societies of the pre-Columbian Greater Antilles with an eye towards refining our understanding of the development and maintenance of prestige and institutionalized power therein.",
keywords = "Caribbean, Elite, Food, High status, Puerto Rico, Social value",
author = "Curet, {L. Antonio} and William Pestle",
year = "2010",
month = "12",
doi = "10.1016/j.jaa.2010.08.003",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "29",
pages = "413--431",
journal = "Journal of Anthropological Archaeology",
issn = "0278-4165",
publisher = "Academic Press Inc.",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Identifying high-status foods in the archeological record

AU - Curet, L. Antonio

AU - Pestle, William

PY - 2010/12

Y1 - 2010/12

N2 - More than providing simply nutritive value, food in human societies can be endowed with great social weight. Aspects of any given food system inform, and are informed by, a variety of social, economic, religious, historical, ecological, cultural, and political processes. Moreover, food systems are often intentionally designed and executed to communicate key aspects of a consumer's identity including class or social status. The manipulation of food systems on the part of socio-political elites or high status individuals is but one example of this phenomenon, the appearance of which is a correlate of increased socio-political hierarchy. As food can come to be used by elites as a socio-political tool in stratified societies, the temptation to use archeologically recognizable differences in foodways as a means of understanding the origin, nature, and functioning of processes of stratification is strong. The obvious difficulty lies in developing theoretically informed methods that reckon food system differences in ways that enable scholars to identify those foods that may have been particularly imbued with social meaning. In this paper, we propose a metric for the identification of elite foods (or, indeed, socially valued foods) using the types of data typically available to archeologists. Based on these proposed criteria, we attempt to unravel the complex and politically charged food system of the stratified societies of the pre-Columbian Greater Antilles with an eye towards refining our understanding of the development and maintenance of prestige and institutionalized power therein.

AB - More than providing simply nutritive value, food in human societies can be endowed with great social weight. Aspects of any given food system inform, and are informed by, a variety of social, economic, religious, historical, ecological, cultural, and political processes. Moreover, food systems are often intentionally designed and executed to communicate key aspects of a consumer's identity including class or social status. The manipulation of food systems on the part of socio-political elites or high status individuals is but one example of this phenomenon, the appearance of which is a correlate of increased socio-political hierarchy. As food can come to be used by elites as a socio-political tool in stratified societies, the temptation to use archeologically recognizable differences in foodways as a means of understanding the origin, nature, and functioning of processes of stratification is strong. The obvious difficulty lies in developing theoretically informed methods that reckon food system differences in ways that enable scholars to identify those foods that may have been particularly imbued with social meaning. In this paper, we propose a metric for the identification of elite foods (or, indeed, socially valued foods) using the types of data typically available to archeologists. Based on these proposed criteria, we attempt to unravel the complex and politically charged food system of the stratified societies of the pre-Columbian Greater Antilles with an eye towards refining our understanding of the development and maintenance of prestige and institutionalized power therein.

KW - Caribbean

KW - Elite

KW - Food

KW - High status

KW - Puerto Rico

KW - Social value

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=78349307330&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=78349307330&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.jaa.2010.08.003

DO - 10.1016/j.jaa.2010.08.003

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:78349307330

VL - 29

SP - 413

EP - 431

JO - Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

JF - Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

SN - 0278-4165

IS - 4

ER -