How the village feast paved the way to empires and economics
Hayden (Brian)
Source: Aeon, 16 November, 2016
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Conclusion

  1. Even today, it is remarkable that domestic animals in the tribal villages are almost never used for normal meals: they are universally reserved for sacrifice and consumption at feasts. Such a strong ethnographic pattern seems to imply that this was the original purpose for keeping and domesticating animals. Hill-tribe villages in Southeast Asia explicitly view the raising of domestic animals as similar to putting money in the bank. People use surpluses to raise animals that will profit them in the future through feasting benefits.
  2. The reliance on feasting to convert surpluses into power continued after the domestication of plants and animals into the Neolithic, the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. Feasting was also integral to the early Sumerian city states as well as to Classical Roman elite culture and politics. It virtually ran the Incan Empire in South America. Far different from the gustatory and social entertainment of modern feasting, traditional feasts were entertainment with ulterior motives and binding debts that have produced the kind of surplus-based industrial society with all its inequalities that much of the world lives in today. Where would we be without feasts? I believe we would still be hunters and gatherers.

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