Funerals and feasts during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B of the Near East

Nigel Goring-Morris, Liora Kolska Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evidence for a Neolithic funeral feast has been excavated in northern Israel. A herd of eight wild cattle (aurochs) were slaughtered and joints of their meat placed in a pit which was covered over and the human burial laid on top. This was covered in turn with plaster, but the human skull was later removed through an accurately sited hole. It was the feast that began this funerary sequence, and the authors conservatively calculate that it provided a minimum of 500kg of meat. Given a 200g steak apiece this could theoretically feed some 2500 people, endorsing the authors' claim that the site was a central cult site serving surrounding villages. It is also suggested that the aurochs skulls, missing from the pit, may have been reserved for ritual purposes elsewhere, an early example of the Near Eastern bull cult that was later to have a long history in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)902-919
Number of pages18
JournalAntiquity
Volume81
Issue number314
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Aurochs
  • Feasting
  • Israel
  • Levant
  • Mortuary behaviour
  • Neolithic
  • PPNB

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