Feasting, shared drinking, and social complexity in Early Bronze Age Anatolia

Author(s): Jess Whalen

Year: 2015


The Early Bronze Age II-III in Anatolia (2700-2000 BC) is a period of intensifying personal distinction. New tin-bronze metallurgy yields exquisitely crafted jewelry, ceremonial weapons, and drinking vessels, sumptuary activities appropriate to an emerging elite class. Yet it is difficult to characterize the structure of EBA settlements; a lack of writing and sealing practices suggest that there was no central administration. This contrasts with contemporaneous sites in southeastern Turkey and in Mesopotamia, whose metallurgy, craft production, exchange, and other developments were overseen by temple and palace complexes.

Drinking activities offer a unique window into the social lives of Anatolian community members. In the west, double-handled tankards are designed to share drink together with others, in a setting in which drinking does not stop. On the north-central plateau, small cups and shallow bowls are balanced upon fingertips in a display of drinking prowess. Feasting contexts and the spread of drinking shapes in different regions provide insight into the activities that characterized drinking events. Together with settlement architecture and other indices, this evidence can be used to reconstruct different options for the role of elites within settlements, and different possibilities for how settlement of the period were structured.

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Feasting, shared drinking, and social complexity in Early Bronze Age Anatolia. Jess Whalen. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398361)

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