Nighttime Food of the Ancient Maya

Author(s): David Reed; W. Scott Zeleznik; Nan Gonlin

Year: 2017


Societies, present and past, consume particular foods at certain times of the day, and these foods often symbolize quotidian practices. Even in American culture, certain foods are taboo at certain times and in certain contexts, such as desert after breakfast or the increasing concern of healthy eating with respect to bedtime snacking. Food functions as a social vehicle beyond its nutritional value, and mealtimes or food events serve as occasions to reinforce culturally appropriate behaviors. Furthermore, chronobiology posits that the circadian rhythm influences metabolism and food consumption patterns. We have previously shown that food is a marker of social distinction for the ancient Maya through paleodietary reconstructions, production technologies, bioarchaeological analyses, and glyphic readings. Whether for energy replenishment or ritual purposes, we expand on previous work to begin understanding the sustenance of the Maya diet and how nighttime eating was distinguished from consumption at other times of the day. Drawing on a larger theoretical perspective, consumption practices are set in the context of agents and recursive structures that established enduring practices of routinized and ritualized nighttime food consumption and how that may have aided social structures of inclusion and exclusion, and reinforced social connections and possibly dominance hierarchies.

Cite this Record

Nighttime Food of the Ancient Maya. David Reed, W. Scott Zeleznik, Nan Gonlin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431051)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16186