Animal Bones from Hazor, Israel and a Cautionary Tale of Interpreting Past Ritual

Author(s): Justin Lev-Tov

Year: 2018


Within recent years, feasting and other forms of ritual consumption have become more frequently identified in the archaeozoological record of the ancient Near East. Reasons for more frequent identification of ritual sacrifices and feasts vary, but two driving forces certainly are archaeological context, bones found in or near special architecture, and the cultural milieu formed by the region’s ancient textual record. In contrast, I have a skeptical tale to tell of ritual production and consumption. This tale takes place at the site of Hazor, a Bronze and Iron Age city mound in Israel. The site has all the correct elements to demonstrate ancient food-related rituals: It was a city of great size and importance; a place where excavations have revealed temples and/or impressive palaces, cuneiform texts and statues of gods; and which produced large bone assemblages. Yet archaeozoological analyses demonstrate a disjuncture between bone patterning on one hand and expectations set by texts and contexts on the other. The question is how to understand the bone debris left by Hazor’s elite: Does it represent the diet of uncharacteristically proletarian rulers and priests, or does the patterning present a cautionary tale about too much reliance on text and context?

Cite this Record

Animal Bones from Hazor, Israel and a Cautionary Tale of Interpreting Past Ritual. Justin Lev-Tov. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 445170)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: 34.277; min lat: 13.069 ; max long: 61.699; max lat: 42.94 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21288