Lacklustre offering plates? Symbolic food consumption, ritual and representations in ancient Egyptian funerary culture

Zinn, Katharina (2016) Lacklustre offering plates? Symbolic food consumption, ritual and representations in ancient Egyptian funerary culture. In: Exploring the materiality of food 'stuffs': transformations, symbolic consumptions and embodiments. Routledge Series in Archaeology . Routledge, New York, pp. 205-225. ISBN 978-1-138-94119-9

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Food is bound to or carried by supporting materiality in the form of artefacts in very different materials, forms, shapes and sizes for its different states of production, retrieval, extraction, preparation, storage, and consumption. Sometimes this material culture becomes very closely connected to a specific (group of) food product(s), as certain types of beer vessels, storage containers or bread moulds in ancient Egypt tell us. Occasionally, the artefacts even become a synonym for the food stuff it should have carried or contained. The carrier then acts as a symbolic substitute for the whole package consisting of the container and real or symbolic food. These often very simple substitutes or models perform as representations in the process of symbolic afterlife food consumption. The offering plate CC 308.004 from Cyfarthfa Castle Museums and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil (Wales) does not usually appeal to museum visitors due to its very basic design and rough manufacture, but is to be seen in line with the lavish offering stands and tables known from ancient Egyptian tombs. The act of ritualistic offering of these simplistic and empty plates should not be seen as non-consumption, but helped magically to provision and nourish the dead with everything necessary to live on in the afterlife. Therefore it stands as a marker for foodstuffs, food consumption, consumed sustenance and explains an important part of ancient Egyptian afterlife beliefs. To understand the ambivalence between actual and symbolic food consumption and the expression of both in the materiality of the object was the goal of this extended object biography. What is of greater interest is the link between the narrative of the object, foodstuffs and the connected social worlds that it represents (Steel 2013, esp. 190-6). What has been presented here is a narrative of realistic and potential life cycle and the biography of a single lacklustre object CC308.004 with its incredible interesting storyline.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Food, Material culture
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Katharina Zinn
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2018 14:03
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2020 10:16

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