ANE 170: Food and Identity in Ancient Israel




Food and eating profoundly shaped social, religious, economic, and cultural life in antiquity. This course will explore how dietary practices established social bonds and ethnic boundaries in ancient Israel, as well as the importance of food in mediating the Israelites’ relationships with God, animals, and the environment. The course will be structured around key themes that concern patterns of eating in ancient Israel and the Near East, including food prohibitions, sacrifice, royal banquets, commensality, and trade. We will be particularly concerned with identifying key historical developments that affected Israelite culinary practice and ideas about food, with a view to understanding how food became closely connected to issues of identity in ancient Judaism. Students will also be introduced to anthropological approaches to food, diets, and commensality, and learn to reflect critically on how such theoretical lenses might be applied to the study of ancient dietary patterns. Hebrew not required.