The Feasting Theory

1. Prologue

Powerful, selfish, aggrandizing individuals on the top of society work night and day to produce a surplus with which they lure everyone else into debt. Those debts must be paid back with interest. In order to pay back the interest on the debt, everyone else in the society is forced to work harder and longer. The need to pay back loans with interest necessitates a system of constant growth. As the debts are paid back, the elites plow the capital and the interest back into even more surplus production and more loans to keep everyone else indebted to them, forcing another ratcheting up of the system. In the end, the environment is stripped bare and people end up working harder than ever in an effort to pay back the interest on loans, and a feedback loop is created of surplus, debt, interest, growth, and intensification.

Sound familiar?

Am I describing the modern capitalist economy? The modern money system? No, I’m describing the economy in prehistory.

2. The Dawn of Feasting

Early archaeologists used to depict all humans prior to the introduction of agriculture as small, nomadic hunter-gatherer bands numbering between 20 – 150 individuals moving about following the seasonal cycles of plants and animals. They owned no private property, had few possessions, cultivated no crops, had no art, mathematics, writing or literature, and constructed nothing more complex that the odd humpy, when they weren’t living in a cave, that is. Most significantly, they had no government and no social hierarchy.

As anthropologists went around the world studying various cultures, they realized that this simplistic narrative was not entirely accurate. They were amazed to find many examples all over the world of societies which practiced no agriculture, and yet nonetheless had permanent and semi-permanent settlements, made complex works of art and other objects, had rich oral traditions, possessed certain rudimentary forms of “property rights,” used sophisticated tools, constructed large monuments and temples of wood and stone, and, most significantly, had a complex hierarchy and leadership structure bordering on “government.” There are many subtleties, but anthropologists broadly characterized these societies as “complex hunter-gatherers” (or complex foragers , or sometimes “affluent foragers”), and “horticulturalists.” Furthermore, they distinguished between “immediate return” and “delayed return” hunter gatherers.

Immediate-return hunter-gatherers are what most people imagine when they use the term – they simply live off the fat of the land. Delayed-return hunter-gatherers still get most of their food from hunting and collecting plant foods, yet they make “investments” in their environment such as planting seeds, cultivating certain crops, burning underbrush, protecting favored herds from predators, breeding animals, and a host of other behaviors that will lead to increased returns of food at a later date, yet do not qualify as “agriculture” as we commonly define it. Delayed return hunter-gatherers also store food.

Complex hunter-gatherers typically concentrate on one superabundant food source that allows them to remain in one location. The classic example is the fishing cultures of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America which relied on abundant salmon runs as their principle food source. Key differences between complex foragers and simple hunter-gatherers include (taken from this source):

  • Mobility: Complex hunter-gatherers live in the same place for most of the year, or even for longer periods, in contrast to generalized hunter-gatherers who stay in one place for shorter periods and move around a lot.
  • Economy: Complex hunter-gatherers subsistence involves a large amount of food storage, whereas simple hunter-gatherers usually consume their food as soon as they harvest it. For example, among Northwest Coast populations, storage involved both meat and fish desiccation as well as creating social bonds that allowed them to have access to resources from other environments.
  • Households: Complex hunter-gatherers don’t live in small and mobile camps, but in long-term, organized households and villages. These are also clearly visible archaeologically. On the Northwest Coast, households were shared by 30 to 100 people.
  • Resources: Complex hunter-gatherers do not harvest only what is available around them, they focus on gathering specific and very productive food products and combining them with other, secondary resources. For example, in the Northwest Coast subsistence was based on salmon, but also other fish and mollusks and in smaller amounts on the forest products. Furthermore, salmon processing through desiccation involved the work of many people at the same time.
  • Technology: Both generalized and complex hunter-gatherers tend to have sophisticated tools. Complex hunter-gatherers don’t need to have light and portable objects, therefore they can invest more energy in larger and specialized tools to fish, hunt, harvest. Northwest Coast populations, for example, constructed large boats and canoes, nets, spears and harpoons, carving tools and desiccation devices.
  • Population: In North America, complex hunter-gatherers had larger populations than small size agricultural villages. Northwest Coast had among the highest population rate of North America. Villages size spanned between 100 and more than 2000 people.
  • Social hierarchy: complex hunter-gatherers had social hierarchies, and even inherited leadership. These positions included prestige, social status, and sometimes power. Northwest Coast populations had two social classes: slaves and free people. Free people were divided into chiefs and elite, a lower noble group, and commoners, who were free people with no titles and therefore with no access to leadership positions. Slaves were mostly war captives. Gender was also an important social category. Noble women had often high rank status. Finally, social status was expressed through material and immaterial elements, such as luxury goods, jewels, rich textiles, but also feasts and ceremonies.

Horticultural (or Gardening) societies are ones which cultivate certain key or desirable food resources which provide the bulk of their calories in small garden plots. They often breed certain animals for food, such as pigs or chickens. They sometimes store food, or use surplus food to feed to their animals as a form of storage (in New Guinea, excess yams are used to fatten pigs which are subsequently used for food). These garden plots and animal pens mean that such societies are usually at least semi-stationary, often occupying “home bases” throughout much of the year. Horticultural societies can be defined as:

A horticultural society is a social system based on horticulture, a mode of production in which digging sticks are used to cultivate small gardens. This type of society emerged around 7000 BC in Asia and it was the first type of society to actually grow their own food rather than simply gather existing food and hunt animals. As a result, the accumulation of food and goods was possible and with it, a more complex division of labor, more substantial dwellings, and a small amount of trade.

Examples of the above were found by anthropologists in places like the Pacific Northwest coast, the New Guinea highlands, certain other parts of North America and Southwest Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands and Melanesia. By studying these societies, anthropologists gained key insights into how hierarchy, leadership, and government slowly emerged from egalitarian nomadic foraging bands.

One of them is archaeologist Brian Hayden of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada. His work centered around one of the world’s major complex foraging societies: the salmon fishing cultures of the Pacific Northwest. These were cultures which practiced no agrarian farming, and yet had a rich, complex culture, with various levels of chiefs, rank stratification, permanent villages, and even slaves. Hayden wondered how societies transformed from ones where everything was once accessible to all and hierarchy minimal, to ones in which key resources were under the exclusive control of individuals and families, and people became ranked from birth.

Hayden characterizes societies undergoing this transition as transegalitarian societies. There are societies where there is a clear ranking of individuals, yet there are no “formal” offices or any kind of institutional “government.” Leadership is by consensus on an ad-hoc basis rather than coercion and cannot be inherited. Anthropologists recognized that these societies were the bridge between Paleolithic hunter-gatherers and the complex states most of live under today.

Transegalitarian hunter-gathers, also known as complex hunter-gatherers, have been defined as those hunter-gatherer societies that display some degree of socioeconomic inequality, follow a sedentary or semisedentary settlement pattern with permanent dwellings grouped in relatively dense settlements, and exhibit socioeconomic inequality through the use of prestige goods or other such measures. Many groups also possess methods for storing surplus foods. (PRP: 125)

It is now thought that a number of human societies in certain resource-rich and favorable locations prior to the Neolithic Revolution can be thought of in the above terms rather than as simply “immediate return” or simple hunter-gathers. Archaeologists refer to a “broad spectrum revolution” in human prehistory where we began relying more on plant foods that could be harvested, processed, and stored, rather than exclusively on big-game hunting. For example, nuts and seeds could be shelled, pounded, soaked and stored in pits; salmon could be smoked. In fact, granaries actually predate agriculture, indicating that food storage goes back a long way. It is thought that this emphasis on plant foods was an adaptation to the changing climate at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (Ice Age), when the great herds disappeared or moved north, the megafauna died off due to a changing climate or perhaps human predation (most likely a bit of both) and carbon in the atmosphere was increasing, spurring the growth of plants. Plant foods were just easier to get, so that’s what we focused on  (even though they were much more work to process).

In such complex societies where the food production could be steadily increased through individual and cooperative effort and stored for long periods of time, people no longer had to worry about absolute scarcity; they could instead produce a fairly reliable surplus. This surplus was used as a way for certain individuals to gain power and prestige, and snowball that into hereditary leadership positions and hierarchical social rank as the society grew and became larger and more complex. This explains how societies where everything was once held in common were transformed into ones where key resources were “owned” by certain individuals and families, and decision-making become confined to prominent elites rather than being determined by group consensus. It is important to recognize that such changes took place over very long stretches of time, sometimes thousands of years.

In the Pleistocene, humans and their immediate ancestors made their living primarily as big-game hunters. The hunting of large mammals required extraordinary coordination and teamwork which is only possible with a social group species. But why cooperate in the hunt if some alpha is just going to keep all the meat for himself? Hoarding and autocratic control would undermine the cooperation necessary for successful group hunting. Therefore, equal sharing of the kill prevailed, and overt hierarchy was suppressed, as Christopher Boehm, author of Hierarchy in the Forest explains:

People started hunting large ungulates, or hoofed mammals. They were very dedicated to hunting, and it was an important part of their subsistence…my theory is that you cannot have alpha males if you are going to have a hunting team that shares the meat fairly evenhandedly, so that the entire team stays nourished. In order to get meat divided within a band of people who are by nature pretty hierarchical, you have to basically stomp on hierarchy and get it out of the way…My hypothesis is that when they started large game hunting, they had to start really punishing alpha males and holding them down. That set up a selection pressure in the sense that, if you couldn’t control your alpha tendencies, you were going to get killed or run out of the group, which was about the same as getting killed. Therefore, self-control became an important feature for individuals who were reproductively successful. And self-control translates into conscience.

Boehm calls this “a conspiracy of the weak to dominate the strong.” Under this system, aggressive bullies would not be tolerated. They would be ganged up on and rejected by the group, or otherwise humiliated. One way to accomplish this is through gossip; another is through ridicule, and both were likely deployed on a regular basis, as they still are today, in fact. Notice how the antics and foibles of today’s celebrities and politicians provide grist for thousands of media outlets and comedians. The “social brain hypothesis” posits that navigating the complex world of social interactions was what drove human intelligence, and by extension, brain growth, which roughly doubled during the Pleistocene. Large amounts of meat would have provided the raw material for such growth, and quite possibly, fire would have freed up scarce bioenergetic resources. Cooked food would have unlocked more energy from food allowing our teeth, jaws and guts to shrink, allowing our skulls to expand and more food energy to be dedicated to brain growth.

By contrast, in societies where everyone was assured a minimal food supply in good times and bad, and the landbase could tolerate more intensive growing/breeding efforts, the old social restrictions against excess accumulation were lifted and the requirement to share with the rest of the tribe were relaxed. In places where “individual effort” and “hard work” could bring forth fairly reliable food surpluses without damaging the resource base, it was determined that this increase would belong to the person or persons who produced it in the interest of “fairness.” This was the beginning of intensification and private property.

“Under conditions where resources become significantly more abundant, more dependable, and less vulnerable to overexploitation than in generalized hunter-gatherer communities (due to a new extractive and/or storage technology combined with favorable productive environments), it is no longer critical to share all resources since most domestic groups can be assured of adequate food under normal conditions. In contrast to egalitarian hunter-gatherer communities where even the most determined efforts to procure food could often meet with limited success, resources in transegalitarian communities could be had easily enough in normal times so that lack of food was due more to laziness than bad luck.”

“Under these conditions families began to produce food exclusively for themsleves and claim ownership rights over the food they produced and stored. Direct ownership over procured food became especially important where extra effort was required to properly prepare foods for long-term storage and where there was a need to conserve stored foods for use during lean seasons. One’s self-interest dictated that the effort spent to obtain food (where everyone could satisfy their own needs) should primarily benefit oneself. Direct ownership was essential to prevent excessive “mooching,” a pervasive emic theme in many transegalitarian ethnographies…”(FOI)

This is in stark contrast to simple foraging societies where:

“Economic surpluses  are limited or inconsequential or unreliable. The uncertainties of success in hunting and gathering render sharing necessary for survival. For similar reasons, there is no restricted access to resources, no competition over resources, and no accumulation of wealth.”(FOI)

Anthropologists have noted that nearly every culture across the world throws regular feasts. Moreover, such behavior goes very far back in history:

A huge ancient settlement used by the people who built Stonehenge has been found, archaeologists have said.

Excavations at Durrington Walls, near the legendary Salisbury Plain monument, uncovered remains of ancient houses. People seem to have occupied the sites seasonally, using them for ritual feasting and funeral ceremonies. In ancient times, this settlement would have housed hundreds of people, making it the largest Neolithic village ever found in Britain.

Professor Parker Pearson …thinks the settlement was probably not lived in all year round. Instead, he believes, Stonehenge and Durrington formed a religious complex used for funerary rituals. He believes it drew Neolithic people from all over the region, who came for massive feasts in the midwinter, where prodigious quantities of food were consumed. The bones were then tossed on the floors of the houses. “The rubbish isn’t your average domestic debris. There’s a lack of craft-working equipment for cleaning animal hides and no evidence for crop-processing,” he said. “The animal bones are being thrown away half-eaten. It’s what we call a feasting assemblage. This is where they went to party – you could say it was the first free festival.”

Stonehenge builders’ houses found (BBC)

It began with the excavation of an oval grave pit in the cave floor. Next, a layer of objects was cached between large stones, including seashells, a broken basalt palette, red ochre, chalk, and several complete tortoise shells. These were covered by a layer of sediment containing ashes, and garbage composed of flint and animal bones. About halfway through the ritual, the woman was laid inside the pit in a child-bearing position, and special items including many more tortoise shells were placed on top of and around her. This was followed by another layer of filling and limestones of various sizes that were placed directly on the body. The ritual concluded with the sealing of the grave with a large, heavy stone.

A wide range of activities took place in preparation for the funerary event. This included the collection of materials required for grave construction, and the capture and preparation of animals for the feast, particularly the 86 tortoises, which must have been time-consuming. “The significant pre-planning implies that there was a defined ‘to do’ list, and a working plan of ritual actions and their order,” said Prof. Grosman.

Reconstruction of 12,000 year old funeral feast brings ancient burial rituals to life (Science Daily)

With abundant and reliable surpluses, throwing large feasts became a way to convert those surpluses into wider social food-sharing networks that would act as hedges against periodic shortages in one particular geographic area. In other words, it was an early form of risk-pooling (or insurance). Such feasts also acted as bonding events where people would reaffirm their connections to the gods and to each other through ritual, song, and dance. At such feasting events, marriages would be arranged, goods would be exchanged, and military alliances would be sealed, all under the watchful gaze of the gods and the ancestors:

“Once people began keeping and, where necessary, storing produce for themselves, it would have been natural to produce surpluses as hedges against periodic shortages or even to produce surpluses for minor exchange or gifts as had always been the practice among hunter-gatherers at a small scale to create alliances… Thus, it should be adaptive for most families to store somewhat more than needed on an annual basis but not so much that the extra surplus can never be used. This leaves many families with a regular overproduction of surplus in normal years. Can this unneeded surplus be used to further reduce risks? In order to do so, some means must be found that is capable of transforming food surpluses into other useful goods, services, debts, or relationships. I argue that the transegalitarian feasting complex constitutes the primary mechanism for doing this.”

Regular feasting was a thus a risk-reduction strategy that was possible in places with a suitably abundant resource base. In hunter-gatherer societies where food was not grown or stored, risk reduction strategies were much more limited. Your options were pretty much confined to simple food sharing, moving on to other locations, or expropriating the resources of other tribes through raiding. Feasting would have been an ideal strategy for complex foragers/horticulturalists because it would have differentiated those individuals and groups capable of producing large, reliable food surpluses from those who could not. This served as a way to ensure that only those who could could contribute were allowed into the ‘feasting circle,’ and exclude any outsiders and moochers, thus spurring continuously higher production which hedged against future shortages. Think Stone-Age potluck:

“Simple hunting and gathering bands overwhelmingly relied on sharing, territoriality, regional alliances, mobility, and the creation of enemies to cope with high-risk situations. Due to the overriding importance of the obligatory sharing of resources in most band societies…agriculture was incompatible with simple forager risk-reduction strategies…semiprivate ownership and storage had to be established before agriculture could be expected to develop.”

“…it is likely that with the emergence of complex hunting and gathering societies (where individual ownership of produce and resource areas was the norm), a number of new risk-reduction strategies developed while some previously used strategies underwent major transformations. The new strategies emphasized by complex hunter-gatherers included storage, manipulation of plants and animals (encompassing transplanting and cultivation, clam gardens, stocking of fish, and “fire-stick farming”), exchanges of wealth for food, improved subsistence procurement and extraction technologies, feasting, and possibly centralized redistribution. In place of reciprocal sharing, strategies such as the long-term storage of privately owned produce by individual families or kin groups provided the most reliable means to manage the variability in resource availability from day to day and from year to year. Those who could produce surpluses on a large enough scale could also acquire prestige items that could be exchanged for food in times of need (simple food exchange).”

“…private ownership of resources and produce were incompatible with community-wide obligatory sharing as a risk-reduction strategy. However, pooling risk through restricted reciprocal-sharing networks involved selected productive and reliable individuals would have been a very effective risk-reduction strategy. The result, I suggest, was the emergence of adaptive feasting-based “social safety networks” that pooled risks within certain segments of communities but demanded continuous surplus contributions from members.”

“Because feasting is repeated at regular intervals and because it demands surplus economic production and contributions, it is performance grounded and capable of easily and effectively eliminating freeloaders and cheaters. They are simply not invited to participate in subsequent events and are thus excluded from support networks. Undesirable noncontributors can be, and are, eliminated from the network even if they are kin. Thus, successful feasting dramatically reduces the risks surrounding food production, procreation, and survival in unstable and conflict-ridden environments but effectively ties this to being productive in subsistence and committed to contributing goods and labor to networking endeavors. Feasting establishes the personal ties upon which transegalitarian social safety networks are predicated.”

Such food-sharing networks would have been manipuated by elites or those with wider social connections, such as headmen or shamans. Therefore, food-sharing regional networks would also have played a role in contributing to inequality:

“Elite members of transegalitarian societies created unusually long-distance networks based on kinship, ritual ties, and exchange relationships. Maintaining such networks entailed great expenditures and considerable time. In contrast, normal community members maintained, on average, much smaller and more local networks. Thus, elites would have had greater flexibility to cope with resource fluctuations.”

“In addition to kinship networks, ritual continued to be used as a means of establishing or reinforcing close reciprocal cooperative bonds between members of different communities only involved elite and wealthy individuals. I suspect that such elite ritual organizations took the form of regional secret societies with costly membership fees and specialized facilities and paraphernalia (hence the regional archaeological ritual centers such as Gobeckli Tepe in Turkey and Kfar HaHoresh in the Levant). Ritual links to distant communities were probably not possible to establish from most nonelites due to the high costs involved.”

Hayden realized that such regular, ritual feasting events opened the door to certain highly-motivated individuals to come up with a way to use the surpluses created thereby as a means to gain higher rank and power.

“Once the egalitarian fetters (that were developed to deal with highly variable individual foraging success and recurring shortages) were relaxed under improved resource conditions, ambitious individuals must have realized that there were surpluses, or potential surpluses, capable of being generated within their communities that were going to waste. If they could but devise a means to manipulate community interests, these ambitious, accumulative aggrandizers could control some of the surplus and derive considerable benefit for themselves. The best and most highly motivated minds of an epoch began to scheme….”(FOI: 29)

“The primary problem that ambitious individuals would have faced when starting out in egalitarian communities would have been, first, how to get people to produce surpluses, i.e. to do more work than necessary for their own subsistence needs, and secondly, how to concentrate the benefits of those surpluses in the hands of the ambitious. I have called such ambitious individuals “accumulators”, while others have called them “aggrandizers”, or “acqusitors.” To accommodate all these terms, one might refer to these people as individuals with “Triple A” personalities.” (p FSQ: 131)

Hayden describes Triple-A personalities as:

“…any ambitious, enterprising, aggressive, accumulative individual who strives to become dominant in a community, especially be economic means. The term subsumes Great Men, Head Men, Big Men, elites, and chiefs.”

Every society has a certain portion of these people due to the natural range of human personality types:

“Any human population numbering more than 50-100 individuals will include some ambitious individuals who will aggressively strive to enhance their own self-interest over those of other community members. This is a simple given of variability in human psychology…Such individuals have always been a force to be reckoned with, in some cases being repressed, in some cases being channeled into noneconomic domains such as ritual competition, and in some cases being given greater freedom to compete. This is equivalent to the assumptions of others that a tendency toward inequality is inherent in all societies, and is only restrained or permitted free reign by a system of checks and balances reflecting economic conditions and the self-interest of other community members.”

Hayden therefore posits that inequality thus develops not out of the addition of certain factors, but rather by the removal of them. That is, a tendency toward inequality is inherent in all societies due to the natural variation in personality described above, and it is only kept in check by group dynamics and social norms developed during the long period of big-game hunting. Once those systems of “checks and balances” were lifted, inequality starts to metastasize largely of its own accord, like a cancer. In other words, it is not something added to a society, but rather something taken away, that begins the snowballing path toward inequality. He writes: “Inequality….can therefore be explained best not as the development of any formal organization of ‘ranking’ or ‘stratification,’ but rather, as the inevitable result of the lifting of the constraints that produce strict egalitarianism.”

What Hayden realized is that these feasts were the main driver of the production of surpluses in complex foraging and horticultural societies, and that aggressive, aggrandizing, ambitious “Triple-A” individuals could use these feasts in various ways to manipulate the society around them by overproduction and getting everyone else in debt to them (feigning generosity), and then converting that debt into social power, or prestige. The evidence from anthropologists all over the world showed that the people who generated the greatest surplus production and entered into contractual debts through feasting were invariably the most important people in any transegalitarian society:

“In order to answer the question of how ambitious individuals starting off in egalitarian societies could transform excess production into personal power …I realized that ethnographic accounts of competitive feasts involving contractual debts provided an important key that has been largely neglected …. ”

“The key feature that I saw as important did not involve redistribution as a central mechanism, but rather debt (FSI: 24)…It is relatively clear how competitive feasts (versus other feast types) can generate power and how they appeal to the self-interest of supporters. The Entrepreneur/Big Man organizers benefit by establishing a wide network of contractual debt relationships that motivate people to produce and surrender surpluses that Entrepreneurs can disproportionately control. If successful, Entrepreneurs therefore exert more control over labor and also obtain direct material profits in the form of increases in wealth. The supporters hope to profit from their investments in feasts by promises from entrepreneurs of repayments with interest for their contributions, as well as increased influence in the affairs of the community through their close association with the aggrandizers of the community.”(FSI: p25)

“The bottom line of using feasts in the quest for wealth and power is (1) that people commit themselves to producing a surplus, (2) that the surplus is loaned out, (3) that lenders expect to benefit, and (4) that feast organizers expect to benefit even more.
The specific benefits or other details may vary, but these core features are probably constant. “(FSI: 47)

Feasts were given for a number of different reasons:

1. Economic feasts, which in turn can be broken down into competitive-producing feasts involving loans and interest in relation to food production, and “festive work-party feasts,” where organizers try to attract people (labor) to work for them on a one-time basis to accomplish a specific task that will benefit the organizers, such as gathering iron ore or smelting it.

2. Redistribution feasts, which seek to bond (or control) labor (people) to organizers on a more permanent basis than the festive work-party feast. In both cases material distributions are used to achieve the respective goals, although the quantities, value, and types of materials used are often quite different. Where control of labor is the key to wealth or military success, redistibutive feasts become highly competitive.

3. Diacritical feasts are used to create exclusive elite circles that exclude lower classes, display status and belonging of the participants, and engage in rank competition within the group. (FSQ: 128-129)

These different reasons for feasting and different levels of surplus production based on the environmental conditions lead Hayden to develop a continuum of societies from petty despots all the way up to hereditary chiefdoms to describe the gradual path toward permanent social stratification. As the resource base becomes more abundant, and hence the ability to produce surpluses ever greater, the aggrandizers develop new and more effective techniques and strategies to enhance their control over key resources, labor, and decision making. Anthropologists had long recognized these techniques, and had given various terms to the Triple-A personalities found within these groups: Great Men, Head Men and Big Men. Each one differed in the techniques they used to gain power and influence in their group, but they all had one thing in common–the desire for power. Hayden classifies these societies on a ladder from the least amount of surplus to the greatest: Despots, Reciprocators and Entrepreneurs.

“I will suggest that as the potential for surplus production increases, inequalities also progressively increases [sic] through Despot, Reciprocator, and finally entrepreneur types of organization…These are roughly equivalent to the social anthropological terms of Great Men (Despots), Head Men (Reciprocators), and Big Men (Entrepreneurs)…various kinds of public feasts constitute one of the most critical strategies at all three of these levels and have direct archaeological consequences.”(FSI: 25)

The techniques they used, and this ladder of inequality, is what we’ll be discussing next time.

FSI: Foundations of Social Inequality. edited by T. Douglas Price, Gary M. Feinman

FSQ: Food and the Status Quest: An Interdisciplinary Perspective. Pauline Wilson Wiessner, Polly Wiessner, Wulf Schiefenhövel

PRP: Prehistoric Rites of Passage: A Comparative Study of Transegalitarian Hunter–Gatherers. D’Ann Owens and Brian Hayden, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology Article NO. 16, 121 – 161 (1997)

One thought on “The Feasting Theory

  1. And then a certain group, described at length in writings many of us know as the ‘Old Testament’, realised that lending with usury – at least among themselves – was the road to ruin and was to be prohibited. They even established a regular day of rest and a Jubilee, as belt and braces. The writings we know as the ‘New Testament’ continue the theme, extending the applicability to all nations.

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