Feast: Why Humans Share Food

Front Cover
Oxford Univ., Jun 22, 2007 - Cooking - 364 pages
4 Reviews
For the majority of creatures on this earth, the elements of our first meals together--a flashing fire, bared teeth, a quantity of food placed in the center of a group of hungry animals--spell trouble in a myriad of ways. For us, the idea of a group of people coming together for a meal seems like the most natural thing in the world. The family dinner, a client luncheon, a holiday spread--a huge part of our social lives is spent eating in company. How did eating together become such a common occurrence for man? In Feast, archaeologist Martin Jones presents both historic and modern scientific evidence to illuminate how humans first came to share food and the ways in which the human meal has developed since that time. He also shows how our culture of feasting has had far-reaching consequences for human social evolution.
By studying the activities of our closest relatives, chimpanzees, and unearthing ancient hearths, some over 30,000 years old, scientists have been able to piece together a picture of how our ancient ancestors found, killed, cooked, and divided food supplies. They have also created a timeline showing the introduction of increasingly advanced tools and sophisticated social customs. In sites uncovered all over the world, fragments of bone, remnants of charred food, pieces of stone or clay serving vessels, and the outlines of ancient halls tell the story of how we slowly developed the complex traditions of eating we recognize in our own societies today. Jones takes on a tour of the most fascinating sites and artifacts that have been discovered, and shows us how archeologists are able to make their fascination conclusions. In addition, he traces the rise of such recent phenomena as biscuits, "going out to eat," and the Thanksgiving-themed TV dinner.
From the earliest evidence of human consumption around half a million years ago to the era of the drive-through diner, this fascinating account unfolds the history of the human meal and its huge impact on human society.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: Feast: Why Humans Share Food

User Review  - Jason - Goodreads

Fascinating. Read full review

Review: Feast: Why Humans Share Food

User Review  - Margaret Sankey - Goodreads

This is the archeological wing of food history. Using vignettes based on key archeological sites, Jones reconstructs the way in which humans developed the desire and self control to domesticate, cook ... Read full review

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)


Martin Jones is George Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological Science at the University of Cambridge, and specializes in the study of the fragmentary archaeological remains of early food. In the 1990s he was Chairman of the Ancient Biomolecule Initiative that pioneered some of the most important new methods of archaeological science used in such research. His previous books include The Molecule Hunt: archaeology and the search for ancient DNA, published by Penguin.

Bibliographic information