The study of feasting has gradually emerged from early descriptions and bewilderment to more sophisticated attempts to understand the logic and reasons behind the often lavish displays. We chart the various models that have been, and still are, used by anthropologists and archaeologists to explain this unique human behavior. Acquiring prestige is a popular explanation used by ethnographers, while coping with social conflicts is commonly invoked by archaeologists. However, more practical benefits behind feasts have also been proposed, as well as experiential motivations. Whichever explanation is endorsed, there is widespread agreement that feasts play important roles in establishing social identities and memories, creating political power and inequalities, gender identities, accomplishing work, and developing prestige technologies, possibly including domesticates.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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