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Ancestral Appetites
Food in Prehistory


  • Date Published: May 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521727075

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About the Authors
  • This book explores the relationship between prehistoric people and their food - what they ate, why they ate it and how researchers have pieced together the story of past foodways from material traces. Contemporary human food traditions encompass a seemingly infinite variety, but all are essentially strategies for meeting basic nutritional needs developed over millions of years. Humans are designed by evolution to adjust our feeding behaviour and food technology to meet the demands of a wide range of environments through a combination of social and experiential learning. In this book, Kristen J. Gremillion demonstrates how these evolutionary processes have shaped the diversification of human diet over several million years of prehistory. She draws on evidence extracted from the material remains that provide the only direct evidence of how people procured, prepared, presented and consumed food in prehistoric times.

    • Highlights the archaeological record of human diet and food culture, showing how cutting-edge science has vastly increased our knowledge over the last few decades
    • Acknowledges that evolutionary history, social learning and innovation by individuals must all be a part of a complete understanding of human diet and foodways
    • Asks what we can learn today from the diet and culture of prehistoric people
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is fine popular science, with none of the excesses that accompany other similar efforts to explore human diet.' Jeremy Cherfas, Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog (

    'The author's comfort with a wide variety of biological (botanical and zoological), anthropological, and archaeological evidence is apparent, and her ready grasp of the material allows the work to flow fluidly.' William Pestle, American Anthroplogist

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2011
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521727075
    • length: 198 pages
    • dimensions: 226 x 150 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.28kg
    • contains: 9 b/w illus. 2 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Ancestors
    2. Beginnings
    3. Foraging
    4. Farmers
    5. Hunger
    6. Abundance
    7. Contacts
    8. Extinctions
    9. Final thoughts.

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • Anthropology of Food
    • Archaeology of Animals
    • Eating Cultures: Anthropology of Food
    • Food & Culture
    • Food and Feasting: Archaeology of the Table
    • Food and Human Evolution
    • Foragers, Farmers, Feasts, Famine
    • Method and Theory in Archaeology
  • Author

    Kristen J. Gremillion, Ohio State University
    Kristen J. Gremillion is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Ohio State University. She has published many articles on human dietary variability in journals including American Antiquity, Current Anthropology and the Journal of Archaeological Science as well as several edited volumes.

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