Taboo topics: exploring absences in the faunal remains from Çatalhöyük, Turkey

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  • Taboo topics: exploring absences in the faunal remains from Çatalhöyük, Turkey

Dublin Core

Title

Taboo topics: exploring absences in the faunal remains from Çatalhöyük, Turkey

Subject

S6-2, Grounding social zooarchaeology:
bringing methodology to bear on social questions, oral

Description

Abstract:

Ethnography shows us that every society has some form of food taboos, often focused on the meat of particular animals. While the pig taboo, in particular, has received considerable archaeological attention in the eastern Mediterranean, there is little discussion of taboo in prehistory. The obvious reason is that, lacking textual or direct ethnohistorical evidence, it is difficult to study absence. However, taboos are likely to have affected the composition of most zooarchaeological assemblages, so we cannot afford to ignore them. While specific beliefs cannot be applied from ethnography to deep prehistory, some of the structuring principles seen in ethnoarchaeological and ethnohistoric studies can help us to identify prehistoric animal taboos. I explore the patterning of the animal bone assemblage from Neolithic Çatalhöyük in terms of taxa, body part representation, and spatial distribution to argue for the existence of taboo practices. Taboos can take many forms: prohibiting all contact with an animal, proscribing the consumption of its meat, forbidding the meat to certain kinds of people or at certain times, and so on. At Çatalhöyük, there are traces of multiple types of taboo. It is likely that killing leopards, or at least bringing them to the site, was taboo for everyone. Bears may have been taboo to eat, but their skins and teeth were more freely allowed on site. Deer and boar may have been taboo to only some segments of the population.

Authors:

RUSSELL Nerissa

Affiliations

Cornell University, Dept. of Anthropology, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA; nr29@cornell.edu

Creator

Russell, Nerissa

Date

August 2010

Contribution Form

Online Submission

No

Document Item Type Metadata

Citation

Russell, Nerissa. "Taboo topics: exploring absences in the faunal remains from Çatalhöyük, Turkey," in BoneCommons, Item #1509, http://alexandriaarchive.org/bonecommons/items/show/1509 (accessed December 13, 2019).

License

Creative Commons License

File: S6-2_25-08_RUSSELL.ppt

File: Russell_Taboo_Topics.doc