Event: Friday Seminar: "Taboo topics: Exploring absences in the faunal remains from Çatalhöyük, Turkey"

Date & Time

May 19, 2017 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm

Contact Information

Matthew Swanson


Fowler A222

Event Type

Friday Seminar

Event Details

Speaker: Dr. Nerissa Russell, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Cornell University

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 argue that the patterning of the animal bone assemblage from Neolithic Çatalhöyük has been shaped by taboo practices. These taboos involve multiple taxa and take several forms.