cover of book

The Story of Food in the Human Past: How What We Ate Made Us Who We Are
by Robyn E. Cutright
University of Alabama Press, 2021
Cloth: 978-0-8173-2082-9 | Paper: 978-0-8173-5985-0 | eISBN: 978-0-8173-9338-0
Library of Congress Classification GN799.F6C87 2021
Dewey Decimal Classification 641.309012

A sweeping overview of how and what humans have eaten in their long history as a species
The Story of Food in the Human Past: How What We Ate Made Us Who We Are uses case studies from recent archaeological research to tell the story of food in human prehistory. Beginning with the earliest members of our genus, Robyn E. Cutright investigates the role of food in shaping who we are as humans during the emergence of modern Homo sapiens and through major transitions in human prehistory such as the development of agriculture and the emergence of complex societies.

This fascinating study begins with a discussion of how food shaped humans in evolutionary terms by examining what makes human eating unique, the use of fire to cook, and the origins of cuisine as culture and adaptation through the example of Neandertals. The second part of the book describes how cuisine was reshaped when humans domesticated plants and animals and examines how food expressed ancient social structures and identities such as gender, class, and ethnicity. Cutright shows how food took on special meaning in feasts and religious rituals and also pays attention to the daily preparation and consumption of food as central to human society.

Cutright synthesizes recent paleoanthropological and archaeological research on ancient diet and cuisine and complements her research on daily diet, culinary practice, and special-purpose mortuary and celebratory meals in the Andes with comparative case studies from around the world to offer readers a holistic view of what humans ate in the past and what that reveals about who we are.

Nearby on shelf for Anthropology / Prehistoric archaeology: