Nicky Milner

in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Ritual and Religion

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199232444
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology


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The word taboo appears to get little attention in archaeological studies, perhaps because it is so very difficult to study. However, one area of taboo connected with religion and ritual which does have some potential for archaeological study, is that of food. Many cultures and religions have strict rules which prohibit the consumption of, usually, certain types of animal. This article first presents an important example, that of the prohibition of the pig, providing theories on its origins as well as interpretations as to why pig consumption taboos developed. Second, it uses a number of archaeological case studies to explore the ways in which such religious and ritual prohibitions may be identified in the archaeological record, and considers the problems involved in interpreting them.

Keywords: archaeological studies; religion; ritual; food; pig consumption; prohibitions; archaeological record

Article.  5390 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Historical Archaeology

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