Neolithic Dinner Parties/or Cavemen Part 2

While preparing for a dinner party I hosted this past weekend, I thought back to an article I read recently that Neolithic people (the time when we were transitioning from caveman-solitary living to agriculture-community living) were just starting to share meals with neighbors, friends, extended families. Apparently a couple of professors found evidence of a meal of 71 turtle shells, and bones from 3 wild cows in a cave in Northern Israel from 12,000 years ago. (I tell my kids all the time to pick up after themselves; can you imagine that Neolithic mother now, turning over in shame in her cave-grave?)

Anyway, as I was preparing the sauce, made from my garden vegetables (I couldn’t get any turtles this late in the season), I wondered if the conversations, which spanned 12,000 years, were much different around the feast-tables. I had 13 guests; the estimate of the Neolithic feast was 35 attendees, but surely politics, competition, family, the food itself, were the common denominators of dialogue. With cocktails and red wine flowing here, I imagined the fermented wild berry juice loosening up the tongues of the young upstart-farmers and tool makers, bragging of the early arrow head-making contests, while we here discussed the dominance of our fantasy football teams.

There really isn’t much that separates us besides time and the ability to write it all down. I can’t imagine after preparing such a meal of turtles and cattle that the hostess thought, “Gee I need to sit down and write about this feast and Prodek’s bad behavior.” My guess is that she asked her kids to clean up, knowing they wouldn’t, and went to her cave for a long night’s sleep.

Just Thinkin’


Article from The Hartford Courant by Janice Podsada

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4 Responses to Neolithic Dinner Parties/or Cavemen Part 2

  1. Deborah says:

    I love this. You are really sharpening your writing senses, Sally.

  2. joan chandler says:

    I remember referring (lovingly & in jest) to my teenagers as Neanderthals. Their rooms were littered with the bones of their era – basketball uniforms and equipment, old homework, books and notebooks, clean and dirty clothes nicely mixed; and they grunted their responses. Now, when they, or other family members, including me, prattle on and on about a topic, I remind them and myself of what Hugh Downs used to say: “Pretend that what you are saying has to, instead, be inscribed on a piece of stone as the cavemen did. That will make you choose only the important words.” So the connections to our forbears -the ones of tens of thousands of years ago – continue. The thought of sitting around a campfire (“Wo, Og, look at that!”) and eating barbecued beef is still exciting.

  3. Bill Jackson says:

    Entertaining piece, but I’m not sure why you think that group feasts didn’t commonly occur before neolithic agriculture. The native north americans on British Columbia’s west coast held large potlatches as a way of distributing goods and gaining prestige, and their technology was stone age.

    You might want to extend your insight about the commonality of peoples to include the hunter-gatherers.

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