The Lesser Beasts? Human-pig relationships in Late Bronze Age Anatolia

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The early state societies in Late Bronze Age (LBA; 1600-1200 BC) Anatolia met the demands of growing populations and rising elite classes through large-scale sheep, goat and cattle husbandry. These economic systems allowed wealth accumulation and produced large amounts of animal products for economic and symbolic uses. Pigs, however, were only marginally incorporated into these economies. In this paper, we explore the role of pigs across published zooarchaeological assemblages and texts across LBA Anatolia. In likeness to LBA Mesopotamia, the scarcity of pig bones in Hittite zooarchaeological assemblages suggests pig husbandry was marginally practiced, suggesting pork consumption was limited, or even avoided. Hittite texts, however, do mirror administrative concerns regarding pigs in urban and rural environments, and display various social connotations, economic and ritual uses for pigs. Across the eastern and western borders of the Hittite empire, pig husbandry was more widely practiced, and likewise diverse. These dynamic roles of pigs imply that pork consumption alone does not sufficiently explain all aspects of human-pig relationships. Instead, combining zooarchaeological and textual evidence reveals a multiplicity of human-pig relationships in Late Bronze Age Anatolia.


ConferenceWorkshop "Historical Questions - Zooarchaeological Answers"
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  • Pig husbandry, Late Bronze Age, Anatolia, Hittites


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