Customer Reviews


4 Reviews
5 star:
 (3)
4 star:
 (1)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dinner at the Jones'?, 9 Sep 2007
By 
Stephen A. Haines (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Martin Jones is a bioarchaeologist - he nearly invented the discipline. In "The Molecule Hunt" he not only explained that rather cumbersome term; he demonstrated what a fabulous array of information about our ancestors and us this new science has revealed. In this work, he utilises that data and enlarges the view to examine human societies in their environmental contexts. An insightful and comprehensive account, Jones explains the roots of our mealtime habits, along with the steps we passed through in reaching them.

He notes at the outset that humans are unique in gathering around a cooking fire or other central location and feeding together facing their fellows. For any other species, eye contact is a threat display. With us, it's a form of group bonding that extends beyond kin relations. Jones enhances his science by providing a "fictional" account of what might have been the circumstances for living people to produce the evidence he and others have uncovered. Nor is he limited to just "humans", since Neanderthal and precursor species are included in the scenarios. His careful analytical techniques, admirably explained, put these scenes well above idle speculation. They bring a true sense of humanity to a science too often typified by pots and bones alone. Jones focusses on hearths and their surroundings, providing graphic illustrations of what foodstuffs were being consumed, how they were prepared and the environments that provided them. He contrasts many of the scenes as representing "endocuisine" - foods boiled, often indoors, with "exocuisine" - broiled foods at exterior cooking sites predominated by the male hunters.

The sites examined are many and varied. He takes us to Boxgrove, a half-million-year old site on England's south coast. Neanderthal life is examined at Capellades on the Iberian Peninsula when that species was still in its prime, yet to be challenged by the invasion of modern humans. Another British dig, Hambledon Hill, shows the world of Neolithic farmers, from the cycle of their feasts, to the way they related to the local environment. Hambledon Hill proved not a living area, but the domain of the dead, with great feasts set up for large assemblages of people who dispersed after the celebrations. The rise of agriculture led to hierarchical societies forming, with storage facilities drawing from a wide area. A great palace erected at Pylos had many dedicated rooms for food stocks. Each location provides many clues for those who know how to look for them.

Jones isn't limited to ancient peoples, however. He brings his narrative down the centuries. Human feeding practices introduced a major shift in how we deal with the environment. Among our earliest ancestors, following the tempos of Nature was fundamental to survival. Knowing where foodstuffs were at any given season forced a mobility that was abandoned at later times. As society became more hierarchical and complex due to agriculture, the tempos of Nature were replaced by human ones. "Nature was subjected to neat organisation within clear partitions of space" and culture introduced different complexities. Instead of natural cycles, new ones at the whims of gods were introduced. "Tempo" became annual instead of seasonal.

The result of these changes can be seen around us. Vast stretches of land are given over to crops or grazing animals. Instead of going to food, we bring it to us, and control of Nature in those areas is nearly total. A food web that once might have encompassed a few kilometres in extent is now global. The reach brings fish across oceans and specialty foods from distant continents. He uses the "coffee house" of 18th Century Europe to explain how new ideas and theories were exchanged over cups of exotic brews and led to new forms of government. The face-to-face contact of the participants made the process simple. In a jarring spasm of modernity, he offers a photo of the first McDonald's as a symbol of the global food web. He also notes how this web, and the supportive industries derived from it have created yet another form of social science - the "dump" archaeologist.

A treasure of fresh information and innovative thinking, this is a fascinating read throughout. The historical scenes are the least speculative of many of Jones' ideas, but he provides many questions that need further resolution. Take it up to learn some carefully reasoned notions supported by a wealth of evidence. It's a rewarding read at many levels. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feast, 30 Dec 2009
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Feast: Why Humans Share Food (Paperback)
I bought this book as it was recommended by my seminar leader and I'm glad I did! The module was concerned with diet and food and this book was a really helpful companion to understanding the context and the social significance of food consumption.Unlike other text books it was really easy to read and really interesting. It is written chronologically and starts in the Palaeolithic ending in the 1950's and written in an international context. Recommend this to anyone interested in food consumption and practices.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading, 16 Aug 2010
I couldn't put this book down once I started reading it. The author has a way of capturing the environment and placing the reader in the archeological sites he describes. The author provides both historical interpretation and a pleasurable account of life and food habits from primitive cultures through the more sophisticated cultures of Greece and later.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, literate archaeology, 7 Aug 2010
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Feast: Why Humans Share Food (Paperback)
This book does far more than tell the history of human eating. It uses eating as a vehicle for discussing not just the physical elements of being human but also the mental, social and emotional [not to say spiritual] aspects too, across several millennia. Quite wonderful.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Feast: Why Humans Share Food
Feast: Why Humans Share Food by Martin Jones (Paperback - 10 April 2008)
£13.33
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews