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date: 06 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Images, texts, and bones shed light on the place of animals in the later Bronze Age societies of southern Greece. Iconography offers an idealized vision of encounters with dangerous, exotic, and mythical beasts, of travel in elaborate horse-drawn chariots, and of ceremonial slaughter of bulls. Reality, even for the elite and as revealed by textual and faunal evidence, was more mundane: killing and consumption of sheep, goats, and pigs more than lions, deer, and bulls; and dependence, to finance a palatial lifestyle, on draught oxen for grain production and wool-sheep for exchangeable prestige textiles. Linear B texts describe aspects of animal management of interest to the Mycenaean palaces, while faunal data make clear how restricted were these interests. Faunal and ceramic data highlight the importance of commensality throughout the Neolithic and Bronze Age, and the shift from overtly egalitarian gatherings in the Neolithic to ostentatiously inegalitarian in the Bronze Age.

Keywords: Bronze Age, draught cattle, feast(ing), Greece, hunting, sacrifice, wool

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