CULT - Métamorphoses des sociétés. Emergences et évolutions des cultures et des phénomènes culturels.

People, pottery and food in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean – POMEDOR

People, pottery and food in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean

The aim of the POMEDOR project is to explore and develop multidisciplinary approaches to food and foodways in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean, involving historical, archaeological and archaeometric research, and using study-cases from Cyprus , the Levantine coast, Turkey and Greece.

Food and foodways in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean, a promising field of research

Within the fast expanding area of research on food and foodways, the medieval Eastern Mediterranean is still very much an unexplored area, but one whose great potential is further enhanced by recent advances in archaeological and archaeometric studies. The aim of our project is to explore and develop this new field using an interdisciplinary historical, archaeological and archaeometric approach. <br />Of particular interest is the evolution of dietary practices in contexts related to the arrival of new populations with different cultural identities (Muslim and Seljuk conquests, Crusades). The medieval Eastern Mediterranean saw encounters between various communities: Muslim, Byzantine, Latin, Turkish and more. Various aspects of these encounters, predominantly conflicts and economic exchange, have been studied by historians, but very little has so far been undertaken regarding cohabitation and cultural interactions. Food is seen as a particularly significant factor in understanding such relationships, not only as a marker of social and cultural identities, but also as a possible interaction point. <br />Using case studies from Cyprus, the Levantine coast, Turkey and Greece, we will try to correlate various types of data within a framework of diachronic and synchronic approaches, and to identify significant associations of cultural markers. We examine not only products that were in use, but also the way they were processed and consumed, and we consider them in their broader archaeological and historical context. The integrated study of the various aspects of food and foodways will provide an insight into the different “culinary cultures”, their diffusion and the dynamics of this process. <br />An important aspect is to bring together experts from different disciplines that will work together on various aspects of food and foodways and their relation to cultural identity, establishing a scientific community that will lay the foundation for long-term collaborative research.

We investigate the evolution of food procurement, processing and consumption using historical sources, as well as archaeological and archaeometric studies of different categories of pottery, covering all aspects of food and foodways, from transport amphorae, to storage containers, processing and cooking vessels and serving dishes. We examine changes in the pottery repertoire of archaeological contexts whose date and nature of occupation are known; changes in food products through analyses of organic residues; adaptation of pottery production to new uses and fashions through analyses of raw materials and manufacturing techniques.
The results will eventually be synthesized in a broader context which will also include available results of archaeozoological, archaeobotanical and bioarchaeological studies, thanks to the constitution of the POMEDOR network, involving experienced researchers and students contributing different specialties to the understanding of food and foodways in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean. The creation of the POMEDOR collaborative platform aims to stimulate and ease such exchanges.

Results will be disseminated to both the academic community and the general audience. As the project moves forward the results will be presented and published, a final end-of-program meeting will bring together the different contributions and propose guidelines for future research. The project will also contribute to at least two databases specializing in ceramics studies, the international “Levantine ceramics database”, and the Lyon database of chemical data which will develop a public interface on this occasion.
Initiatives directed towards the general public will include two events, a culinary event proposed by a French chef and the preparation of an exhibition at the “Cité de la Céramique” in Sèvres. The latter will present, through the medium of food-related archaeological objects, the meeting of medieval Muslim, Byzantine, European and Turkish cultures, and will propose a resonance in today’s meeting of communities and cultures through the medium of food.

Perspectives for future research, in the framework of a larger project (e.g. European framework), will be proposed during the final colloquium. This project will make use of the POMEDOR network and its online collaborative platform, which is designed to enable further activities once the present project comes to conclusion.
The emergence and dynamics of a scientific community working on food and foodways in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean also depends on the development of the different disciplines involved, and especially of medieval archaeology in the region. This dimension, and its implications in terms of education, should be taken into account in the next project.

The project will produce papers in international refereed journals or acta of conferences. The final meeting will be the opportunity to publish case studies and syntheses in the global framework of the programme.
The results will also be diffused on

Within the fast expanding area of research on food and foodways, the medieval Eastern Mediterranean is still very much an unexplored area, but one whose great potential is further enhanced by recent advances in archaeological and archaeometric studies. The aim of our project is to explore and develop this new field using an interdisciplinary historical, archaeological and archaeometric approach.

The proposed study will investigate the evolution of dietary practices in contexts related to the arrival of new populations with different cultural identities (Muslim and Seljuk conquests, Crusades). The medieval Eastern Mediterranean saw encounters between various communities: Muslim, Byzantine, Latin, Turkish and others. Various aspects of these encounters, predominantly conflicts and economic exchanges, have been studied by historians, but very little has so far been undertaken regarding cohabitation and cultural interactions. Food is seen as a particularly significant factor in understanding such relationships, not only as a marker of social and cultural identities, but also as a possible interaction point. In addition, the potential role of pottery in the study of food and foodways is being increasingly acknowledged.

We will investigate the evolution of food procurement, processing and consumption using both historical sources, and archaeological and archaeometric studies of different categories of pottery, from transport amphorae to serving dishes, though preparation recipients and cooking wares. Using case studies from Cyprus, the Levantine coast, Turkey and Greece, we will try to connect data of different kinds within a framework of diachronic and synchronic approaches. Changes in pottery repertoire in archaeological contexts with known dating and nature of occupation, changes in food products as seen by analyses of organic residues, adaptation of pottery production to new uses and fashions as shown by analyses of raw materials and techniques of manufacture, will be looked at in a broader context. Syntheses will also include available results of archaeozoological, archaeobotanical, bioarchaeological ... studies, thanks to the constitution of the POMEDOR network, involving experienced researchers and students contributing different specialties to the understanding of food and foodways in the medieval Eastern Mediterranean.

Initiatives directed towards the general public will include two events, a culinary event proposed by a French chef and the preparation of an exhibition at the “Cité de la Céramique” in Sèvres. The latter will present, with the help of food-related archaeological objects, the meeting of medieval Muslim, Byzantine, European and Turkish cultures, and will propose a resonance in today’s meeting of communities and cultures through the medium of food.

Project coordinator

Madame Sylvie Yona Waksman (Archéométrie et Archéologie : origine, datation et technologie des matériaux) – yona.waksman@mom.fr

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

CNRS UMR 5138 Archéométrie et Archéologie : origine, datation et technologie des matériaux

Help of the ANR 400,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2013 - 36 Months

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