Session: #525

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Of the Water: Fish and Molluscs in the Ancient Eastern Mediterranean
This session will examine the role of fish and molluscs in everyday life as well as in terms of their impact on social structures, and as part of ideological and symbolic expression. Given the prevalence of and dependence on water in various forms in all regions of the eastern Mediterranean, it is no wonder that fish and other aquatic species made an impact on human lives, yet this topic remains rather understudied. With this session, we would like to explore questions related to fishing practices and technologies, social status, human-fish/mollusc relations (also any potential over-exploitation), and fish/molluscs in ritual practices (e.g. as temple offerings, festival consumption, burial offerings), and ideology and religion (e.g. associated with supernatural beings or sacred space, as hybrid creatures, and as represented in luxury goods). Another set of questions would revolve around aquatic species as a non-alimentary resource, for example for jewellery, inlays, dyeing and medicinal purposes. Material under investigation can include faunal remains (worked and unworked), fishing gear and related tools, iconography and, where available, written sources. We particularly encourage papers that integrate multiple lines of evidence. The geographical area included here is the eastern Mediterranean broadly defined: papers using material from the Aegean, Cyprus, Anatolia, Levant, Mesopotamia and Egypt of any time period are welcome.
fish, Eastern Mediterranean, water, human-environment relations
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
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Main organiser:
Christina Tsouparopoulou (United Kingdom) 1,2
Laerke Recht (Austria) 3
1. University of Cambridge
2. Polish Academy of Sciences
3. University of Graz