Conflict and Consumption: Foodways, Practice, and Identity at New Kingdom Jaffa
During the Late Bronze Age (c. 1640/1540 – 1100 BCE), the installation of Egyptian garrisons throughout the southern Levant made Egypto-Levantine interaction the primary discursive relationship defining cultural expression in the region. To date, focus has predominantly been on how elites navigated the new imperial system, a product of the types of data published by early modern excavations. To expand upon this past work and assess Egypto-Levantine interaction across a broader socio-economic spectrum, I utilize new data from the garrison site of Jaffa (modern Israel) in a practice-based analysis of garrison foodways. From archaeobotanical and ceramics data, I demonstrate human entanglements that occurred at the site over the course of more than three centuries of occupation, discussing how interaction unfolded on a day-to-day basis in the imperial periphery. Specifically, I articulate the presence of multiple communities of practice with roots in both Egyptian and Levantine modes of doing. At no point in the history of the site did one tradition dominate, but rather garrison foodways were a complex product of acceptance, accommodation, indifference, and rejection, resulting in a hybrid foodways inseparable from the colonial system. The greater part of food preparation was purely Levantine in character, likely signifying the entanglement of the local population in the sustenance of the colonial system. And yet, certain modifications to traditional Levantine foodways seem designed to accommodate Egyptian tastes. Other elements of foodways—namely ceramics production/consumption and beer production—attest to a complex cha�ne op�ratoire with roots in Egypt, with their expression suggesting a tension between top-down forces provisioning the garrison and local, bottom-up consumption practices. This especially manifests with dining practices, as shifting patterns in the use and appreciation of locally manufactured Egyptian-style or Levantine ceramics correlate with violent disruptions at the site. While it is not always possible to tie foodways to specific identities, they reveal a complex picture of mutual transformation that cannot be separated from the colonial context of the site, detailing entanglements between locals and imperial personnel wherein actors from all sides episodically drew upon foodways to navigate life in an unstable imperial periphery.