Working for a Feast: Textual Evidence for State-Organized Work Feasts in Mycenaean Greece

Working for a Feast:
Textual Evidence for State
Organized Work Feasts
in Mycenaean Greece

(Δουλεύοντας για μια γιορτή:
Αποδεικτικά στοιχεία από κείμενα
για τις δημόσιες οργανωμένες εορτές
στην μυκηναϊκή Ελλάδα)

By Jörg Weilhartner

Communal feasting has provoked much interest among scholars of Aegean prehistory. Discussions of the archaeological, archaeozoological, and textual data of the Mycenaean Palatial period have provided important insights into the role of this ritual practice as part of a sociopolitical strategy of the Mycenaean elite. In the course of these discussions, an increasing number of Linear B documents have been viewed as recording provisions of animals and mixed foodstuffs for state-organized banqueting. The interpretation of other records along similar lines, however, is a highly disputed matter. For example, some scholars view the Fn tablets from Pylos as lists of allocations of barley to the participants of religious feasts. Others, however, regard most of the tablets of this series as purely secular in character and consider them as allocations of grain to “industrial” workers. If one views the recipients listed in these records as attendants not of religious feasts but of secular work feasts (containing some religious elements), much of the contradiction disappears. In addition, this interpretation, which allows for the juxtaposition of predominantly secular features and a few religious aspects as well as for the large number of occupational designations, may also apply to texts from Mycenae and Thebes that have been the focus of much discussion.

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