‘Sweet and Delicious, he who Tastes it will Go Back to it’: Food, Memory and Religion in the Roman Middle East

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This article aims to understand food habits in Roman-period temples in the Middle East by exploring the nexus of taste, architecture and memory. This article shows that there was a range of flavours and tastes associated with religious behaviour and some that were explicitly not associated with religion. Where the data allow, this article demonstrates that some food practices can survive in cultural memory and be brought back after a seeming break of several hundred years: a glimpse of habits that are hard to break. I argue that we need to look beyond the rooms with benches to the whole temple building to understand the interplay between the foods eaten and the setting in which that happened. One of the strongest habits seems to have been the selective and deliberate incorporation of food memories into the fabric of the buildings. While there are clear similarities in behaviour across a wide tranche of time and space, there are also idiosyncracies that echo the malleability of memory to reflect long-term habits, but also to be open to new introductions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalTheoretical Roman Archaeology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2018


  • Food
  • Memory
  • Religion
  • Middle East
  • Archaeology
  • Roman

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