Ancient Banquets

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Banquets in Ancient Cultures: Mesopotamia and Egypt
Celebrating events over a table of food is a common occurrence in today’s culture. Food and dining were also ways of celebration practiced in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Both cultures practiced the art of banqueting for many of the same events, but also on many different occasions. The food at these banquets, however, was very similar in both early cultures.

Food is perhaps the most important aspect at any banquet. In Ancient Mesopotamia, all of the city or city-states most elaborate food was brought to a banquet. For one of the biggest feasts recorded in Mesopotamia, the Ten Day Feast, an ornate variety of cattle, wild game, fish, birds, vegetables, fruits, spices, grains, and dairy products were brought for the occasion (World Eras. 2005. 230-231). Likewise, in Ancient Egypt, the most sophisticated and expensive food was served for banquets. Food such as ox, fowl, rich stews, bread, veggies, and cakes were dished up for the Egyptian banquet events (World Eras. 2002. 159-161).

Another parallel between Mesopotamian and Egyptian banquets was one of the events in which a banquet would be held; a funeral. Ancient Egypt held banquets during the Festival of the Valley in family tombs in order to honor their deceased loved ones (World Eras. 2002. 159-161). It is believed that in Ancient Mesopotamia the idea of a ‘funeral banquet’ was directly derived from the banquets correspondingly held in Egypt (World Eras. 2005. 230-231).

Though death was a similar event in which a banquet would be held, both cultures hosted banquets for a variety of different occasions. In Ancient Mesopotamia, banquets were held by rulers as celebrations of military victories and successful hunts. One of the biggest banquets of Mesopotamia was the Ten Day Feast held by the Assyrian King Ashumasir-pal II to celebrate the opening of his palace and gardens (World Eras. 2002. 159-161). On the contrary, Ancient Egyptian...
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