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Pigs at the Gate: Hittite Pig Sacrifice in its Eastern Mediterranean Context

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The consumption of pork in Hittite Anatolia is unlikely to have been a simple matter of geography or ethnicity, but was governed by a complex set of principles involving determiners like status, gender, and the level of cultic influence from religious sanctuaries. On the few occasions that the Hittite texts refer directly to eating pork, the context is highly ritualized, suggesting that special religious significance was sometimes attached to the eating of pig's flesh. Further, drawing on evidence from the societies surrounding the Mediterranean basin, a case can be made for the private nature of pig sacrifice in Hittite Anatolia. They were killed to ensure the wellbeing of the community and the fertility of humans and crops. A festival performed in Istanuwa to reaffirm the human-divine relationship may parallel the practice of sacrificing a pig at the ratification of treaties in the classical world. Finally, this animal's unique place among the domesticates extends to its role as a substitute for humans, a ritual motif that can be found throughout the Mediterranean in antiquity.


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