Food was a major component of social gatherings in ancient Egypt. Luxurious banquets were commonplace for its citizens, particularly the rich. Not only did these banquets revolve around abundant scrumptious fare, but also lots of music and dancing. These events were generally held inside designated banquet halls.
Banquet Hall Set-Up
The set-up of a standard banquet hall in ancient Egypt included numerous circular tables. Guests at banquets sometimes sat directly on the ground, but short seats were common additions to banquet halls, as they encouraged relaxation. These chairs often covered bowls that enabled the guests to wash their hands easily. Party-givers -- and guests with higher social status -- sat in taller chairs. Copious amounts of food adorned the tables so well that their surfaces were barely visible. The food was typically arranged in platters and bowls produced of ceramic material such as faience, which was typically a greenish-blue color.
Triclinium Banquet Halls
Banquets were major components of funerals in ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians transported mummies to banquet halls called triclinia or triclinium inside catacombs. They did this as a means of helping the guests remember that they, too, would pass away someday. These spacious halls often featured columns and seating made out of stone. Mourners at funerals are thought to have enjoyed banquet meals on tables next to the seating. Friends and family members celebrated the lives of their loved ones during these funeral banquets.
Banquet halls in ancient Egypt were settings for more than good company, a special or serious occasion and plentiful delicious food. They also served as venues for entertainment, a prominent component of banquets. Banquet guests reveled in entertainment provided by acrobats, dancers, jugglers and vocalists. Music of all varieties completed the ambiance of these events, with musicians playing instruments such as drums and the harp. Entertainment was usually available to keep people happy as their feasts were still being prepared.
While the arrangement and set-up of banquet halls contributed to the festive and lively atmospheres, the meals were always the centerpieces. Foods that were frequently served at ancient Egyptian banquets include fruits, vegetables, bread, beef, goose and cheese. Meat was often roasted. As far as beverages went, white and red wines alike were common components of banquets. The richer the hosts, the more splendid was their menu.
Luxury Items at Banquets
Male and female servants were employed to work in the banquet halls to bring food to the tables. Their duties weren't restricted to that, however. They also provided the guests' tables with items such as special wines, perfumes and decorative wreaths made of flowers.
- Exploring Ancient Egypt; Ian Shaw
- How People Lived in Ancient Egypt; Jane Bingham
- The Spirit of Ancient Egypt; Ana Ruiz
- Ancient Egypt; Philip Steele
- The Pharaoh's Kitchen - Recipes from Ancient Egypt's Enduring Food Traditions; Magda Mehdawy, Amr Hussein
- Food in the Ancient World; Joan Pilsbury Alcock
- Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians; Bob Brier, A. Hoyt Hobbs
- The Corpse - A History; Christine Quigley
- The Oxford Handbook of Roman Egypt; Christina Riggs
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