The doctoral research of Carolin Jauß is studying culinary practice in the context of societal change at the time of early urban and state development in southern Mesopotamia and southwest Iran (5000–3000 BCE). The focus is on the analysis of pottery vessels as instruments for food preparation and consumption.


Using a practice-oriented approach, this project aims at building a bridge between material culture, gestures, actions, and people; consequently investigating the functional and social dimensions of commensal practices. It looks at the interrelations between food preparation and consumption and at the relationships between commensal practice concerning the domestic and the institutional in everyday life and in special events and religious rituals.

Cooking experiment with replica vessel, Foto: Carolin Jauss

Cooking experiment with replica vessel

Ceramic vessels are analysed with regarding their functional properties and use wear traces to infer on food preparation techniques and ways of food consumption with respect to social settings of consumption and kinds of foods consumed. The research will establish a framework for the analysis of use alteration on pottery from ancient western Asia. Experimental work with replica vessels is conducted in order to learn how use wear traces on vessels that were used in connection with fire can be related to cooking techniques. Organic residues that are preserved in pottery walls are analysed as direct evidence for commodities that were processed or stored in pottery vessels using state-of-the-art chromatographic techniques (HTGC, GC-MS and GC-C-IRMS).

The results of the pottery analysis are contextualised with information on spatial locations of food preparation and consumption as well as iconographic data and information from texts, mainly concerning the economic relevance of processed food products. The data will be interpreted with respect to information on culinary activities and their relevance for the subjectivities of practitioners and for social and economic implications for communities on the micro level as well as for the interplay of culinary practice and broader societal developments on the macro level.

The doctoral research of Carolin Jauß is part of the project Commensality and Shared Space in the Context of Early State and Urban Development in Mesopotamia and Southwest Iran.