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The Feast

  • Date iconMay 12 2023 - January 20 2024
  • Curator: Nurith Goshen
          Curator assistants: Shir Hoory, Debra Bernstein, Dafna Israel
  • Designer: Shirley Yahalomi
          Designer assistant: Netanel Dahan
  • Bella and Harry Wexner Gallery

The exhibition explores banquets, feasts, and food in the Ancient Near East in the 4th-1st millennium BCE, presenting them as the ideal setting for the negotiation of ideologies, and as a symbol of political and social status. Such festive events were employed by religious and royal institutions as a means to establish and reaffirm their political power, and consolidate the prevailing ideology. Elements of the feast, such as the sending of invitations, the financing of the event, the presentation of gifts, and aspects of inclusion and exclusion, which may at first appear trivial, are revealed in this exhibition to be potent tools in the hands of the initiators and organizers of the event.

This exhibition showcases selected archaeological artifacts, iconographic representations, organic materials, and textual evidence, from the Land of Israel and neighboring cultures, primarily from the Israel Museum’s own rich holdings. Through a lavish display of artifacts, The Feast highlights the social mechanisms that surrounded the communal consumption of food, offering visitors a sense of the motivations at play around the table in antiquity, and their reflection in contemporary culture.


Assemblage of bowls found in a central structure
Ramat Rachel, late 7th century BCE, pottery
Israel Antiquities Authority
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Eli Posner
Banquet scene on a cylinder seal depicting two seated figures drinking beer through tubes from a common vessel
Mesopotamia (Iraq), 24th–22nd century BCE, chert
Israel Antiquities Authority | 1965-84
Fragment of a dedicatory plaque
Susa (Iran) 28th–27th century BCE, limestone
The Louvre Museum, Paris | AS 7170
Photo © Musée du Louvre / Raphaël Chipault
Goblets in shape of human and animal heads
Tell Abu Hawam, 14th century BCE, faience
Israel Antiquities Authority
Photo © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem by Eli Posner
The Ballroom
Federico Solmi, 2016, five-channel video installation, 2 min.
Photo© Federico Solmi