Book Series Subartu, vol. 43

After the Harvest

Storage Practices and Food Processing in Bronze Age Mesopotamia

Noemi Borrelli, Giulia Scazzosi (eds)

  • Pages: xii + 146 p.
  • Size:216 x 280 mm
  • Illustrations:53 b/w, 14 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2020

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-58378-5
  • Paperback
  • Available

After the Harvest explores how grain and its by-products - bread and beer - defined multiple aspects of the Mesopotamian society and economy. The volume examines dynamics of food storage and food processing, using different field of analysis, comparing diverse methodologies and integrating datasets.


“Den Autoren und Autorinnen ist für ihre informative und solide Arbeit zu danken und man darf ihren weiteren Arbeiten mit großem Interesse entgegensehen.” Aron Dornauer, in Orientalistische Literaturzeitung, 116/6, 2021, (p. 452)

“Il pregio del volume, e dei contributi in esso raccolti, è sicuramente l’attento utilizzo delle fonti a disposizione, siano esse di natura archeologica, storica, epigrafica o antropologica, in un dialogo interdisciplinare particolarmente fruttuoso che permette di indagare i principali aspetti di natura socioeconomica e culturale connessi allo sfruttamento e alla gestione del raccolto e di tutti i prodotti da esso derivati.” (Jacopo Bruno, in Mesopotamia, LVI, 2021, p. 209-210)

“Scazzosi is right: this is a sociological question which must be discussed – and the evidence is both philological and archaeological. If the philologists complain that that the archaeologists are breaking off, then they have only themselves to blame. But we have to come together to discuss questions like this – as Scazzosi and I insist. And this wonderful volume demonstrates.” (David A. Warburton, in Bibliotheca Orientalis LXXX 1/2, 2023, p.183)


Noemi Borrelli is a postdoctoral fellow in Assyriology at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” (Italy). She is currently working on a book about the agricultural management in the Neo-Sumerian province of Lagaš. 

Giulia Scazzosi got her PhD at the University of Pavia (Italy) with a thesis on food production in 3rd and 2nd millennium BC Mesopotamia. She is currently working for the University of Bologna as the EDUU Project Coordination Team Member.


The reliance on grain and grain products is a key feature of many past societies, and this is particularly true of the Ancient Near East. The necessity of storing and processing foodstuffs encompassed political and social boundaries: food shaped identities and it was not by chance that, for the Mesopotamian mindset, civilization started with the consumption of bread and beer. At any managerial level, storage practices and food processing reflect the economic organization of a society, its control mechanisms, and its interdependent social structures. This volume includes eight papers by scholars of the Ancient Near East, who draw on a wide range of sources and methodologies, from (bio-)archaeological evidence to cuneiform texts, in order to explore what actually happened after the harvest in the shared horizon of Bronze Age Mesopotamia. The different case-studies gathered together here examine the impact of continuity — and crucially, of change — in the technical, economic, and social solutions that were adopted by people in response to the common needs of everyday life. This volume represents a dialogue between different perspectives and disciplines that simultaneously opens up new paths of research, at the same time as seeking to narrow the gaps in our understanding of this subject.


Noemi Borrelli & Giulia Scazzosi, After the Harvest: An Introduction

Klaus Wagensonner, Food: Its Gathering, Storing, and Consumption According to the Early Textual Record

Alexander Pruß, Grain Storage and Grain Distribution at Tell Beydar

Armando Bramanti, Before the Harvest? Land-grain Accounts in Early Dynastic Umma

Noemi Borrelli, Institutional Grain Storage and Control Network in the Ur III Province of Ĝirsu/Lagaš

Tate Paulette, Archaeological Perspectives on Beer in Mesopotamia: Brewing Ingredients

Melania Zingarello, Beer-making and Drinking Between Life and Death: A Fresh Look at the ‘Four-Part Sets’

Arkadiusz Sołtysiak, Bioarchaeology of Food Production in Ancient Mesopotamia

Giulia Scazzosi, ‘Eat the Bread, Enkidu’: The Role of Bakeries in Late Third to Early Second Millennium BC Mesopotamia