Sacrificial Ritual and the Palace of Nestor: A Reanalysis of the Ta Tablets

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The Ta tablets are a series of Linear B documents from the Palace of Nestor at Pylos that inventory vessels, fire implements, slaughtering paraphernalia, and furniture. This article argues that all the equipment documented on the Ta tablets pertains to a single large-scale ritual cattle sacrifice and was not equipment for the banquet that would have followed the sacrifice. The argument is rooted in a reanalysis of the tables listed on the Ta tablets that concludes that they were used for the slaughter and butchery of sacrificial cattle. Discussion proceeds from there to the sacrificial ritual use of the other items listed on the Ta tablets. Finally, speculative conclusions are drawn about the political ceremony that employed these objects and a possible smaller event taking place within the larger ceremony. This study draws on a wide range of sources, including other materials found in the same archival room, relevant iconography, archaeological comparanda, experimental archaeology, and a study of comparative butchery techniques.

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