Pig Taboos in the Ancient near East

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International Journal of Humanities and Social Science (IJHSS) is an open access, peer-reviewed and refereed journal published by Center for Promoting Ideas (CPI), USA.

At the time of writing Koot Van Wyk was affiliated with Avondale College as a Conjoint Lecturer.


The cardinal study on the topic of pig eating in the Ancient Near East, is the work of Billie Jean Collins (2006). She focused basically on the issue as it relates to the Hittite cuneiform texts but did also probe sideways to other nations and the Bible, albeit minor comments. This study wishes to stand on the shoulders of Collins, adjusting some statements, adding other aspects from Archaeological sites and Gerhard Hasel’s explanation of Clean and Unclean in Leviticus 11. What was found in this presentation, is that chronology as backbone in the Scriptures, if taken seriously, could explain the presence or absence of pig eating practices also among the Hittites and Egyptians (the New Kingdom).

This research has investigated Collins’ contribution of Hittites and Pig Consumption, Pigs in Hittite archaeology, Pigs in Egypt, Pigs in Mesopotamia, Pigs in Zoo-archaeology at Hesban in Transjordan, Pigs at Sites in Canaan, Pigs as Offerings in Hittite Rituals, Pig Taboo Rules in the Ancient Near East, Pigs as Medical Use in Mesopotamia, Pig Taboo in the Old Testament by Ackerman (1992) and Collins (2006), Pig Taboo among Later Greeks, Pig Taboo in the Old Testament by Gerhard Hasel (1991,1994).

Whereas the other Nations around Israel display an S-curve or down-trend and up-trend in the appearance and disappearance of evidence for the taboo against pig-eating, among the Israelites it was a straight line unchanged. For that matter, the sojourn in Egypt, the Exodus from Egypt, the presence in Assyria, the presence in Babylonia or Egypt later during the exiles and Persian periods, should be taken into consideration for observations from cuneiform texts, from papyri or pyramid texts or from the travel descriptions of Herodotus. The biblical reality of Israelites living in these domains under consideration and the evidence or absence of taboos against pig-eating from the same areas and times, necessitate re-evaluations of the data.

pig eating, old testament

van Wyk, K. (2014). Pig taboos in the ancient near east. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4(13), 111-134. Retrieved from http://www.ijhssnet.com/

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