Afterlife Snacks and Air Toads

I’m sitting here watching a crow hide food in the gutter of the roof I can see outside my window. Normally crows are quite bright, but I’m not sure about this one. The seagulls will steal his snacks as soon as he leaves.

If you haven’t guessed by the title, snacks are what brought me here today. I ran across a fascinating article looking at MBA burials in Jerusalem (New Insights into Middle Bronze Age Burial Customs in Light of Recent Excavations at the Manahִ at Spur (Jerusalem)). Tomb 7 is the one that caught my eye. It’s a burial chamber containing the remains of one adult human and a lot of animal bones. The larger bones are caprine (sheep and goats can be difficult to differentiate, but it looks like the faunal expert is leaning towards sheep). Judging by the amounts of lefts and rights, it’s probably one animal, but interestingly, it might have been butchered, given it seems to be divided between multiple baskets.

There’s also a jar that was split lengthwise before being placed in the tomb. Archaeologists found microfaunal remains (itty bitty animal bones) in the jar and subsequent analysis identified these as belonging to a minimum of nine green toads. While they acknowledge that it is possible for the toads to have hidden out in the tomb to cool off, there is a distinct absence of crania. They were headless toads and they were entirely contained in the half-jar. There are no toad bones on the floor of the tomb. This isn’t the first example of MBA funerary toads, so really, it seems likely that these tasty snacks were included as part of the funerary rituals. Food for the dead.

So… how is this Gloranthan? First, it seems highly likely to me that people bring food offerings to the dead on a regular basis, especially at the Necropolis and other Esrolian Necropolae. Second, I have happy memories of watching Berra gleefully draw Air Toads for Austin Conrad’s MotM issue #11. And all of a sudden, my brain leapt (pun totally intended) to imagining trying to catch and bottle air toads for that one demanding ancestor who won’t settle for anything less. Oh… the mess it would make! Think of the size of jar you’d need and you have to get them in before they explode or you’ll be collecting bits for the ancestor instead of complete toads. Why does this idea make me so happy?

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