Exploring social change in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

The Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic saw some groups of mobile hunter-gatherers become increasingly sedentary, cohabiting in larger, more stable groups and increasingly elaborate material environments. This change had significant implications not only for economies and environments at the time, but also for the social relationships between the people living in these earliest villages and between groups now 'fixed' in specific parts of the landscape. However, the nature and indeed even existence of social groupings at the time – household, social group ('village') or broader 'cultures' – remains contentious, as individual and group identities seem unlikely to have been static, clearly defined or internally homogeneous. Questions about social relations remain some of the most difficult to answer using archaeological data, and the potentially non-analogue nature of social identities and groupings is a further stumbling block to research in the area. This session will thus the breadth of archaeological proxies, methods and concepts that can be used to investigate social relations among people during this period of dramatic social change.

Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-5 of 5)

  • Documents (5)

  • Community and Agency in the early Neolithic of SW Asia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Bill Finlayson.

    The accepted Neolithic narrative involves increasingly sedentary behavior within a context of villages composed of houses. Yet, although the novel way of life represented is given centre stage, there is little discussion of the nature of the communities that were developing, other than passing references to nuclear families, ancestor cults and the emergence of lineages and households. There is still less reference to human agency, with Neolithic people being buffeted around by a number of big...

  • An Integrated phytolith and geochemical approach to understanding activity areas and the choice of building materials in Neolithic sites using ethnographic analysis. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Emma Jenkins. Carol Palmer. John Grattan. Samantha Allcock. Sarah Elliott.

    The Neolithic in southwest Asia is an important period in human history which saw the advent of sedentism, agriculture, and ultimately the rise of complex societies. It is also, however, one of the most poorly understood. This is partly due to problems associated with site recognition and partly because of the lack of preservation of many forms of evidence, particularly biological. As a result, many Neolithic sites are comprised of a series of structures, the construction and function of which...

  • (Re)Constructing and Using Space in the Epipalaeolithic: Exploring Technologies, Domestic Activities and Communal Living in Eastern Jordan (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa Maher. Tobias Richter. Danielle Macdonald.

    In the 10,000 or so years that make up the Epipalaeolithic period, we witness several dramatic social, economic and technological changes documented in the archaeological record, including the appearance of aggregation sites and sedentary villages, intensified use of particular plants and animals, and the movements of people and objects over long distances. While it is easy to track these changes over this large time span, we rarely catch a glimpse of the daily activities and day-to-day...

  • Technological choice or environmental constraints? Fuel use at Boncuklu and Çatalhöyük (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Lisa-Marie Shillito.

    By combining sediment micromorphology with microbotanical and geochemical analysis, we can gain insights into the archaeological record that are otherwise invisible. By characterising fuel deposits as a package of remains rather than focusing on a single class of material (including charcoal, ash, burnt sediments and associated artefacts) we are better able to reconstruct their formation processes, and thus the activities that produced them. Using examples from the early Neolithic settlements of...

  • Using networks to investigate material identities in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East. (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Fiona Coward.

    This paper will illustrate the potential of methods derived from network science and especially social network analysis can be used to investigate the social interactions and relationships within and between the earliest village sites in the Near East across the shift from a mobile hunting-and-gathering way of life to a more sedentary, village-based and ultimately agricultural lifestyles. This approach provides a new perspective on the question of social change at the time as it views social...