Interrogating "Property" at Neolithic Çatalhöyük

Author(s): Rosemary Joyce

Year: 2015


Neolithic Çatalhöyük poses an interpretative challenge: while there is evident distinction among houses in elaboration, concentration of mortuary remains, and generational persistence, this did not translate into the kinds of material advantages that can be discerned as dietary privilege or preferential mortuary treatment. This has led to the characterization of the people of the site as "fiercely egalitarian". In this paper, I reconsider the established facts from the perspective of the ethnographic analysis of living societies on which the social model of the "house", used to understand Çatalhöyük, is based. Materially visible inequality is not always present in ethnographically, or else is blurred by processes such as distributed curation and use of materials by people other than their acknowledged owners. This leads to a reconsideration of what kinds of "property" can distinguish the estate of a house, with particular attention to what was labeled "immaterial property" in the initial definition of house societies. Economic stratification can be independent of hierarchies of status, prestige, or ritual power. I report on an investigation of one way that one form of immaterial property might be reflected archaeologically: through control of knowledge, or even authorization to produce, craft goods, specifically, pottery vessels.

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Cite this Record

Interrogating "Property" at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. Rosemary Joyce. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395685)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;