Community and Agency in the early Neolithic of SW Asia

Author(s): Bill Finlayson

Year: 2015


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 factors, such as climate change or demographic pressure. More recently a rise in symbolic behavior or even a cognitive revolution have become perceived as prime movers, although both are invoked as a response to life in larger communities. To understand the role of human agency in these processes, we have to consider the nature of society, how communities were constructed, and how agency operated. We know of no recent autochthonous transition from hunting and gathering to farming: the early Neolithic of SW Asia is essentially non-analogous. We have to study society though architecture and settlement configuration. Recent work has indicated that individual identity was less important than community identity, and that group agency may be an appropriate starting point for our study.

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Cite this Record

Community and Agency in the early Neolithic of SW Asia. Bill Finlayson. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397257)


Agency Neolithic

Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 25.225; min lat: 15.115 ; max long: 66.709; max lat: 45.583 ;