Skull Removal and Mediation of Personhood over the Forager-Farmer Transition

Author(s): Ian Kuijt

Year: 2016


The transition from forager-collectors to small-scale agricultural communities, in the case of southern Levant the Natufian to Pre-Pottery Neolithic periods, is widely viewed by researchers as a critical evolutionary threshold, one that both sees the development of new economic realities, and at the same time, long-term continuity in select ritual practices.

Numerous studies have put forth functional and symbolic interpretations for the existence of skull removal in specific ethnographic, temporal or geographical case studies, often through the interpretive lens of ancestor worship, community integration, or human conflict and trophy taking. Researchers have yet, however, to critically examine aspects of these arguments or to put forth broader modelling of the long-term development, maintained, and expansion of the social practice of skull removal and modification through the Near Eastern forager-farmer transition. Drawing upon ethnographic and archaeological data this presentation develops a comparative long-term perspective on human skull removal and modification, and considers how identity and personhood may have been linked to and symbolized by the human skull and face.

Cite this Record

Skull Removal and Mediation of Personhood over the Forager-Farmer Transition. Ian Kuijt. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 403815)


Geographic Keywords
West Asia

Spatial Coverage

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