The Faculty of Archaeology at the University of Warsaw will organize the lecture by Professor Ian Kuijt (Dept of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame) titled “Social abstraction, egalitarianism, and Pre-Pottery Neolithic communities: Reconsidering the evolution of the world’s first villages“. It is scheduled for 13th October, 11:30-13:00, room 212 in the building of the Faculty, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa. The lecture will be available also online; to receive the link please contact Aldona Mueller Bieniek (email@example.com).
Abstract: Archaeologists have largely failed to recognize and model the coexistence of Neolithic social differentiation and communalism within village social organization. Life within Neolithic villages required cooperation and shared goals, often structured around the need for collective labor in farming and building construction. Drawing upon a range of Neolithic settlements in the Near East, including but not limited to Çatalhöyük, ‘Ain Ghazal, Tell Halula, in this presentation I examine three aspects of early village life. First, I look at the development of communal, non-residential, buildings from around 9,500 to 7,700 Cal BC, and contrast this with what occurred between 7,700 and 6,500 Cal BC. Second, looking at the spatial organization of practices rather than frequency of mortuary goods, I consider several case studies within which Near Eastern mortuary practices illustrate the social abstraction of individuals, but within the context of shared practices. Third, I look at changing Neolithic food storage, considering issues of access and scale, and consider what this tells us about social inequality. Collectively, I argue that these patterns are consistent with the emergence of larger communal organizations, such as ritual sodalities using community structures, followed by a shift to household focused practices and the development of large aggregate villages. This understanding has important implications for how researchers model the evolution of world’s first villages, and challenges us to reassess our understanding of the emergence of household and community social networks.