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The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East

Transforming the Human Landscape

Alan H. Simmons

Publication Year: 2011

One of humanity’s most important milestones was the transition from hunting and gathering to food production and permanent village life. This Neolithic Revolution first occurred in the Near East, changing the way humans interacted with their environment and each other, setting the stage, ultimately, for the modern world. Based on more than thirty years of fieldwork, this timely volume examines the Neolithic Revolution in the Levantine Near East and the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Alan H. Simmons explores recent research regarding the emergence of Neolithic populations, using both environmental and theoretical contexts, and incorporates specific case studies based on his own excavations. In clear and graceful prose, Simmons traces chronological and regional differences within this land of immense environmental contrasts—woodland, steppe, and desert. He argues that the Neolithic Revolution can be seen in a variety of economic, demographic, and social guises and that it lacked a single common stimulus. Each chapter includes sections on history, terminology, geographic range, specific domesticated species, the composition of early villages and households, and the development of social, symbolic, and religious behavior. Most chapters include at least one case study and conclude with a concise summary. In addition, Simmons presents a unique chapter on the island of Cyprus, where intriguing new research challenges assumptions about the impact and extent of the Neolithic. The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East conveys the diversity of our Neolithic ancestors, providing a better understanding of the period and the new social order that arose because of it. This insightful volume will be especially useful to Near Eastern scholars and to students of archaeology and the origins of agriculture.

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Cover

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pp. C-1-

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Foreword

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pp. ix-xiii

The Neolithic Revolution was a major threshold in human evolution. While opinions maydiverge concerningwhy it happened,where it started, and how it spread, there is no doubt that the ensuing economic changes caused by the establishment of farming communities...

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Preface to the Paperback Edition

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pp. xiv-xv

I am delighted with the reissue of this volume in paperback. Since the original publication in 2007, I have been honored by the numerous and (generally!) positive reviews that the book has garnered, and I was humbled that it received...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvi-xviii

In writing a summary such as this, it dawned on me on how many people I am grateful to. There is no way that I can begin to include all of them here, but I can offer thanks to many. I always knew I wanted to study archaeology, so even as a freshman at the University of Colorado I immediately became an anthropology...

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1. Thirty Years in the Trenches

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pp. 3-9

I have been doing archaeology for a long time, and much of it has been in the Near East. This book is based on over 30 years of fieldwork there, starting as an undergraduate in 1971 at sites farmore recent than theNeolithic. By 1974, however, I had...

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2. Theories on Why People Became Food Producers

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pp. 10-29

For most of the human experience, humans subsisted on wild resources. Then, at the end of the Pleistocene, some groups took a momentous first step in exercising more control over their food, eventually culminating in the domestication of both plants...

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3. Environmental Context

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pp. 30-45

The Near East, or Southwest Asia, is a huge area, exceeding 5 million km2 (Cressey 1960:3). This region stretches from northeast Africa and Afghanistan, Turkey, and the Arabian coasts, and contains an immense amount of environmental...

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4. The Natufian: The First Villagers? - Small Steps with Big Consequences

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pp. 46-85

The Near Eastern Neolithic had to start somewhere.Most scholars place this threshold as occurring during the Natufian.While explaining the precise why of the Neolithic Revolution is elusive, we do know that at the end of the last ice age, there...

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5. A Tumultuos Time: Villagers and Others During the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A

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pp. 86-120

The PPNA represents the actual beginning of the Neolithic. Until recently, evidence for its very existence was limited to a few sites, but recent excavations have documented many more sites and a wide range of adaptations. Clearly demonstrated now is the...

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6. Courses Toward Complexity: Florescence During the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B

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pp. 121-174

The PPNB is themost-investigated of all theNeolithic periods and represents its florescence in much of the Near East.During the PPNB, several dramatic developments occur, including the definitive domestication of plants and animals, the elaboration...

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7. Megasites in Jordan and the End of the PPN

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pp. 175-197

Recent research in the southern Levant has shown an LPPNB and early PN cultural record east of the Jordan River that differs significantly from that of other regions (Rollefson 1989, 1996; Simmons 1995, 2000). A dramatic realignment of settlement...

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8. The Pottery Neolithic and the Beginnings of Regional Cultures

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pp. 198-228

The incorporation of ceramic technology into material culture marks the beginning of the PN period, sometimes also called the Late Neolithic. In many ways, the addition of ceramics was far less significant than other changes that occurred.While...

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9. And on the Islands: The Colonization of Cyprus

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pp. 229-263

The Mediterranean islands produced some of the most sophisticated ancient cultures in the world, and yet we know relatively little about their early prehistory. Although examining how pristine island environments were colonized is nothing new...

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10. The Path to the Present: Genesis and Exodus - The Neolithic Experience

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pp. 264-280

Throughout this book, I have attempted a narrative expressing the amazing diversity and complexity of the Near Eastern Neolithic.We have examined its genesis during the Natufian, its subsequent development and florescence during the PPNB, and...

References Cited

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pp. 281-328

Index

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pp. 329-338

About the Author, Back Cover

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pp. 339-340


E-ISBN-13: 9780816501274
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816529667

Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2011