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objects, including art, with others. One adult female was even buried with a
puppy (Valla 1975). At Hayonim cave perforated fox teeth and variable
amounts of dentalium shells, probably from decorated caps and garments,
were found in the graves. Burial 25 had a bracelet of twenty-five beads made
from the leg bones of partridges (Belfer-Cohen 1988; Pichon 1983). Other
containers in the form of groundstone pestles and a goblet shaped mortar
broken into five pieces were found not in the graves, but in the earth used
to fill them (Belfer-Cohen 1988:305). This association of bodies and
containers carries on into the Early Neolithic where the Natufian tradition
of bringing skulls into the houses continues, although grave goods are rare
(Byrd and Monahan 1995). Plastering the faces of these Neolithic skulls is a
distinctive feature (Kuijt 1996:319À21; Watkins 2004a:102).
Ian Kuijt (1996:331À2) interprets this Early Neolithic evidence as the
continuing influence of Natufian, hunter-gatherer, egalitarianism. It was,
he believes, a deliberate choice by communities to prevent the fragmenta-
tion of their existing corporate life that social complexity, now based on
food surplus, might jeopardise. I would argue differently. Rather than
egalitarianism acting as a social principle by which people made their
decisions, I would return to the shifting authority which accumulation
and enchainment and their supportive social actions make during social
reproduction. The construction of authority is enacted and embodied,
rather than consciously stated, as a belief in egalitarianism implies. The
outcome is constrained by materiality, of which the childscape is an exam-
ple, because of the way such environments of development are negotiated
by associating people and objects. I am not saying that people never think
about change because their ˜thinking™ is done for them by objects and
artefacts but rather that we are autopoietic, self-creating and dealing with
the world as presented. Moreover, we are not socially free-agents always
ready to take the plunge and create fresh identities. Cultural anarchy is
never an option, even among bricoleurs.
For example, burial within the house was not a universal practice but a
local tradition. At Netiv Hagdud, an Early Neolithic locale without pottery
in the lower Jordan Valley, there is abundant evidence for ˜furniture™ within
Did agriculture change the world? 263

the oval houses including hearths, grinding slabs, stone storage bins and
boulders with cup-holes (Bar-Yosef and Gopher 1997:Figures 3.6, 3.9, 3.15,
3.21). However, here the association of bodies and houses was often close
rather than integral. At Netiv Hagdud (Bar-Yosef and Gopher 1997:201À8)
adults were buried either in yards or in abandoned houses rather than in the
floors of lived-in dwellings as was the case at Jericho (Cauvin 1978; Kuijt
1996). Furthermore, throughout the Early Neolithic burials are only rarely
associated with grave goods. This is in marked contrast to the sometimes
richly adorned early Natufian burials. This has led Anna Belfer-Cohen
(1995:15) to question the importance of symbolism as permanent settle-
ments appeared and then grew in size and complexity. If rich graves
indicate social differentiation during the Natufian then what, she asks, was
happening when such evidence disappears? It is a good question and points
to the idiosyncratic use of material metaphors by people who were
interested in constructing identity locally rather than following a universal
agenda of cultural evolution. Agriculture was the product of bricoleurs
placing unfamiliar categories into new conceptual arrangements.

Domestic resources
This pattern is also illustrated by the transition to domestic crops and
animals (Bar-Yosef and Meadow 1995; Garrard 1999). At Abu Hureyra, a tell
locale on the Euphrates river in Syria (Moore et al. 2000), the second
village in the sequence lasted for over two and a half millennia between
10,600 and 7,800 years ago. During this time the transition occurred from
hunting gazelle during their summer migration to year-round herding of
goats and sheep (Moore et al. 2000:Figure 14.2). At the same time wild-plant
gathering was attenuated as cereal and pulse cultivation came to dominate.
As archaeo-botanist Gordon Hillman (Moore et al. 2000:422) has shown,
what began as foraging from a large number of small micro-habitats in the
vicinity of the locale came, by the end of the 2,500 year life of Village 2,
to represent a significant narrowing of dietary diversity. Rather than harvest-
ing the gifts of the environment, the settlement itself, like the rye, wheat,
barley and legumes, had to be grown as a container in its own right. Such
growth directly impacted on the body. The seeds, threshed from the ears
of wheat that held them, were ground for several hours each day by the
women until their bodies changed through the pain of their labour (Moore
et al. 2000:503). And as their bodies changed under the arduous nature of
processing wild and then domestic cereals, so the material proxies of these
identities also changed (Wright 1994). Additional labour followed the
264 Origins and Revolutions

figure 8.11. The changing frequencies of ground stone tool containers in Natufian and
Early Neolithic locales in the Levant (after Wright 1994:Figure 8). The inset is a stone

introduction of querns and grinding slabs that replaced existing mortars and
bedrock mortars (Figure 8.11). Bodies were grown and identity established,
through the authority of the container.
Containers altered the body in many ways. At Abu Hureyra, bio-
anthropologist Theya Molleson found distinctive grooves on some of the
skeletons™ front teeth that can be interpreted as the result of holding canes
while weaving baskets (Moore et al. 2000:503). Traces of mats and baskets,
but no pottery, were found during excavation.

Responding to the environment
The impact of a widespread cooling event, the Younger Dryas
12,650À11,500 years ago (Bjorck et al. 1998), is presented persuasively by
Ofer Bar-Yosef (Bar-Yosef 1998; 2001; Bar-Yosef and Meadow 1995) as the
environmental trigger on this path to ecological simplification and
fundamental economic change. Lewis Binford (2001) has identified a
density threshold among hunters and gatherers that is critical to subsistence
change and that might arise from an event such as the Younger Dryas
(Moore and Hillman 1992). Binford refers to this as packing: defined as the
patterned reduction in subsistence range arising from a regional increase in
population. In particular, at packing densities greater than 9.1 per 100 km2
Binford has established there can no longer be a primary dependence
on land animals and that mobility, the key tactic available to hunters
and gatherers to solve resource fluctuations, is not an option. Faced
with this situation their first move will be to use aquatic resources, followed
later by harvesting plants. The resources at locales such as Ohalo II
Did agriculture change the world? 265

(Nadel 2002) and Abu Hureyra (Moore et al. 2000) suggest that this was
indeed the route followed. Sedentism results from packing À the number
of social units À and not from pressure of population numbers alone
(Binford 2001:438).
However, what was significant was the interpretation by the people living
at Abu Hureyra of this changing environment. To do this they brought into
association material forms that encompassed both the biological and
material worlds so that growing new bodies and identities commenced.
What they brought to this task were their own bodies and the material
proxies of containers and instruments that had always been the means to
construct identity in the face of change. As philosopher Andy Clark (1997)
has put it, what matters is identifying the ˜proper context™ within which such
an embodied, social intelligence exists and how it relates to change. That
context is not an external environment against which hominins struggle
either as hunters or farmers to make a living and maximise returns. Instead
it is integral to material projects such as the childscape and the environ-
ment of growth.

Case study: growing the body with material metaphors
Since sedentism is regarded as a turning point in human cognitive,
symbolic and social life it forms the basis of my last case study. Here I
draw on the last Palaeolithic and earliest Neolithic in the Levant (Table 8.7)
between 12,000 and 6,000 years ago (Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen 1989; Byrd
1994; Byrd and Monahan 1995; Flannery 2002; Gamble 2004; Goring-
Morris 1987; Hayden 2000; Henry 1985; Kaufman 1992; Kuijt 2000; Rocek
and Bar-Yosef 1998; Valla 1991).
Kuijt (2000) sets out the sequence to sedentism (Table 8.8) and points to a
significant rise in settlement size from the Natufian through the Early
Neolithic. The estimated population on these settlements increases by
some 5,000 per cent over a period of 3,000 years. For example, Village 2 at
Abu Hureyra grew from an estimated 2,500 people to a possible 6,000 in two
and a half millennia (Moore et al. 2000:494). At its height Village 2 had
doubled in size, covering 16 ha with densely packed mud-brick rectangular
houses. Such population growth is not, however, matched by a proportional
increase in burials, as Table 8.8 reveals, with the Late Neolithic being
particularly poorly represented. Moreover, the number of sites with skele-
tons declines from twelve in the Natufian to six in the PPNA, rising to
nineteen in PPNB (Nadel 1994:Table 1).
266 Origins and Revolutions

table 8.8. Trends in sedentism in the Mediterranean zone of the Levant during the
Late Epi-Palaeolithic, Pre-Pottery Neolithic (PPN) and Ceramic Neolithic (compiled
from Kuijt 2000:Tables 1 and 2 and Figures 4 and 6, Nadel 1994)

% increase Number
Site from Population Compartments of
per 100 m2
area ha Epi-Palaeolithic estimate burials
Pottery Neolithic 0 400? No data 410

LPPNB 7À14 5,000 3,293 14.5
MPPNB 0.5À4.5 1,500 764 6.4
PPNA 0.2À2.5 500 332 2.4 4320
Late Natufian 0.2 59 1.6 4420

But while we do not find evidence for more burials to match much larger
population sizes what we do find are more containers. It is with the Early
Neolithic that we can believe in the archaeological evidence for houses,
as Verpoorte (2001:131) points out with some relief after the problems we
saw during the common ground. Modular architecture has finally arrived
with the Early Neolithic. Not only do we feel, like Verpoorte, at home
with the evidence but we can also see in this modularisation the changed
primary metaphor of growing the body.
Abu Hureyra represented an extreme form of nucleated settlement. Its
multi-roomed houses, with floors often made of coloured gypsum plaster,
were set close together with only narrow passages and courts between
them. The construction of large numbers of such dwellings constituted an
architectural revolution. The houses were of the same kind from one end
of the settlement to the other, and seem to have filled up much of the
inhabited area of the site . . . We found no large open spaces between the
houses, no substantial storage buildings, and no workshops in the areas we
(Moore et al. 2000:494)

In his analysis of the history of the Early Neolithic (PPNB) village at
Beidha in southern Jordan, Brian Byrd (1994:658) has drawn attention to
the modular sizes of the mud-brick houses (Table 8.9) and to the changes in
social relationships which these architectural forms imposed.
As the village grew (Figure 8.12) so restrictions occurred on access and
visibility into buildings, thereby limiting the opportunities for sharing and
Did agriculture change the world? 267

table 8.9. The mean size in m2 of the interior sizes of three architectural
categories at the Early Neolithic locale of Beidha (Byrd 1994:Table 3). Phase A is
the oldest

Phase Small building Medium building Large building
C 3.9 10.6 32.6
B 6.9 34.9
A 4.1 12.8 71.4
Number 17 22 6

promoting household autonomy. Architectural decisions now led to the
partitioning of social space by using these modules to create sets.
This trend is well shown in Kuijt™s (2000) study of compartmentalisation
of village space during the same process of sedentarisation (Table 8.8,
Figure 8.13). The division of architectural space rises from 1.6 compart-
ments per 100 m2 in the Natufian to 14.5 by the end of the Early Neolithic.
In the PPNB there was what many regard as an excessive division of house
space, best known from Basta, also in southern Jordan. Here the small
claustrophobic compartments, often no more than 1.5 m2, are interpreted as
storage rooms. Kuijt (ibid.:89) sees them as a response to the stress of social
crowding as the community grew in size so that privacy and ownership of
personal goods now acquired a premium.
Sedentism is therefore about the use of containers in the social practices
of enchainment and accumulation that grew bodies. Both practices can be
seen in Byrd and Kuijt™s analyses of these early villages. The accumulation
of houses in the three phases at Early Neolithic Beidha (Table 8.9) (Byrd
1994:Figures 3, 5 and 7) is also matched by the increasing enchainment of
the units. The latter can be seen in their physical linkage as the settlement
became more compact (ibid.:658) as well as the increase in the inter-
nal divisions of the houses as identified through topological analysis
(ibid.:Figure 4).
These related practices can in turn be associated with the social actions
of fragmentation and consumption. The fragmentation of space, so clearly
seen at Basta, was also prevalent in phase C at Beidha. But space was also
being consumed, and it should perhaps come as no surprise that the con-
text provided by these social actions and practices led, as Byrd (1994:658)
argues, for new forms of production, storage and the circulation of goods
and resources.
268 Origins and Revolutions

figure 8.12. Growth through the accumulation of sets. The Early Neolithic locale of
Beidha grew through the addition of modules and the partitioning or fragmentation of
containers (after Byrd 1994).

Here is an example of the potential of both fragmentation and
consumption to create material outcomes for a hybrid network at locales
in the wider social landscape (Jones and Richards 2003:45). The body is
grown by creating new containers in the form of mud-brick houses and
Did agriculture change the world? 269

figure 8.13. The fragmentation of social space in the Early Neolithic of the Near East
(after Kuijt 2000). As settlement size increased so did the compartmentalisation (cmpt) of
living space. These resulted in the tiny containers at the locale of Basta (inset).

multiplying them in the easiest possible way by making them smaller
through fragmentation. The architecture is not so much an exercise in
modularisation as one of micro-lisation comparable to the overproduction
of lithic components for the reproduction of the body that I discussed

Linking properties
The Early Neolithic houses and villages were also enchained across social
landscapes through items such as marine shells (Bar-Yosef Mayer 1991;
1997; 2000), and stone beads (Wright and Garrard 2003). The latter have
been studied by Andrew Garrard and Katherine Wright at the sixteen
270 Origins and Revolutions

figure 8.14. Jilat site 26 in the Azraq basin. These Early Neolithic locales produced
abundant stone beads (inset, courtesy of A. Garrard) that enchained people across the
Near East.

excavated locales in the Jilat-Azraq basin, Jordan (Figure 8.14). Evidence
for bead-making abounds and was found inside buildings (Wright and
Garrard 2003:270). But unlike Abu Hurerya or Ain Mallaha the Jilat-Azraq
locales were short-lived settlements on the edge of the desert. What is
striking is the amount of unfinished materials, drawing comparisons with
the much earlier overproduction of microliths. The majority of unfinished
elements are a green Dabba marble while the finished elements come from
a much wider range of colours, all but a few found within 20 km of the
Neolithic locales. Wright and Garrard conclude that ˜the beadmakers were
making a much narrower range of bead materials than they were actually
using (consuming) at these sites™ (Wright and Garrard 2003:279). But were
they producing stockpiles for export as the authors suggest and if so why
leave them behind at these seasonal camps? Beads are widespread across
the Levant although the numbers of exotics are always small. They are
unremarkable but they undoubtedly enchained. Wright and Garrard see
the significance of the beads in terms of new identities based on larger trade
networks that came from domesticating sheep and goat (Wright and
Garrard 2003:282). I prefer to see them as elements in growing a body. Their
suspension indicates that they are a container changing the body™s
boundaries by association; harvested in the desert, selected by colour,
Did agriculture change the world? 271

ground like grain to produce their shape and planted as sets in other locales
within the social landscape of the Levant to grow relationships.

The well-swept home
The move from circular (Natufian) to rectangular (Early Neolithic)
structures has long been interpreted as a reflection of fundamental changes
in household organisation during the process of domestication and surplus
food production (Flannery 1972b; 2002). But I have shown that it is no
longer possible to regard material culture as a simple reflection of systemic
developments. Such a position is well demonstrated by the Late Epi-
Palaeolithic, Harifian locale of Abu Salem (Marks and Scott 1976) in the
Negev desert. The locale has a surface concentration of artefacts covering
2500 m2 and an excavation of 10 per cent of this area found a series of oval
and circular architectural features ranging in size from 1 m to 4 m in
diameter. But what is more interesting than this evidence of an early village
is the treatment of these containers as places to accumulate material
culture. ˜House-cleaning™ was not one of their routines (Goring-Morris
1988:240). The fragmentation of chipped stone inside these structures and
their intervening spaces produced impressive lithic densities, even when
deflation and other taphonomic processes are considered. Structure 1, for
example, produced 16,901 lithics per m3 and a nearby trash pit some 9,864
pieces per m3. Such accumulation overshadows any figures from locales
in Palaeolithic Europe (Gamble 1986:Appendix 1) but is not uncommon
in the Levant (Garrard 1991; Goring-Morris 1987; Muheisin 1985). As
Chapman (2000) pointed out the fragmentation of stone can be to produce
instruments for the purpose of enchaining people between locales.
However, at Abu Salem fragmentation produced materials for accumula-
tion within containers at that locale.
What occurs elsewhere during the Early Neolithic is a cessation of such
accumulation in architectural containers. For example, Watkins™ (1992;
2004a; 2004b) excavation at Qermez Dere, a PPNA locale in northern Iraq,
found no artefacts on the various floors within the architectural structures
or burials beneath them. At Qermez Dere burial took place near the house
with the skulls, once removed, then coming back to the house. The house
was also remodelled on several occasions, regularly re-plastered, and
through such accumulation a place, re-used over almost three centuries,
was defined.
But are the ˜house-proud™ owners of Qermez Dere that much different
from the earlier Harifian ˜slobs™ at Abu Salem? Was increasing sedentism in
272 Origins and Revolutions

the Early Neolithic leading to more varied engagements with the material
world and a symbolic explosion? Both were using containers in their
material and social networks. Both accumulated traditions at specific
locales in the landscape. Both were involved in fragmentation and
consumption although using very different materials. What differentiates
them is the authority constructed from accumulation and enchainment
and the social actions upon which they were based.

Houses become pots
These differences are best expressed as the intersection of material and
corporal culture (Figure 4.1) and the question of why you fragment and how
you consume the results. During technology™s short answer the why part of
the question shifts further towards the practice of accumulation and the
how continues the move from instruments to containers. This transfer of
authority was neither a home-grown revolution nor an outside replacement
but instead a different expression through materiality that social life was
now to be container rather than instrument focused, and that growing the
body was the primary metaphor for the elaboration of those material
The implications were considerable. For instance, the dramatic down-
sizing in settlement area, numbers and known burials which occurred
in the Levant with the appearance of pottery (Table 8.8) can now be
understood in terms of this move to a material culture that favoured
containers. I would suggest that we have an analogous history of change
to Rainbird™s (1999) analysis of the pots and tombs of Pohnpei described in
Chapter 7. The excessive compartmentalisation of the later PPN settle-
ments such as Basta was replaced by another form of container, pottery,
to embody people™s social networks that included the living and the
ancestors. This form of container had in turn the almost infinite potential
for further divisibility and reproduction, just by making more pots. Little
wonder that the settlement patterns and sizes changed dramatically (Kuijt
2000:Figure 4). The materiality of social reproduction had changed but the
social practices remained similar.

I have suggested in this chapter that agriculture did not change the world, or
rather not in the ways that we usually credit its impact. In particular it did
not give rise to society-as-we-know-it (Runciman 2005) or the modern mind
Did agriculture change the world? 273

(Watkins 2004a) simply because there are too many antecedents in the use
of material culture to provide meaning to place and landscape and to create
social relationships. But by the same token, neither did modern minds

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