Grounding the net: networks, environments and material culture in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East (~21-6,000 cal BP)

This source preferred by Fiona Coward

Authors: Coward, F.

Start date: 6 April 2010

The use of social network analysis (SNA) methodologies in archaeology has huge potential, but the ‘networks’ analyzed are derived from archaeological proxies for social relations and often highly abstracted from their real-world contexts. This paper will discuss the use of different proxies and levels of analysis in the analysis of the prehistoric social networks of the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East (~21,000-6,000 cal BP). It will also consider how Geographical Information Systems and SNA might be used in tandem to investigate the relationship between social networks and the real-world physical environments in which they occur.

At this time, some groups were moving from a mobile hunting-and-gathering way of life in which social groups underwent regular fission and fusion, to a more sedentary, village-based and agricultural lifestyle with larger and more permanent social aggregations. This paper will attempt to establish and unpick some of the issues and variables involved in the use of SNA methodologies to inform on the potentially profound consequences of such a change in lifeways for the social and cultural lives of the people involved.

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