Self, display and concealment: constructing networks of identity in the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East

This source preferred by Fiona Coward

Authors: Coward, F.

Start date: 4 February 2010

Archaeological research into the adoption by some groups during the Epipalaeolithic and early Neolithic of the Near East of more sedentary ways of life that gradually developed into a fully co-residential, village-based agricultural lifestyle has become intimately associated with debate about the symbolic and ideological meaning of ‘the house’ and the role it played in this process. In this paper I argue that symbolic meaning was secondary to the practical effect of changing architectural practices. Focusing on the mundane everyday practices that underpin decisions about the structure and construction of dwellings, I will ask what the architectural changes over the course of this period imply in terms of the ways in which individuals, families and groups actually lived their daily lives. How do decisions regarding the construction, maintenance and reproduction of houses reflect and impact on changes in the social relations between individuals and between larger groups in the wider regional social networks of the time? I will argue that social networks were becoming simultaneously wider and more fragmented during this period, as architectural developments relate to increasing opportunities to construct, control, present and conceal diverse aspects of individual and group selfhood.

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