Abstract: The Neolithic of Jordan: From Mega-sites to Elaborate Villages

Lecturer: Alan H. Simmons

The “Neolithic Revolution,” which began in the Near East about 10,000 years ago, was a dramatic economic and social transformation from hunters and gatherers to village-dwelling farmers.   Much of what we know about the Neolithic comes from the Levantine region, and Jordan, in particular, has contributed substantial new information that has radically changed how we view the Neolithic.  During the Neolithic, portions of the Near East witnessed increasingly complex communities, culminating with “mega-sites” such as ‘Ain Ghazal in present-day Jordan.  This phenomenon resulted in enormous settlements with complex social, ritual, and economic parameters.  After a prolonged period of prosperity, however, they underwent a “down-sizing” that ultimately resulted in their abandonment.  But, not all settlements participated in this mega-site network.   Some remained small communities, such as.  Ghwair 1, located in the remote and hyper-arid Wadi Feinan system of southern Jordan.  Despite its isolation, Ghwair I appears to have been a compact but extraordinarily complex settlement and wealthy village that contains many signs of social complexity without the attendant problems associated with rapid expansion.  In this presentation, I address the range of Neolithic adaptations in the Levant.

 

Short bibliography and/or website on lecture topic:

Kuijt, I. (ed.)  2000  Life in Neolithic Farming Communities.  Kluwer/Academic Press.

Simmons, A. 2007  The Neolithic Revolution in the Near East: Transforming the Human Landscape. The University of Arizona Press.

Simmons, A. 1988  (senior author with G. Rollefson, I. Kohler‑Rollefson, R. Mandel, and Z. Kafafi)  'Ain Ghazal: A Major Neolithic Settlement in Central Jordan.  Science 240(4848):35‑39.

Simmons, A. 2006 (senior author with M. Najjar) Ghwair I: A Small but Complex Neolithic Community in Southern Jordan.  Journal of Field Archaeology31-77-95.

Twiss, K. 2007  The Neolithic of the Southern Levant.  Evolutionary Anthropology 16:24-35.

Featured Lecturer

William Fitzhugh is with the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian Institution, and holds his degrees from Harvard (Ph.D. and M.A.) and Dartmouth (B.A.).  Dr. Fitzhugh’s areas of... Read More

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