The Tepe Telegrams

News & Notes from the Göbekli Tepe Research Staff

Tag: publication

New Publication: “Ritual Practices and Conflict Mitigation at Early Neolithic Körtik Tepe and Göbekli Tepe”

Again the Göbekli Tepe research project did have the great pleasure contributing to another volume edited by Ian Hodder (Stanford University, California) which has been been recently published: Violence and the Sacred in the Ancient Near East. Girardian Conversations at Çatalhöyük” (Cambridge University Press, 2019) [external link] brings together scholars of the mimetic theory of René Girard, for whom human violence is rooted in the rivalry that stems from imitation and archaeologists working at the Neolithic sites of Çatalhöyük and Göbekli Tepe in Turkey. At both sites there is evidence of religious practices that center on wild animals, often large and dangerous in form. Is it possible that these wild animals were ritually killed in the ways suggested by Girardian theorists? Were violence and the sacred intimately entwined and were these the processes that made possible and even stimulated the origins of farming in the ancient Near East?

Offering a perspective from Göbekli Tepe and related sites, our team contributed a paper (by Lee Clare, Oliver Dietrich, Julia Gresky, Jens Notroff, Joris Peters, Nadja Pöllath) on “Ritual Practices and Conflict Mitigation at Early Neolithic Körtik Tepe and Göbekli Tepe, Upper Mesopotamia” (pp. 96-128):

“The cognitive principles of the social brain have remained unaltered since their appearance in anatomically modern humans in Africa some 200,000 years ago. However, by the Early Holocene these capacities, were being challenged by the outcomes of newly emerging lifeways , commonly referred to as ‘Neolithic’. Growing levels of sedentism and new and expanding social networks, were prompting a unique series of behavioural and cultural responses. In recent years, research at the early Neolithic (PPNA) occupation site of Körtik Tepe has provided evidence for heightened levels of interpersonal violence and homicide; yet, at the same time, there are no indications in the present archaeological record for between-group fighting (‘warfare’). In this study, we investigate whether this scenario, at a time when we might expect to see a rise in inter community frictions in the wake of adjusting subsistence strategies and socio-political boundaries, can be at least partially explained by René Girard’s mimetic theory. To this end we consult the pictorial repertoire from the contemporaneous and extraordinary site of Göbekli Tepe.”


Book Details

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Expected online publication date: March 2019
Print publication year: 2019
Online ISBN: 9781108567626
https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108567626

(Detailed table of contents and introduction chapter available on publishers website.)

New Publication: “History Making” at Göbekli Tepe

With “Religion, History, and Place in the Origin of Settled Life” (Boulder, Colorado 2018) [external link] recently a new volume edited by Ian Hodder, Dunlevie Family Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University and best known for his groundbreaking research at Neolithic Çatalhöyük in Turkey, has been published by University Press of Colorado on the role of religion and ritual in the Middle East, focusing on the repetitive construction of houses and cult buildings.

Göbekli Tepe research staff gladly provided some new insights into ongoing research on the site and its interpretation to this volume with a contribution on “Establishing Identities in the Proto-Neolithic: ‘History Making’ at Göbekli Tepe from the Late Tenth Millennium cal BCE” by Lee Clare, Oliver Dietrich, Jens Notroff, and Devrim Sönmez (pp. 115-136):

“Göbekli Tepe in southeast Turkey is a long recognized key site for the study of socio-ritual components of transitional Neolithic communities living in Upper Mesopotamia, a core zone of Neolithization, in the late tenth millennium cal bce. In addition to the construction of the large monumental buildings with their T-shaped monoliths, these groups can be credited with early domestication activities involving wild plant and animal species, which from the mid-ninth millennium cal BCE began to show characteristic morphological changes associated with the emergence of identifiable domesticated forms. Ritual practices and belief systems identified at Göbekli Tepe provide unprecedented insights into the worldview of these ‘proto-Neolithic’ communities at this important juncture in world history. Not only this, the site offers explanations as to how these groups could have overcome various challenges presented by ‘Neolithization’ processes, including demographic growth, increasing competition over biotic and abiotic resources, and a more pronounced vertical social differentiation, with division of labor and craft specialization. In this contribution, it is posited that ‘history making’ at Göbekli Tepe, as reflected, for example, through repititive building activities at the site, could have been used to encourage group identity and to promote a sense of belonging to a common ‘cultic community’, so important in the face of these challenges. Furthermore, it is proposed that these same ‘history making events’ might also have been harnessed by individuals and sub-groups in an attempt to legitimize social status and local, perhaps even regional political influence.”

Book Details

Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-60732-736-3
Hardcover Price: $75.00
EISBN: 978-1-60732-737-0
Ebook Price: $60.00
Publication Month: July
Publication Year: 2018
Pages: 306
Illustrations: 63 figures

(Detailed table of contents and introduction chapter available on publishers website.)

New publication: ‘Feasting, social complexity and the emergence of the Early Neolithic of Upper Mesopotamia: a view from Göbekli Tepe’

The new year brings new books, and here is one we would like to point out, because, well, we have a contribution on Göbekli Tepe in there.

9783319484013

Richard Chacon and Ruben G. Mendoza (eds.), Feast, Famine or Fighting? Multiple Pathways to Social Complexity. Springer International Publishing: New York.

 

The book [external link], edited by Richard Chacon and Ruben G. Mendoza, contains  contributions by  anthropologists, archaeologists and sociologists on the question how social complexity developed in different regions of the world. Our topic is the start of social hierarchization during the early Neolithic, a subject the findings from Göbekli Tepe can significantly contribute to.

So, as a teaser, here is our abstract:

Oliver Dietrich, Jens Notroff, Klaus Schmidt

Feasting, Social Complexity and the Emergence of the Early Neolithic of Upper Mesopotamia: A View from Göbekli Tepe

Early Neolithic social complexity is a topic much discussed but still under-researched. The present contribution explores the possible role of feasting in the emergence of social complexity, hierarchical societies and the shift to the Neolithic way of life in Upper Mesopotamia. This region has long been placed at the periphery of the area relevant for crucial steps in Neolithization. With the hill sanctuary of Göbekli Tepe however it has produced a site that challenges this traditional assumption. There, large circle-like enclosures made up of often richly decorated T-shaped pillars of up to 5.5 m height have been erected during the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (10th millennium BC), followed by smaller rectangular pillar-buildings throughout the early and middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (9th millennium BC). Vast evidence for feasting at the site seems to hint at work feasts to accomplish the common, religiously motivated task of constructing these enclosures.

Given the significant amount of time, labour and skilled craftsmanship invested, and as elements of Göbekli Tepe´s material culture can be found around it in a radius of roughly 200 km all over Upper Mesopotamia, it is likely that the site was the cultic centre of transegalitarian groups.

Access to and command of knowledge crucial to the society´s identity and well-being may have served as a social barrier hindering individuals to step outside of the given limits, while being the basis for power over the work-force of others for a restricted group of people. Social hierachization seems to emerge already in the PPN A of Upper Mesopotamia, earlier than hitherto thought, and maybe also earlier than in the Southern Levant, a region long thought to be the cradle of the new, Neolithic way of life.

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