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The Neolithic of the Near East (1975)
James Mellaart (LC# GN 776.33 N4 M44)

Pre-History and Archaeology Glossary

Excerpts and Definitions and Addendums:

The story begins with Epi-Paleolithic hunters developing a new awareness of their environment and its food resources, both plant and animal. Even before the beginning of the Holocene, circa 8000 BC, some of these groups had started to experiment with the planting of crops -- the first steps toward agriculture, and the domestication of some animals. The Neolithic, the period of early farming, had begun.

The most characteristic product of the Neolithic was painted pottery, in which was expressed a sense of individuality, artistry and abstraction lacking among many of the earlier, purely artifactual household assemblages [which came before].

In the Neolithic period neither Egypt nor Mesopotamia had yet reached a position of cultural dominance over its neighbours. Urban civiilization has predecessors to these two at sites like Jericho or Çatal Höyük, in Palestine and Anatolia, long regarded as backwaters.

..... It has become abudantly clear that there was no area in the Near East during the Neolithic period that can claim an uninterrupted cultural development; cultures rise and fall .....

In Egypt and Sumer in dynastic times, as prehistory faded into dim history in the third millennium BC, new factors were at work: stronger political and economic control which ensured a stability of culture that could and did outlast political strife, foreign invasion, floods and disasters with greater success than had earlier cultures .....

The Levant from the Epi-Paleolithic
to the End of the Aceramic Period

Distinctive Upper Paleolithic stone industries of blade and burin type used by Homo sapiens for the manufacture of weapons as well as for various household objects in stone, bone, antler, wood and other perishable materials have been recognized in caves or open sites in various regions of the Near East.

The two best known groups are the Levanto-Aurignacian (25,000 - 18,000 BC) in the Levant and the Baradostian (34,000 - 20,000 BC) of the Zagros Mountains of western Iran.

Sites of this period can be divided into base camps, butchering places and intermediate camp sites of hunting bands where numbers were probably limited. Most of the large cave sites served as base camps; smaller shelters may have been used as intermediate sites, but butchering places are often out in the open, though the use of such sites may have varied from season to season. Of permanent occupation there is no trace, and these hunters were evidently migratory throughout the territories they occupied; each group may well have had several sets of caves at their disposal.

Apart from similarities in tool types, there is little evidence to show contract and trade between the various groups at this period. The total number of individuals was probably limited and indeed burials are rare. No evidence for art has yet been discovered.

Some time between 20,000 and 16,000 BC the Upper Paleolithic gave rise to new cultures, collectively called Epi-Paleolithic; Kebaran in the Levant, Belbasi in the Antalya region, and Zarzian in the Zagros [Mountains]. The chief technological invention is that of the microlithic composite tool.

The presence of some microliths in the Baradostian and a tendency towards smaller tools in the late Levanto-Aurignacian strongly suggests that the Epi-Paleolithic cultures were not the result of the arrival of newcomers but represent regional developments from the preceding Upper Paleolithic ...

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium