, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 231-290

Reassessing the Emergence of Village Life in the Near East

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Abstract

This article reassesses the timing, context, and impetus for the onset of sedentary, complex hunter-gatherers, food production, and village life in the Near East during the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene. Drawing on recent paleoclimatic and archaeological results, I argue that sedentism and then village life were rapid rather than gradual events that occurred during optimal climatic conditions and took place in resource-rich settings. These two social milestones included fundamental changes in economic strategies, social interaction, and ideology. Only by understanding the interplay between preexisting social institutions and human agency within communities prior to and during these periods of major social change will we be able to understand how and why food production began.