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Aşıklı Höyük: The Generative Evolution of a Central Anatolian PPN Settlement in Regional Context

Abstract

The first Neolithic settlements in Southwest Asia began with a dual commitment to plant cultivation and a sedentary lifestyle. The benefits that foragers-turned-farmers gained from this commitment came with some inescapable constraints, setting new evolutionary pathways for human social and economic activities. We explore the developmental process at the early Pre-Pottery Neolithic site of Aşıklı Höyük in central Anatolia (Turkey), specifically the relationship between internal dynamics and external influences in early village formation. Feedback mechanisms inherent to the community were responsible for many of the unique developments there, including domestication of a variant of free-threshing wheat and the early evolution of caprine management, which gave rise to domesticated stock. Gradual change was the rule at Aşıklı, yet the cumulative transformations in architecture, settlement layout, and caprine management were great. The many strands of evidence reveal a largely local (endemic) evolution of an early Pre-Pottery Neolithic community. However, burgeoning inequalities stemming from production surplus such as livestock likely stimulated greater regional interaction toward the end of the sequence.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to express our profound thanks to all the scholars, friends, students, institutions, and foundations that directly or indirectly contributed to this collective work. Special thanks also go to Max Price, Steve Kuhn, and four anonymous JARE reviewers for their many insightful comments and corrections to an earlier version of this manuscript. The first author is also grateful to John Odling-Smee, Claes Andersson, and Kevin Laland for enlightening conversations on NCT over the years, which have contributed greatly to the conceptual background of this paper. In addition to the community of Kızılkaya Village, the following institutions deserve special mention for their support: Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism, General Directorate of Cultural Assets and Museums; Istanbul University Research Fund (Project ID 25754); Istanbul University Faculty of Letters; Governorship of Aksaray; Governorship of Gülağaç District; Public Education Center of Gülağaç Governorship; American Embassy in Turkey/Ankara. Additional funds for the project were provided to the first author by two consecutive Archaeology Program grants from the National Science Foundation (BCS-0912148 and BCS-1354138).

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Stiner, M.C., Özbaşaran, M. & Duru, G. Aşıklı Höyük: The Generative Evolution of a Central Anatolian PPN Settlement in Regional Context. J Archaeol Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10814-021-09167-z

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Keywords

  • Domestication
  • Niche construction
  • Social networks
  • Site formation processes
  • Caprine management