Pathways to Power

Part of the series Fundamental Issues in Archaeology pp 147-168

Traces of Inequality at the Origins of Agriculture in the Ancient Near East

  • T. Douglas PriceAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, University of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Ofer Bar-YosefAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Harvard University

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Some thoughts and ideas concerning the close relationship between the origins of agriculture and the emergence of social inequality were previously expressed by one of us (Price 1995) in the volume Foundations of Social Inequality. Since then a wealth of evidence has accumulated in investigations of Neolithic sites in the Near East as reported by the other author (Bar-Yosef 2001a, 2002b). We thought it would be useful to put together an argument about the coterminous appearance of agriculture and hierarchy, focusing on the Near East. But before delving into the archaeological record, we need to discuss what criteria to look for in terms of the material concomitants of status differentiation in early farming communities.