From Diffusion to Structural Transformation: the Changing Roles of the Neolithic House in the Middle East, Turkey and Europe

  • Ian HodderEmail author
Part of the One World Archaeology book series (WORLDARCH)


The papers in this volume make a good case that the house played a key role in the Neolithic of Europe, not only in the sense that it sheltered and protected but also that it contributed substantially to the production of society. In relation to this claim, this chapter makes three points. First, while the chapters are adept at exploring the social dimensions of houses, they could pay more attention to the ways in which the material presence of the house drew humans into particular forms of relationships. Second, there is a need for critical evaluation of who lived in houses. We cannot assume nuclear families of genetically close kin, especially given recent evidence from Çatalhöyük. Third, rather than seeing forms of house emerging from the Middle East and transforming as they spread across Europe, it seems possible to argue that houses went through parallel social and material changes throughout the entire region. Similar pathways are followed in different areas, at different tempos and in different forms.


Neolithic House Nuclear family Materiality Social change 


  1. Baird, D. 2002. Early Holocene settlement in central Anatolia: problems and prospects as seen from the Konya Plain. In The Neolithic of central Anatolia: internal developments and external relations during the 9th-6th millennia cal BC. Proceedings of the International CANeW Round Table, Istanbul, 23–24 November 2001, eds. F. Gérard and L. Thissen, 139–159. Istanbul: Ege Yayınları.Google Scholar
  2. Baird, D. 2005. The history of settlement and social landscapes in the Early Holocene in the Çatalhöyük area. In Çatalhöyük perspectives: themes from the 1995–1999 seasons, ed. I. Hodder, 55–74. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research/British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara Monograph.Google Scholar
  3. Baird, D. 2007a. The Boncuklu Project: the origins of sedentism, cultivation and herding in central Anatolia. Anatolian Archaeology 13:14–18.Google Scholar
  4. Baird, D. 2007b. Pınarbaşı: from Epipalaeolithic camp site to sedentarising village in central Anatolia. In The Neolithic in Turkey: new excavations and new discoveries, eds. M. Özdoğan and N. Başgelen, 285–311. Istanbul: Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayinlari.Google Scholar
  5. Bar-Yosef, O. 1991. The archaeology of the Natufian layer at Hayonim Cave. In The Natufian culture in the Levant, eds. O. Bar-Yosef and F. R. Valla, 81–92. Ann Arbor: International Monographs in Prehistory.Google Scholar
  6. Beugnier, V. 1999. Utilisation de l’outillage en silex et organisation de la production au Néolithique final. In Habitat et société. XIX Rencontres Internationales d’Archéologie et d’Histoire d’Antibes, eds. F. Braemer, S. Cleuziou and A. Coudart, 283–295. Antibes: Editions APDCA.Google Scholar
  7. Bogaard, A. 2004. Neolithic farming in central Europe: an archaeobotanical study of crop husbandry practices. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Borić, D. 2008. First households and ‘house societies’ in European prehistory. In Prehistoric Europe. Theory and practice, ed. A. Jones, 109–142. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  9. Boyd, B. 1995. Houses and hearths, pits and burials: Natufian mortuary practices at Mallaha (Eynan), Upper Jordan Valley. In The archaeology of death in the ancient Near East, eds. S. Campbell and A. Green, 17–23. Oxford: Oxbow.Google Scholar
  10. Byrd, B. 1989. The Natufian encampment at Beidha. Late Pleistocene adaptation in the southern Levant. Århus: Jutland Archaeological Society.Google Scholar
  11. Byrd, B. 1994. Public and private, domestic and corporate: the emergence of the Southwest Asian village. American Antiquity 59:639–666.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cauvin, J. 1979. Les fouilles de Mureybet (1971–1974) et leur signification pour les origins de la sedentarisation au Proche-Orient. Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research 44:19–48.Google Scholar
  13. Düring, B. S. 2006. Constructing communities: clustered neighbourhood settlements of the central Anatolian Neolithic ca. 8500–5500 cal. BC. Unpublished PhD thesis, Leiden Univ.Google Scholar
  14. Düring, B. S. and A. Marciniak. 2006. Households and communities in the central Anatolian Neolithic. Archaeological Dialogues 12:165–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Edwards, P. C. 1991. Wadi Hammeh 27: an early Natufian site at Pella, Jordan. In The Natufian culture in the Levant, eds. O. Bar-Yosef and F. R. Valla, 123–148. Ann Arbor: International Monographs in Prehistory.Google Scholar
  16. Esin, U. and S. Harmanakaya. 1999. Aşıklı in the frame of central Anatolian Neolithic. In Neolithic in Turkey: the cradle of civilization, eds. M. Özdoğan and N. Başgelen, 115–132. Ankara: Arkeoloji ve Sanat Yayinlari.Google Scholar
  17. Flannery, K. V. 2002. The origins of the village revisited: from nuclear to extended households. American Antiquity 67:417–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gonzalez-Ruibal, A. 2006. House societies vs kinship-based societies: an archaeological case from Iron Age Europe. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 26:144–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goring-Morris, N. 2000. The quick and the dead. In Life in Neolithic farming communities: social organization, identity, and differentiation, ed. I. Kuijt, 103–136. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.Google Scholar
  20. Goring-Morris, N. and A. Belfer-Cohen. 2008. A roof over one’s head: developments in Near Eastern residential architecture across the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic transition. In The Neolithic demographic transition and its consequences, eds. J.-P. Bocquet-Appel and O. Bar-Yosef, 239–286. Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hodder, I. 2012. Entangled. An archaeology of the relationships between humans and things. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kenyon, K. M. 1981. Excavations at Jericho III. (Edited by T.A. Holland). Oxford: The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem & Oxford Univ Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kirkbride, D. 1966. Five seasons at the Pre-Pottery Neolithic village of Beidha in Jordan. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 98:8–72.Google Scholar
  24. Kuijt, I. 2008. The regeneration of life: Neolithic structures of symbolic remembering and forgetting. Current Anthropology 49:171–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kuijt, I. and B. Finlayson. 2009. Evidence for food storage and predomestication granaries 11,000 years ago in the Jordan Valley. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 106:10966–10970.Google Scholar
  26. Kuijt, I., E. Guerrero, M. Molist and J. Anfruns. 2011. The changing Neolithic household: household autonomy and social segmentation, Tell Halula, Syria. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 30:502–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Marciniak, A. 2008. Communities, households and animals. Convergent developments in central Anatolian and central European Neolithic. Documenta Praehistorica 35:93–109.Google Scholar
  28. Moore, A., G. Hillman and A. Legge. 2000. Village on the Euphrates. From foraging to farming at Abu Hureyra. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  29. Özbaşaran, M. 2011. The Neolithic on the plateau. In The Oxford handbook of ancient Anatolia, eds. S. Steadman and G. McMahon, 99–124. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  30. Özdoğan, M. and A. Özdoğan. 1990. Çayönü. A conspectus of recent work. Paléorient 15:65–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Perrot, J. 1966. Le gisement Natoufien de Mallaha (Eynan), Israel. L’Anthropologie 70:437–484.Google Scholar
  32. Pilloud, M. A. and C. S. Larsen. 2011. ‘Official’ and ‘practical’ kin: inferring social and community structure from dental phenotype at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 145:519–530. Accessed 24 June 2011.
  33. Ronen, A. and M. Lechevallier. 1991. The Natufian of Hatula. In The Natufian culture in the Levant, eds. O. Bar-Yosef and F. R. Valla, 149–160. Ann Arbor: International Monographs in Prehistory.Google Scholar
  34. Samuelian, N., H. Khalaily and F. R. Valla. 2003. Final Natufian architecture at ‘Eynan (‘Ain Mallaha). Approaching the diversity behind uniformity. Circulated paper.Google Scholar
  35. Souvatzi, S. G. 2008. A social archaeology of households in Neolithic Greece. An anthropological approach. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press.Google Scholar
  36. Stordeur, D. 2000. New discoveries in architecture and symbolism at Jerf el Ahmar (Syria), 1997–1999. Neo-Lithics 1/00:1–4.Google Scholar
  37. Valla, F. R. 1991. Les Natoufiens de Mallaha et l’espace. In The Natufian culture in the Levant, eds. O. Bar-Yosef and F. R. Valla, 111–122. Ann Arbor: International Monographs in Prehistory.Google Scholar
  38. Verhoeven, M. 2006. Megasites in the Jordanian Pre-Pottery Neolithic B. Evidence for ‘proto-urbanism’? In Domesticating space: construction, community, and cosmology in the late prehistoric Near East, eds. E. B. Banning and M. Chazan, 75–79. Berlin: Ex Oriente.Google Scholar
  39. Watkins, T. 2004. Building houses, framing concepts, constructing worlds. Paléorient 30:5–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Watkins, T. 2006. Architecture and the symbolic construction of new worlds. In Domesticating space, eds. E. B. Banning and M. Chazan, 15–24. Berlin: Ex Oriente.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

Personalised recommendations