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Domestication and inequality? Households, corporate groups and food processing tools at Neolithic Çatalhöyük

Wright, KI; (2014) Domestication and inequality? Households, corporate groups and food processing tools at Neolithic Çatalhöyük. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology , 33 pp. 1-33. 10.1016/j.jaa.2013.09.007. Green open access

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Abstract

Questions about the early Near Eastern Neolithic include whether domestic groups were autonomous and self-sufficient; whether they had access to similar goods; whether households were competitive; whether specialization existed; and how domestic units articulated with corporate groups. Feasting models emphasize household competition and inequality, but ethnographies show that hoe-farming societies in areas of land abundance are usually egalitarian, with little material wealth, little inequality, and little wealth transmission (inheritance). This paper explores the origins of social inequality, via a case study of Neolithic Çatalhöyük East (Turkey), in particular its ground stone artefacts, which were central to food preparation and craft production. Analysis of 2429 artefacts from 20 buildings and 9 yards reveals a mix of egalitarian features and emerging inequality. Households had private property and relatively equal access to cooking features and some ground stone tools; but toolkits do not indicate self-sufficiency. In particular, large millstones (querns) were expensive to procure and possibly shared between households. Most were deliberately destroyed, suggesting taboos on inheritance. Lorenz curves for features and ground stone artefacts suggest that storage units, unbroken querns and unfinished querns were the most unequally distributed food preparation tools/facilities. There are indications of intensification, craft specialization, and emerging factional competition.

Type: Article
Title: Domestication and inequality? Households, corporate groups and food processing tools at Neolithic Çatalhöyük
Location: USA
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaa.2013.09.007
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2013.09.007
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 The Author. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works License (CC BY-NC-ND), which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Domestication, Near East, Neolithic, Çatalhöyük, ground stone, agriculture, inequality, households, feasting, complex society
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1406004
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