Social context of small find distribution at Domuztepe : ritual display and society

Erdem, Deniz
This study examines the spatial distribution of small finds within a late Neolithic ritual context at the site of Domuztepe-Kahramanmaraş (c. 6500-5500). This ritual context is composed of 3 interrelated components, namely the Death Pit, the Ditch and the Burnt Structure, all of which were found located in relation to a specially prepared space made up of compacted red earth, which is called the Red Terrace. The small finds that were recovered from these contexts during the excavations included items such as stamp seals, stone vessels, obsidian objects, shells, beads, small axes, spindle whorls, bone tools and such. Distribution of these items has been examined through correspondance analysis, which aims to demonstrate the relationship between the object groups and the spatial contexts. The aim of such an analysis is to understand the nature of the rituals that took place at Domuztepe, so that the significance of ritual can be evaluated in context of the social organization of the time period. At 20 hectares, Domuztepe is the biggest 6th millennium BC site known to date. This period is named as Halaf Period in North Mesopotamia (6000-5200 BC) and it falls between the Neolithic Transition (c.10500-7000 BC), a term that is used to refer to the appearance of first settled populations and agricultural societies, and the Urban Transition (c. 4000-2500 BC), a term that is used to refer to the appearance of first city-states in the Near East. Therefore, the time period is traditionally perceived as an important stage in the evolution of central authority and ritual and economic centralization that was the hallmark of the first city-states. Within an alternative theoretical approach, this study reviews the space-object-person relations of the time period through a critical analysis of the material culture, related ritual activity and settlement patterns in an attempt to draw a picture of social and economic trends during the Halaf Period. Following this, the significance of ritual activity is evaluated in context of these trends to understand the patterns of social change. As a result, I argue that objects that were studied in this thesis regulated complex social relationships between individuals and groups. As such, their use and ritual deposition indicate significance of routine ritual activity in social organization; however, the findings do not allow one to firmly argue for the existence of central authority that is capable of collecting both the ritual and economic activities of the whole Domuztepe society.
Citation Formats
D. Erdem, “Social context of small find distribution at Domuztepe : ritual display and society ,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2013.