READING THE NEAR EASTERN NEOLITHIC THROUGH DIFFERENCES
The gradual decline of the hunter-gatherer way of life and the eventual transition to sedentism is among the earliest and most prominent thresholds in the history of humankind. The continual accumulation of archaeological knowledge since the early 1900s onwards has provided a clear picture for us archaeologists, yet the definition and interpretation of the Neolithic way of life keeps shifting with the advancement of each new research program and data. We have discussed the Neolithic, and continue doing so, within the framework of various theories and approaches (i.e. “the agricultural revolution”, core-periphery relations and homogenous cultural regions, cultural definitions based on chipped stone technologies, the “Neolithic package” and its expansion, “the golden triangle”, “the birth of the gods”, and so on). Each allows to some extent but at the same time prevents us from understanding the Neolithic in its entirety and defining the different mindsets and lifeways that were in motion during this period of profound changes.
Archaeologists nowadays revisit previous approaches or reevaluate sites excavated during the 1960s and ‘70s with the modern methods of the archaeological sciences. The stratigraphy, chronology, and terminology of the Neolithic research, in that sense, becomes a mound of data waiting to be excavated and analyzed with new methods. Recent research on the Neolithic aptly suggests the independent formation of this new lifeway in different regions. The presence of distinct communities sharing the same region and living under similar circumstances suggest the importance of understanding the diverse nature of the Neolithic.
The COVID-19 pandemic posed a global health issue since January 2020, as well as putting forth new practices that profoundly transformed our lives and professions. Online meetings, conferences, workshops, and webinars are among them. Under these circumstances, we wish to create a sharing environment that would allow us to continue to communicate in these chaotic times. The OnliNEOLITHIC is a product of this wish.
In this series we will focus on understanding the differences and variations of the Neolithic, a period that has been very often defined based on similarities. We wish to share and discuss data and approaches produced by researchers working in different regions, and to create a multi-vocal discussion network.
The talks of the OnliNEOLITHIC series will take place virtually on zoom, twice a month. The presentations will later be uploaded on Youtube to allow easy access to information on the variation and context of Neolithic data for researchers and anyone interested in this period.
We gratefully dedicate the OnliNEOLITHIC series to Trevor Watkins. The contributions of Trevor Watkins to Neolithic research, and his constructive and lively discussions in several international meetings on the Neolithic, has deeply transformed our understanding of this period. He has introduced us to many researchers that have also kindly accepted our offer to be a part of this series, as well as bringing up many new researchers in this field. And lastly, he has kindly accepted our offer to give the first talk of the OnliNEOLITHIC series.