Pre-Pottery Neolithic in the Near East Cartolano, Mattia
The Pre-Pottery Neolithic group assemblage refers to the communities that settled in the early Holocene territories of Southwest Asia from about the 10th millennium until the middle of the 7th millennium. These Neolithic groups are primarily spread across the area known as the Fertile Crescent, i.e., the Levant, Anatolia, and Mesopotamia. Among the most significant socio-economic developments of this prehistoric transition are the construction of permanent public structures and monuments, the intensive cultivation of plants and animals (some of which become domesticated), and the establishment of domestic modes of food production. Communities begin to be less nomadic and more sedentary, establishing a more robust and extensive network of social relationships based on trade and the exchange of goods, social practices, and ideas. These developments are generally classified into two chronological phases: the Pre- Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA), which lasts from approximately 9700 to 8600 BCE, and the last phases of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic, the PPNB-C, which begins in 8500 and lasts until 6600 BCE. Many of the social transformations that characterized this prehistoric period occur in the PPNB, such as the emergence of a series of large settlements, the adoption of agro-pastoral activities, and the construction of compartmentalised rectilinear structures. Finally, one of the most prominent features of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic is the formation of built environments rich in figural representations and symbols dedicated to ritual practices, socialisation, and perhaps religious performances. On many occasions, ritual forms are related to burials as in the case of the detachment, manipulation, and decoration of human skulls.
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