Culture, chronology and change in the Later Neolithic of North Mesopotamia
The aim of this thesis is to examine the spatial, temporal and social patterning of the late Neolithic of north Iraq. In traditional terms, this covers the Hassuna and Halaf cultures. UndeqJining much of the analysis is a new chronology for the period which fits the available evidence better than has been achieved previously. This chronology emphasises the continuities as much as the changes and stress has been laid on making it general and able to accommodate regional variations. Important new information on the transition between the I-lassuna and the I-Ialaf was obtained by the excavation of one site, Khirbet Garsour, and the detailed surface collection of others in the North Jezira Project survey. Instead of this transition being very abmpt, it is argued that it is a smooth change in north Iraq with considerable cultural continuity. The spread of a single ceramic style over central and northern Iraq and northern Syria is proposed as occurring late in the Hassuna/Samarran sequence rather than several hundred years later in the Halaf.In chapter 6, it is argued that the period saw a progressive degradation of the environment in the main areas of settlement, which may have had an important influence on potential subsistence strategies. Chapter 7 presents new information on the sites from the North Jezira Project survey in north Iraq. Site distributions are analysed on as fine a chronological scale as possible and an emerging settlement hierarchy by the end of the Halaf is suggested. This chapter also considers how space was used within sites and suggests that major changes in the composition and relations of social groups may have occurred during this period. Chapter 8 evaluates evidence for long and short distance exchange systems using the examples of obsidian and pottery. It is suggested that exchange of raw materials was already taking place in a sophisticated manner even at the start of the period. There is evidence that these exchange systems were becoming more complex and transferring larger quantities of goods by the end of the Halaf and that new types of products are being included in the exchange. Chapter 9 looks at the burial evidence and suggests that, although there is some evidence for competition, there is little indication of social hierarchies. Chapter 10 re-examines the Burnt House at Arpachiyah and suggests that it indicates not just social and political control but bureaucratic means of administering it. Certain types of pottery were probably restricted to specific prestige contexts in the late Halaf.t is suggested that the traditional culture group is not well suited to describing spatial entities in this period. Instead, stylistic analysis may be an important future method and new techniques for the analysis of decoration are proposed. Finally, the scale of social development is discussed and it is suggested that significant developments in social organisation of long term significance took place in this period.