The Birth of the Gods and the Origins of Agriculture

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This innovative study analyzes the great cultural and economic changes occurring in the Near East between 10,000 and 7,000 BC as Palaeolithic societies of hunter-gatherers gave way to village communities of Neolithic food-producers. Challenging the orthodox, materialist interpretations, and drawing on French theories of mentalities, Jacques Cauvin argues that the Neolithic revolution must be understood as an intellectual transformation, revealing itself above all in symbolic activities. He describes the emergence of the first agricultural villages, pastoralism and nomadism, and the diffusion of Neolithic ideas and practice to the region's periphery.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Recent references...and a postscript chapter update the second French edition, and numerous photographs and drawings add immeasurably to the volume's usefulness." Choice
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521039086
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/18/2007
  • Series: New Studies in Archaeology Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Table of Contents

List of plates
List of figures
Translator's note
Foreword to the second French edition
Foreword to the English edition
Chronological table
Introduction 1
Pt. I The Origins of Agriculture 9
1 Natural environment and human cultures on the eve of the Neolithic 11
2 The first pre-agricultural villages: the Natufian 15
3 The Revolution in Symbols and the origins of Neolithic religion 22
4 The first farmers: the socio-cultural context 34
5 The first farmers: strategies of subsistence 51
6 Agriculture, population, society: an assessment 62
7 The Neolithic Revolution: a transformation of the mind 67
Pt. II The Beginnings of Neolithic Diffusion 73
8 A geographical and chronological framework for the first stages of diffusion 75
9 The birth of a culture in the northern Levant and the neolithisation of Anatolia 78
10 Diffusion into the central and southern Levant 96
11 The evidence of symbolism in the southern Levant 105
12 The dynamics of a dominant culture 121
Pt. III The Great Exodus 135
13 The problem of diffusion in the Neolithic 137
14 The completion of the neolithic process in the 'Levantine nucleus' 143
15 The arrival of farmers on the Mediterranean littoral and in Cyprus 154
16 The sedentary peoples push east: the eastern Jezirah and the Syrian desert 171
17 Pastoral nomadism 189
18 Hypotheses for the spread of the Neolithic 199
Conclusion 207
Postscript 212
Notes 221
Bibliography 239
Index 255
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