Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture

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Overview

As the nomadic hunters and gatherers of the ancient Near East turned to agriculture for their livelihood and settled into villages, religious ceremonies involving dancing became their primary means for bonding individuals into communities and households into villages. So important was dance that scenes of dancing are among the oldest and most persistent themes in Near Eastern prehistoric art, and these depictions of dance accompanied the spread of agriculture into surrounding regions of Europe and Africa.
In this pathfinding book, Yosef Garfinkel analyzes depictions of dancing found on archaeological objects from the Near East, southeastern Europe, and Egypt to offer the first comprehensive look at the role of dance in these Neolithic (7000–4000 BC) societies. In the first part of the book, Garfinkel examines the structure of dance, its functional roles in the community (with comparisons to dance in modern pre-state societies), and its cognitive, or symbolic, aspects. This analysis leads him to assert that scenes of dancing depict real community rituals linked to the agricultural cycle and that dance was essential for maintaining these calendrical rituals and passing them on to succeeding generations. In the concluding section of the book, Garfinkel presents and discusses the extensive archaeological data—some 400 depictions of dance—on which his study is based.
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Editorial Reviews

Minerva
Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture offers fresh insights into live in the Cradle of Civilisation, and will hopefully serve as great sustenance for future thought on this intriguing issue.
— Sean Kingsley
Minerva - Sean Kingsley
Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture offers fresh insights into live in the Cradle of Civilisation, and will hopefully serve as great sustenance for future thought on this intriguing issue.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780292728455
  • Publisher: University of Texas Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2003
  • Pages: 346
  • Sales rank: 601,784
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgments

Part I. The Dance Analysis
Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Structural Analysis of the Dance
Chapter 3. Functional Analysis of the Dance
Chapter 4. Cognitive Analysis of the Dancing Scenes
Chapter 5. Conclusions

Part II. The Data
Chapter 6. General Remarks Concerning the Data
Chapter 7. Neolithic Near East
Chapter 8. Halafian and Samarra Cultures
Chapter 9. Neolithic and Chalcolithic Iran
Chapter 10. Neolithic Southeast Europe
Chapter 11. Predynastic Egypt
Chapter 12. Later Examples from the Near East
Chapter 13. Appendix: The Figures with "Turned-Upwards Legs"

Bibliography
Index

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