Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture

Dancing at the Dawn of Agriculture

by Yosef Garfinkel
     
 

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

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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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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780292728455
Publisher:
University of Texas Press
Publication date:
06/28/2003
Pages:
346
Product dimensions:
7.20(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Acknowledgments
Pt. IThe Dance Analysis1
Ch. 1Introduction3
Ch. 2Structural Analysis of the Dance27
Ch. 3Functional Analysis of the Dance65
Ch. 4Cognitive Analysis of the Dancing Scenes85
Ch. 5Conclusions99
Pt. IIThe Data103
Ch. 6General Remarks Concerning the Data105
Ch. 7Neolithic Near East111
Ch. 8Halafian and Samarra Cultures125
Ch. 9Neolithic and Chalcolithic Iran161
Ch. 10Neolithic Southeast Europe205
Ch. 11Predynastic Egypt233
Ch. 12Later Examples from the Near East269
Ch. 13Appendix: The Figures with "Turned-Upwards Legs"291
Bibliography297
Index319

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