Religion in the Emergence of Civilization: Çatalhöyük as a Case Study

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This book presents an interdisciplinary study of the role of spirituality and religious ritual in the emergence of complex societies. Involving an eminent group of natural scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists, philosophers, and theologians, this volume examines Çatalhöyük as a case study. A nine-thousand-year old town in central Turkey, Çatalhöyük was first excavated in the 1960s and has since become integral to understanding the symbolic and ritual worlds of the early farmers and village-dwellers in the Middle East. It is thus an ideal location for exploring theories about the role of religion in early settled life. This book provides a unique overview of current debates concerning religion and its historical variations. Through exploration of themes including the integration of the spiritual and the material, the role of belief in religion, the cognitive bases for religion, and religion’s social roles, this book situates the results from Çatalhöyük within a broader understanding of the Neolithic in the Middle East.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
‘This collection is an excellent illustration of the current preoccupations of archaeologists interpreting lost civilizations, and of the potential fruits of a collective approach by social scientists to understanding human beliefs.’ -TLS
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521150194
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/30/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ian Hodder is Dunlevie Family Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. He was recently awarded the Huxley Medal by the Royal Anthropological Institute and is the author of various books, including, most recently, The Leopard's Tale: Revealing the Mysteries of Çatalhöyük (2006).

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Table of Contents

1. Probing religion at Çatalhöyük: an interdisciplinary experiment Ian Hodder; 2. The symbolism of Çatalhöyük in its regional context Ian Hodder and Lynn Meskell; 3. Spiritual entanglement: transforming religious symbols at Çatalhöyük LeRon Shults; 4. Coding the non-visible: epistemic limitations and understanding symbolic behavior at Çatalhöyük Wentzel van Huyssteen; 5. Modes of religiosity at Çatalhöyük Harvey Whitehouse and Ian Hodder; 6. Is there religion at Çatalhöyük … or just houses? Maurice Bloch; 7. History houses: a new interpretation of architectural elaboration at Çatalhöyük Ian Hodder and Peter Pels; 8. Marked, absent, habitual: approaches to Neolithic religion at Çatalhöyük Webb Keane; 9. Temporalities of religion at Çatalhöyük Peter Pels; 10. The Neolithic cosmos of Çatalhöyük Paul Wason; 11. Magical deposits at Çatalhöyük: a matter of time and place? Carolyn Nakamura; 12. Conclusions and evaluation Ian Hodder.

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