The Birth of the Gods and the Origins of Agriculture

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Cambridge University Press, Jul 27, 2000 - History - 259 pages
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Jacques Cauvin has spent many years researching the beginnings of the Neolithic in the Near East, excavating key sites and developing new ideas to explain the hugely significant cultural, social and economic changes which transformed mobile hunter-gatherers into the first village societies and farmers in the world. In this book, first published in 2000, the synthesis of his mature understanding of the process beginning around 14,000 years ago challenges ecological and materialist interpretations, arguing for a quite different kind of understanding influenced by ideas of structuralist archaeologists and members of the French Annales school of historians. Defining the Neolithic Revolution as essentially a restructuring of the human mentality, expressed in terms of new religious ideas and symbols, the survey ends around nine thousand years ago, when the developed religious ideology, the social practice of village life and the economy of mixed farming had become established throughout the Near East and east Mediterranean, and spreading powerfully into Europe.
  

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Contents

Introduction i
1
Natural environment and human cultures on the eve of the Neolithic
11
The Revolution in Symbols and the origins of Neolithic religion
22
the sociocultural context
34
strategies of subsistence
51
an assessment
62
THE BEGINNINGS OF NEOLITHIC DIFFUSION
73
Diffusion into the central and southern Levant
96
The problem of diffusion in the Neolithic
137
The completion of the neolithic process in theLevantine nucleus
143
The arrival of farmers on the Mediterranean littoral and in Cyprus
154
the eastern Jezirah and the Syrian
171
Pastoral nomadism
189
Hypotheses for the spread of the Neolithic
199
Conclusion
207
Notes
221

The evidence of symbolism in the southern Levant
105
The dynamics of a dominant culture
121

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