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The Rise Of Neolithic Social Complexity

3038 words - 13 pages

The rise of Neolithic social complexity has displayed prominent and severe elements of social complexity and inequality through evidence of material culture. In particular, archaeological studies and findings regarding the first emergence of agriculture pioneered by the Natufian community has been an intensely contested issue amongst scholars. On one hand, there were archaeologists conforming to the idea of cultural evolution suggesting the effects of Younger Dryas as the principal factor that independently resulted the Natufian cultural change towards sedentism during the sudden cold climatic event by uniformly domesticating animals and intensifying plant production across the Levant area (Bar-Yosef et al. 1991: 17-19). On the other hand, there were evidences that suggested how by the Late Natufian period, there were immense mobility in hunting and storage practices which suggests that the Natufians were complex hunting and gatherers instead (Maher et al. 2012: 68-70).
In a sense, the latter statement asserted the notion that Natufian community portrayed a degree of social complexity because they were trying to adapt and survive due to social fluctuations by effectively renewing their hunting practices and materialistic innovation to further intensify their subsistence economy when needed. Therefore, this paper will discuss how the Natufian cultural shift does not necessarily conform to the structural-functionalist approach of Younger Dryas as an independent prime mover towards the emergence of agriculture, while elaborating on alternative socio-ecological models to formally assess whether gradual sedentism and intensified resource could have been the catalysts towards Natufian subsistence economy transition towards agriculture by investigating spatial analysis of food storage, hunting practices, along with botanical and animal remains.
Numerous research conducted by archaeologists have pinpoint to investigations of whether socio-economic transitions from Early Natufian to Late Natufian correlates in respect to massive geomorphic effects caused by abrupt climate changes (Bar-Yosef et al. 1991: 18-19). These mass accumulations of interpretations have resulted to various conclusions that ultimately lead to difficulties in developing a uniform consensus amongst archaeologists; however, most analyses focuses on the socio-economic practices by the Late Natufian period which believed to have preluded the emergence of agriculture. In essence, the Natufians residing across the Levant area were labeled as “complex hunter-gatherers” by most archaeologists, because evidence of material culture in most Natufian sites have dismissed the rigid definitions of hunter-gatherers societies strictly as mobile hunters and foragers, constantly scavenging for food to survive (Kuijt et al. 2009: 2). Elaborately, the Natufians as complex hunter-gatherers have been associated with embracing sedentary livelihood practicing the exploitation and processing of plants,...

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