January 13, 2013
Modern Changes Brought in at Neolithic Times
During the “New” Stone Age, also known as the Neolithic Period, art and life in general began to change drastically for humans. Many new onsets began to bloom, for example humans of this time period had begun to live in single locations versus before they were nomadic hunter-gatherers. This new life introduced new challenges and new opportunities. Within this paper I will discuss three Neolithic Locations, Jericho, Çatal Höyük, and Stonehenge. Also, what made each of these sites significant, what new forms of buildings were present at each, and what is still perplexing modern day historians and archaeologists about these sites.
I will start with the oldest of the three locations from above, Jericho. Jericho is a city of Palestine, but has been under the occupation of many. Its most important fact is that it is one of the oldest known permanently occupied cities in the world, occupied during the Natufian era (10,800 – 8,500 BCE) to present day. It was primarily occupied during a time known as the Pre-Pottery Neolithic Period (PPN: 8,500 – 6,000 BCE), which is further broken down into two more time frames called PPNA (8,500 - 7,300 BCE) and PPNB (7,300 – 6,000 BCE).
Along with being one of the oldest known cities, Jericho shows us that humans of the Neolithic Period had begun to create permanent structures for living. After the domestication of plants and animals it is believed that Jericho was chosen to be a permanent settlement because it was a plateau of the Jordan River valley with a spring that supplied a constant source for water. During the PPNA, oval homes made from mud bricks with roofs made from wooden branches covered in earth began to appear at Jericho. Around 7,500 BCE, a rock-cut ditch and thick walls approximately 5 feet wide surrounded the city. Within the wall there is a single circular tower (fig. 1), approximately 30 feet high and almost 33 feet in diameter. These walls and towers mark the beginning of monumental architecture. Later, during the PPNB era the architects of Jericho began building the homes with rectangular mud bricks and a plaster-like mud mortar, these houses were made into rectangular shapes due to the rectangular bricks. During this time we can also find evidence of new forms of art, plastered human skulls. It is believed these heads may have been used for a cult or religion of some sort. The heads were formed around a human skulls with the plaster-like mud mortar and then shells were placed in the eyes, and traces of paint were also found to shown a resemblance of skin and hair (fig 2). Next, let’s discuss another major settlement of the Neolithic Period that was formed between 7,000 and 5,000 BCE, Çatal Höyük. This site is important because it is possible to retrace human evolution of the Neolithic culture over the period of approximately 800 years. The people of Çatal Höyük were Neolithic weapon and toolmakers, especially in the use of obsidian. More importantly though was the village itself, it’s architecture and the art that thrived within. Most important about its architecture is that adjoining buildings, meaning it had no streets, formed this village. In July of 2012, Çatal Höyük was inscribed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. There are two types of buildings that were constructed within Çatal Höyük, houses and shrines. The houses were made of mud bricks that were strengthened by timber frames. These homes contained no doors, but openings at the top that served as an entrance and a chimney. The interiors were plastered and painted; with platform shelving that was used as sites for sleeping, eating, and working (fig. 3). The dead of Çatal Höyük were buried right under platforms of the homes. Although the houses of Çatal Höyük were decorated on the inside there were other buildings slightly...