Because of the climate and the nature of the sites, most archaeological material in the Near East has survived the passage of time in a reasonably well preserved state (at least, until recent decades). It remains true, however, that occasional deposits with exceptional preservation provide a level of detail that opens up new areas of interpretation to archaeologists. The classic examples are, perhaps, Çatalhöyük and Nahal Hemar. The ‘Burnt Village’ at Sabi Abyad is proving to be another where the new evidence is leading to a series of publications offering interpretations of the settlement which will have profound implications for our perception of the late Neolithic in northern Mesopotamia. This stimulating article amplifies one area of discussion, attempting to bring some of the most striking features of the ‘Burnt Village’ into a single, unified interpretation. Importantly, this unified interpretation draws on a range of contemporary approaches to understanding the past and, given the tendency of near eastern archaeologists to function in a degree of isolation from wider archaeological trends, this article is to be particularly welcomed. Inevitably it can be criticised in certain areas and it might have gone further in others but these comments start from the basis of welcoming, enjoying and being stimulated by this piece of work.