Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Ritual and Ideology in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B of the Levant and Southeast Anatolia

Marc  Verhoeven  a1
a1 Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University, PO Box 9515, NL 2300 RA Leiden, Netherlands;


The study of ritual is an important and indeed essential part of prehistoric archaeology, and is reported at several early Neolithic sites in the Levant and Anatolia. In this study, the evidence for ritual at five Pre-Pottery Neolithic B sites (‘Ain Ghazal, Kfar HaHoresh, Nevali Çori, Çayönü and Göbekli Tepe) is compared. This comparison serves as the basis for an interpretation which focuses on the ideology of PPNB ritual rather than on its social function. It is argued that there are four basic structuring principles in PPNB ritual and ideology: communality, dominant symbolism, vitality (including the notions of domestication, fecundity and life-force), and human–animal linkage. These concepts are related in an attempt to delineate the PPNB ritual system and the place of these specific sites therein.

(Received February 13 2002)
(Revised March 11 2002)

Key Words: ritual and archaeology; Pre-Pottery Neolithic B.