Document Title

Comparing Near Eastern Neolithic Megasites and Soutwestern Pueblos: Population Size, Exceptionalism and Historical Trajectories

Department/School

Sociology and Anthropology

Abstract

Çatalhöyük and other Near Eastern Neolithic ‘megasites’ are commonly interpreted as exceptional because of their large size and early dates. In this paper, we question exceptional claims about the size and social organization of megasites like Çatalhöyük by comparing them to pueblos in the American Southwest. We argue that Çatalhöyük and other Near Eastern Neolithic megasites are better understood as large villages whose size, layout and social organization compare readily to many of the late prehispanic and historic-period pueblos in the American Southwest. We suggest that four factors contribute to disparate interpretations of structurally similar sites in the Near East and American Southwest: 1) surface architectural visibility; 2) different regional intellectual traditions that emphasize ‘micro’ versus ‘macro’ scale social organization; 3) a tendency toward overestimation in archaeological population estimates, especially when the ‘biggest’ or the ‘earliest’ sites are involved; and 4) perceptions of continuity with later time periods.

Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Cambridge Archaeological Journal

Publication Date

11-2018

Volume

28

Issue

4

Pages

647-663

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1017/S0959774318000276

Document Version

Publisher's version

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