Ritual Practices in Neolithic Levant, Mesopotamia, Near East Essay

2058 Words Jun 20th, 2013 9 Pages
Changes of Ritual Practices in Neolithic Levant Throughout Mesopotamian history humans found ways of relating to the world through the environment and supernatural entities. When we study the relationship Mesopotamians had with their world, we see a symbolic system of communication that developed from ideology and belief systems. These symbolic systems of communication can be called “rituals”, which were created differently in different areas and time periods, and which were always changing. As defined by Firth (1951), ritual is “a kind of patterned activity oriented towards the control of human affairs, primarily symbolic in character with a non-empirical referent, and as a rule socially sanctioned” (p. 222). Using archeological …show more content…
Human figurines have also been found in different contexts. The most common identifiable form from PPNA is a anthropomorphic ‘fertility’ figure. These figurines may have been symbolic guardians for women during their most dangerous years, pregnancy and birth (Rollefson, 2000, p. 167). The roles of ritual activities included more than mortuary practices and figurines, however those are examples that have been identified in many Levantine sites.

Rituals over time
The site of ‘Ain Ghazal is a great way to analyze the changes in Neolithic ritual practices that occurred throughout different periods because the site was continuously inhabited for more than 2,000 years. The site saw four major phases of development: MPPNB, LPPNB, PPNC, and Yarmukian PN. The dramatic changes due to a growing population of farmers and herders in this area in the PPNA forced the community to adapt through cultural/social organization and management. One way we see these social adaptions is through changes in ritual practices.
A wealth of material from MPPNB has been found related to ritual. Earlier Levantine traditions were maintained while amplifications occurred to accommodate the rapid growth during the late ninth and early eighth millennia (Rollefson, 2000, p. 185). From the use of figurines to burial practices and skull decorations (discussed earlier), Rollefson (2000) says there were (at least) three hierarchal levels in the settlement which “reflect to some degree the

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