Monumental – compared to what? A perspective from Göbekli Tepe

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Since the discovery of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic tower at Tell es-Sultan/Jericho in Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations, the importance of monumental structures for the development of complex societies has been the subject of some controversial debate. Archaeological fieldwork underway at Göbekli Tepe since the mid-1990s has fuelled these discussions, specif-ically concerning the role that large structures could have played in the development of Neolithic communities and hierarchies. This topic begs the question as to how to define monumentality in the context of Near Eastern Neolithic architecture. Were early Neolithic monumental structures merely exceptions from standard practice? Is it only the size that makes buildings monumental or is it perhaps the concepts behind the building and how the responsible communities perceived them? In some cases, the events that took place within these buildings were potentially more important than the structures themselves. For this reason, we should look to the role of monumental structures in the identity-building processes of communities and ask how built environments may have influenced the development of social complexity. This paper discusses relevant cases from different Neolithic sites in the Near East in light of the latest research results
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonumentalising Life in the Neolithic : Narratives of Change and Continuity
EditorsAnne Gebauer, Lasse Sorensen, Anna Teather, A. de Valera
Number of pages20
PublisherOxbow Books
Publication date2020
ISBN (Print)9781789254945
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Neolithic period, Neolithic Architecture, Göbekli Tepe, Anatolia, Archaeology, Stratigraphy, Radiocarbon age

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