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Title: Archaeology, ethnography and the Bible: the skull quest and magic in Pre-pottery Neolithic of the Near East as stimulus to a sedentary way of life


Wierciński, Mateusz

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Archaeologia Polona Vol. 44 (2006)


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences

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24 cm


The special treatment of human skulls, along with secondary burial methods, seems to be a common feature connected with the first steps into the sedentary style of life (based on finds at Natufian and Pre-pottery Neolithic sites in the Near East). In order to explain this shift, one needs to have a general model for human nature, along with a concept of life strategies in a hunting-and-gathering society interwoven with the shamanic world-view (A. Wierciński 1994). The purpose of the communication is to provide a better understanding of the magical uses for a human head or skull. The second view is from the ethnography of the South Asian societies, which practiced head-hunting. Although an analogy to the "head-hunting" phenomenon is not new, it is used here to show strong symbolic associations with the motifs around the biblical stories of Cain and Nimrod and the quest for the first "cities". In this comparative study I conclude that the initial stage of the process of Neolithisation could be the settling down of some hunters who had been expelled from their own society due to their practices of particularly aggressive magic. Consequently, plant cultivation and other changes in the sources of food appear more as a necessity of life of such "refugees" rather than an effect of a chance sowing interacting favourably with climatic factors


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Archaeologia Polona



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