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Interpreting the Late Neolithic of Upper Mesopotamia

O. Nieuwenhuyse, R. Bernbeck, P. Akkermans, J. Rogasch (eds.)
520 p., 365 b/w ill., 220 x 280 mm, 2013
ISBN: 978-2-503-54001-6
Languages: English
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The times between the Neolithic and Urban revolutions in Mesopotamia have for a long time been interpreted as a period of stagnation. This volume is part of an emerging discourse that challenges such assumptions. Focussing upon the northern parts of ancient Western Asia, where most recent research has concentrated, an international group of researchers demonstrates that Upper Mesopotamia underwent complex historical changes that we just begin to grasp fully. The Late Neolithic was a critical phase of the history of the ancient Middle East. Authors investigate settlement patterns, practices of painting pottery, distributions of various raw materials, the role of craft industries, the emergence of seals and other issues from a variety of theoretical and practical questions. The book is a must-have for prehistorians working in the Near East, and a rich source of information for archaeologists working in other parts of the world.


Olivier Nieuwenhuyse is a Research Fellow at Leiden University and at the DAI-Berlin. His research focuses on reconstructions of landscape and prehistoric settlement and the meanings of material culture.

Reinhard Bernbeck is professor at the Freie Universität Berlin and Binghamton University, New York. His research focuses on critical assessments of ancient Western Asian prehistory and historical periods.

Peter Akkermans is professor at Leiden University. He is the director of the excavatons at Tell Sabi Abyad and had published widely on the prehistory of the ancient Near East.



"This is an enormously impressive volume that consigns to the waste bin any notion that the Late Neolithic in Upper Mesopotamia was an inconsequential period of stagnant inactivity between the PPNB and the Ubaid, between the origins of farming and of urbanism. Rather, the period emerges as diverse and complex, witnessing much dynamism and challenging many accepted assumptions. A hugely impressive compendium of papers transforms our vision of this time period. The papers are lively and diverse in terms of theory and perspective. Some deal more with excavation results and with microhistories, while others provide synthetic accounts. ‘Interpreting the Late Neolithic’ is a milestone in late prehistoric research of Western Asia."

Ian Hodder Dunlevie Family Professor in the Department of Anthropology of Stanford University, Director of the Stanford Archaeology Center, Stanford University

«La qualité de la publication dont on rend compte méritait bien qu’on l’attendit un peu. L’ouvrage, à la fois débat et synthèse, est stimulant par les idées qu’il agite, les cadres théoriques ou interprétatifs qu’il propose, et essentiel par les données nouvelles qu’il apporte. Sa parution, dans la période troublée que nous traversons, avec l’arrêt des activités de terrain sur de nombreux sites, lui confère un relief particulier (…) Faut-il trouver des points faibles à cet ouvrage magistral?» (Catherine Breniquet, dans Paléorient, 42.1, 2016, p. 210-212)

“The volume goes beyond simply a collection of papers, as it indeed succeeds in covering the main key topics and will thus be the “go to” publication to gain a quick up-to-date overview on specific questions. The book is well illustrated with black and white figures (…) The volume appears well balanced, discussing established research projects and more recent approaches; no other similar publication is available for the later Neolithic. The wide geographic and chronological scope of this volume will make it a frequented handbook for the experienced student and scholars in the field, and it should not be missing in archaeological libraries.” (Katharina Streit, in the American Journal of Archaeology, 120.3, July 2016)

Interest Classification:
Classics, Ancient History, Oriental Studies
Ancient history & archaeology: Africa & Asia
Palestine & Near East

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