Organization of Design Space on Vessels

Although Wadi Raba pottery assemblages are consistently fragmented, observations of the sherds and published reconstructions permit us to examine the meaning(s) of these objects on the basis of ethnographic studies such as (Douglas 1966) and place them into an interpretive context. Decoration appears to occupy horizontal bands around the rim, neck, shoulder, or carinated "waist"of vessels. One heavily decorated area of the vessel is the "handle" (sometimes up to 50%; Eyal personal communication). The most consistently decorated area, however, is the vessel rim (some 60%), and of these the most common decoration is a painted red band around the 'mouth'hinting at the use of red color/blood around an "orifice"of a "pot/

woman." Ifwe extend Barley's (1994) research on African pottery (in "speaking with pots" logic), then this orifice can be interpreted as a menstruating vulva.

On vessels of both the Yarmukian and Wadi Raba assemblages are found appendages, which we regard as small plastic shapes for symbolic information rather than serving some practical carrying function (Orrelle 1993). We suggest that these might mirror images of bodily appendages resembling fleshy flaps surrounding orifices such as ears, noses, and mouths, which incorporate triangular and oval vulva-like shapes. Very often in folklore, magic and superstition, ears, noses, and mouths have great symbolic significance as entrances to the body—orifices of the pot/woman, or the social body as it may represent, and they are likened to vulvae (e.g., Lewis 1980), although see Orrelle (1993) for a consideration of the difficulties of applying folklore or popular 'magical' interpretations in an archaeological context. The high degree cf "orificeelaboration" could well relate to issues concerning access to the woman/social body—to different patterns of marriage arrangements (see Orrelle 1993).

A marked change in the decoration from the Yarmukian to the Wadi Raba assemblage is the sharp reduction of synchronous triangles and V patterns and raises a number of questions. It is possible, for example, that the decorative transition from the Yarmukian triangle/vulvae arranged in a unified pattern to the single isolated, Wadi Raba vulva symbols on the woman pot, represent a deliberately altered use of the vulva symbol from one of solidarity to one of isolation. By extension this may imply that the view of menstruation changed from one of empowering to that of polluting. Moreover, we believe that the replacement of a dominant pattern of Yarmukian synchronized red triangles on the "woman" vessel, with a pattern of the division into horizontally demarcated symbolic space on the Wadi Raba vessels also may have been linked to a reorganization of a woman's rights, roles, and position within Pottery Neolithic communities.

In sum, we argue that these vessels of clay, in the Pottery Neolithic cultures, traditionally identified with the female body and by definition with the social body (Barley 1994:136;Welbourn 1984,1989),acted as a kind of blueprint onto which the norms and beliefs of society were displayed and that were expressions of restrictions and guidelines of social behavior for the Yarmukian and Wadi Raba cultures. We suggest that Yarmukian imagery indicates a number of processes in action: some linked with the reestablishment of a cohesive society after a degree of dispersement, and others associated with the needs of the new economy in which reproduction was of central importance (Gopher and Orrelle 1996).

What, then, might be the role of the pottery assemblage in these communities? In horticultural/pastoral economies, the demands for labor are clearly felt, and, thus, an imagery in which genital symbolism is central might indicate tightening controls of women's rights, labor and offspring. Women themselves would have had an added workload and different scheduling from agricultural duties to child care. Naveh (1996) illustrates such a trend through the changing context of processing activities in Yarmukian and Wadi Raba strata of the Nahal Zehora II village. In the Yarmukian, pounding/grinding activities were conducted outside of the houses in a seemingly communal open space, while in the Wadi Raba it seems to have moved to a more isolated single household context. It is possible that this hints at females becoming increasingly isolated from each other, and the symbolic elaboration of Yarmukian pottery vessels may have been related to this. The ceramic repertoire of Wadi Raba contains a rich decorated element and has an overall greater diversity of shapes and forms and is more plentiful than in the Yarmukian. The symbols of menstrual rituals, the red color, the V motifs, and the lunate shapes still persist but are not now so dominant as they were in the Yarmukian.

Orrelle (1993) has likened the pottery assemblage found in the Wadi Raba culture to the "grid" of society (Miller 1985; Douglas 1966). Douglas suggests that in small pre-industrial societies, personal relations are structured by two independent variables—theelationship of an individual with her/his group, a bounded unit contained in space, known by a common name sharing a common interest in property, and her/his position on a grid, which controls the flow of behavior within the group to the extent that roles within it are allocated according to various principles such as sex age and seniority. The notion of group encompasses a vast range of allegiances from the lowest possible associations to the most tightly knit closed groups. The temporal dimension of people's association and range of permanence, of boundedness is also expressed in this concept. Included in the internal group organization are the forms of structures, such as hierarchy of command and delegation of responsibility from the center, all of which can be envisioned as a social grid. This grid may also express the extent to which an individual may or may not be bound in different ways-to what extent they are constrained by gender, age, or hierarchy. In such societies, social codes and ideology are likely to carry over into the creation of the material world. Using the principle of symbolic replication of a social state, Miller (1985) traced appropriateness between symbolic forms and social forms in Dangawara pottery and shows how even the most trivial codes can be articulated with almost any other aspect of conceptualization.

Assuming that pottery is used in such a way and that Wadi Raba vessels still symbolize women'sbodies and the social body, then this provides us a material means of attempting to interprete social relations in these communities. Specifically, we relate the decoration (brown, black, and red slips burnished to a high lustrous glaze with raised incisions) on Neolithic pots to rubbed-in fat and mud mixtures and cicatrices embossed on women and pots and cattle in modern African contexts (e.g., Barley 1994; Welbourn 1989),with these decorative features serving as metaphors relating women to the cattle in which marriages were validated and social roles were established. In this context, the decorations on pots may have served as means of communicating the value of women within communities,and these changes ultimately represent changes in the ritual uses and meanings of symbols associated with menstruation. In this light women, cattle, and pots can be envisioned as being embedded in a grid of a horticultural/agricultural pastoral society, where an increasingly powerful gerontocracy accumulated resources, later expressed in the emergence of social differentiation.

Does the appearance of clay images of domesticated animals in the Pottery Neolithic fit into this scheme? One possible link is that this structural grid of female resource and bovine, and other animal capital, formed a social mesh upon which relations were built, and variations within it led to the development of local archaeological cultures. When one observes the archaeological cultures of the eighth to fifth millennia bp, the Yarmukian, Lodian, Wadi Raba, and the Ghassulian, one cannot but notice the ever increasing variation in the scale and material expression. In social terms, this may reflect the existence of successful exchange systems in which neighbors exchange women and livestock to gain access to vital resources such as land, water, and grazing pastures. Collectively, this raises the possibility that Early Pottery Neolithic communities envisioned social relations from the perspective of control of reproductive resource within society and focused on young women. In such a system young men may have been bound in debt to their older kin, forced to find livestock for bride-price to acquire a wife, bound in debt to elder males accumulating power and authority through feasting and control of grain, cloth, and other goods (Orrelle 1993:133). It is possible, then, that some of the difference between the Yarmukian and the Wadi Raba symbolic assemblages can be viewed as contests over ritual power, access to resources, and control of progeny. If this is the case, then the seemingly sparse imagery but highly homogenous pottery decoration of the Wadi Raba culture may indicate the resolution of these tensions.

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