Introduction

Archaeologists have studied the origins of food production in the Near East for over a hundred years. Since the inception of true interdisciplinaryprojects such as the Braidwood's pioneering Iraqi research (Braidwood and Howe 1960; Braidwood et al. 1983), our comprehension ofthe complex processes involved in this monumental adaptive shift have increased substantially. What is now emerging in some innovative contemporary research is systematic investigation not on the origins of domestic economies but on their consequences. In many ways, this is a more elusive topic than origin studies, since the archaeological signature of agricultural and herding impacts can be difficult to precisely define. Some researchers, however, have recently examined certain aspects of the profound social consequences of food production on Late Neolithic societies in the Levant, particularly at large sites such as 'Ain Ghazal in west-central Jordan. These investigations have shown that developments in Jordan differed considerably from those

ALAN H. SIMMONS • Department of Anthropology and Ethnic Studies, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-5012.

Life in Neolithic Farming Communities: Social Organization, Identity, and Differentiation, edited by Ian Kuijt. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 2000.

closer to the Mediterranean (Rollefson and Köhler-Rollefson 1992; Simmons 1995a; Simmons et al. 1988).

This research has demonstrated that the Late Neolithic was a turbulent time that witnessed major changes in many aspects of culture. While most studies have focused on the ecological and economic consequences of domestic subsistence strategies, it seems clear that social organization also must have been substantially affected. This, unfortunately, is difficult to directly demonstrate in the archaeological record. In this chapter I present some admittedly speculative scenarios that may have operated during this time, and discuss social as well as ecological and subsistence implications of these events.

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