Organizational Complexityand Sedentary Societies

The increased complexity typically evident in the social systems of sedentary hunter-gatherer and simple food-producing societies is largely due to two departures from typical mobile hunter-gatherer norms. The first is surplus collection or production, minimally on a seasonal basis, in the context of some form of delayed return system (cf. Woodburn 1980, 1982, 1988; Southall 1988;see also Byrd 1994).These seasonal surpluses, when coupled with storage, are what typically permit year-round occupation of a site to begin with (see Cohen 1985; Price and Brown 1985;Redding 1988;Testart 1982). Such temporary surpluses, to the degree that they are not fully consumed within the annual subsistence cycle that created them, have the potential to become true surpluses. Thus, they become potentially available for other socioeconomic and sociopolitical purposes, such as those suggested by Hayden (1990, 1992).

The second departure is the institutionalization of (subsistence) resource-related ownership systems, a prerequisite for the establishment of delayed return systems, such as necessary for storage, not to mention food production (Rosenberg 1990). The initial establishment of such (ownership based) delayed return systems will tend to precipitate the collapse of the social systems that make a mobile hunting-gathering adaptation functionally possible (Chapter 2, this volume; Rosenberg 1990,1994b;Yellen 1985: 47-48) — ones characterized by high group and individual mobility, immediate returns, and resource sharing based on generalized reciprocity, etc. This collapse perforce leads to the rapid development of new socioeconomic and sociopolitical structures that can accommodate the concept of subsistence resources as property and incidentally make a sedentary lifeway functionally possible. As ably summarized by Byrd (1994:642), these would of necessity include new, more formal socioeconomic structures, presumably based on at least some degree of balanced reciprocity. These new institutions would function to integrate the multiple, new, individually more restrictive social networks for sharing production and consumption that replace the now-defunct single, all-embracing generalized reciprocal system characteristic of mobile hunter-gatherer groups (cf. Flannery 1972b;

Netting 1990; Plog 1990; Wilson 1988; Winterhalder 1990). Also included would be new sociopolitical structures that function to more effectively resolve conflicts within the typically larger and, of necessity, generally more stable groups that characterize village systems (cf. Adler and Wilshusen 1990;Flannery 1972b;Wilson 1988). Lastly, implicit in the existence of any such new structures is the existence of new superstructural elements that symbolize and legitimize the new structures, as well as function to further integrate the various social elements of the community as a whole. The territoriality/ownership statements implicit in many mortuary practices (cf. Saxe 1970; Goldstein 1976) are just one potential case in point.


Hallan £emi is situated at an altitude of ca. 640 m on the west bank of the Sason Cayi, a tributary of the Batman £ayi and the Tigris, respectively. It is a small, roughly 4.3-mhigh mound, about 0.7 ha in area, of which less than 0.5 ha is covered by an aceramic occupation dating to the last few hundred years of the eleventh millennium bp (uncalibrated). To date, approximately 750 m2 of this aceramic occupation have been exposed to depths of between about 0.5 and 3 m. Though at least four building levels are known to exist, architectural remains from only the uppermost three have thus far been excavated to any meaningful degree (Figure 1).The site was apparently occupied year-round (Rosenberg 1994a:130).

The economy of the site's inhabitants was based primarily on hunting and gathering. Almonds, pistachios, and pulses were apparently the most intensively utilized wild plant resources. Wild sheep and deer were the most intensively utilized animal resources, constituting ca. 36% and 27%, respectively, of the mammalian remains in the faunal assemblage. Sheep/ goat remains collectively constitute ca. 43% ofthe mammalian bone. Among those bones types where the difference between sheep and goats can be distinguished, sheep outnumber goats by about 6:1. On the assumption that the ratio of sheep to goats in these particular categories of bone is representative of the larger body of sheep/goat bone, sheep constitute ca. 36% of the mammalianbone in the faunal assemblage. Pig was a significantlysmaller component of their meat diet, constituting only ca. 12% of the mammalian remains. However, judging from the molar sizes (cf. Flannery 1982),butch-ering patterns, sex ratios, and survivorship curves, the site's inhabitants engaged in some degree of pig husbandry by at least the last building level (see Redding n.d.;Rosenberg et al. 1995:5).

In the three uppermost building levels (and very likely in the fourth as well) the spatial layout of the community consisted of a variety of structures

and features arranged around an open central activity area over 15 m in diameter. This central area is devoid of architectural features. It is also generally devoid of large-scale food preparation equipment such as stone mortars and grinding slabs,while such hand-held grinding stones as do occur in this area tend to be fire-cracked. The deposits in this open central area are generally characterized by inordinately dense concentrations of animal bone and fire-cracked river pebbles/cobbles. The animal bone in this area is often in the form of large, still-articulated portions of animal carcasses and includes a linear arrangement of three sheep crania on one of the surfaces associated with the uppermost building level. What fragmentation the bones from this area generally exhibit is more a product of postdepositional processes (most commonly excavation) than of the processes that lead to their deposition. This contrasts with the generally more fragmentary nature of the bone found in the surrounding areas. The central activity area is surrounded by a variety of features, including curvilinear structures and circular platforms. The recognizable (i.e., stone) structures vary in size and construction, in some respects by building level. Storage pits are apparently absent in all levels of the site, as are human burials.

A total of four recognizable stone structures is thus far known from the uppermost building level (1) and all utilized sandstone slabs to one degree or another in their construction. Two of them are relatively small surface structures (Figure 1C,D), about 2.5 m in diameter, and U- or C-shaped in configuration. In the case of both these two small stone structures, all that remains is one course of sandstone slab orthostats enclosing an area that, in at least the case of one, contained a poorly preserved plaster feature that is presumably a hearth, such as are known from better preserved structures in the lower building levels. A feature that may represent a small, clay-walled surface structure is also known from this level, but will be omitted from further discussion at this time due to its uncertain status. It is, however, similar in size and configuration to these smaller stone structures.

The remaining two stone structures attributable to this building level are larger (between 5 and 6 m in diameter), fully circular, and semisubterranean in their construction (Figure lA, B). In both cases, walls constructed of sandstone slabs lined the pit portion of the house and extended up beyond it. Within the pit portion, these walls were constructed of flat-lying coursed slabs and orthostats, alone or in combination. The freestanding above-ground portions of the walls were uniformly of coursed slab construction. Regularly spaced gaps in the walls presumably held roof supports; a small stone feature in the center of each floor may have been a foundation for a central support. Other interior features included plaster hearths on the floors and semicircular stone benches/platforms against the walls. In contrast to the smaller structures, the floor surfaces within these two structures were finished with a thin sand and plaster mixture and were each resurfaced multiple times (Figure 2).

Both plant and animal remains (skulls and antlers aside) were very sparse within the two larger structures, as were objects that could reasonably be interpreted as ground stone food processing equipment. On the other hand, copper ore (presumably used for pigment) does occur at the site, and virtually all the fragments of copper ore thus far discovered were found in and around these two semisubterranean structures. Also, the two largest obsidian blade cores thus far found were discovered on a surface within one of these structures (Figure 1A) in association with the only clearly identifiable obsidian knapping area thus far identified in the entire site. The copper ore and obsidian were imported materials, something that limited their availability but made them relatively valuable (Rosenberg 1994c).

Also found within the same (i.e., Figure 1A) semisubterranean structure as the relatively large obsidian cores was a complete aurochs skull (sans mandible) that appears to have once hung on its north wall, facing the entrance (see Rosenberg 1994a). This skull aside, bovid remains are apparently absent among the faunal remains (see Rosenberg et al. 1995), meaning that for whatever reason bovids were very rarely if ever actually used as a food animal. This, coupled with its position, strongly suggests that the above-

Figure 2. Large semisubterranean structure (A) in building level 1.

mentioned aurochs skull had symbolic significance. Several partially preserved sheep skulls and several deer antlers were found on surfaces in the other semisubterranean structure; unfortunately, it is not clear whether they too once hung on the walls of that building.

Four recognizable structures are thus far known from building level 2. The upper part of a possible fifth (Figure 1E) structure has also been excavated, but little can yet be said about it beyond the fact that its walls are constructed in the same fashion as the other four. The four structures that have been excavated down to their floors are all surface structures, with walls constructed of river pebbles/cobbles cemented in courses with a white plaster-type substance. Three of these four level 2 structures are cut by the level 1 semisubterranean structures, making it unclear whether they were fully circular or C-shaped (Figure 1F,G, H). All three of these structures had floors paved with closely fitted sandstone slabs. These three structures varied in diameter from ca. 4 to ca. 2 m and none appeared to contain raised plaster hearths. In the case of the two smaller ones (Figure 1G, H), this may be a product of preservation, as the floors were only partially preserved. In the case of the largest (Figure 1F),this may be due to the obscuring effect of the plaster-stone debris that covered the paved surface. It was produced when this structure'swalls were leveled—it appears purposefully—preparatory to the construction of the level 1 semisubterranean structures. This largest paved structure, however, did have a plaster-lined depression at its center. No other clearly recognizable features were evident on the floors of these three structures. The fourth building level 2 structure (Figure 1J)is clearly C-shaped and ca. 3 m in diameter. It was located across the central activity area from the three above-described buildings. It did not have a stone-paved floor and it did contain a raised plaster hearth.

Three recognizable structures attributable to building level 3 are known thus far (Figure 1K,L, M), though only one fell completely within the excavation and building L was very poorly preserved and may be associated with level 2. All three are surface structures, about 2 m in diameter, with walls constructed in the same fashion as the level 2 structures. All three are apparently C-shaped and their floors are unpaved. No plaster hearths were noted, but this could be a product of partial excavation or poor preservation. In addition to the recognizable stone structures and exterior to them are several expanses of thick plaster that are clearly surfaces. They occur in all levels and, as found, are of varying sizes and configurations. Some are associated with one or more recognizable postholes; others are not. Also, some clearly abut the known stone structures and may represent sheltered extensions or exterior activity areas; others are just as clearly not associated with any of the stone Structures. These latter surfaces may or may not represent the interiors of freestanding structures made of materials less durable than stone.

The structures aside, circular platforms also occur at the site (Figure 3). These platforms average about 40 cm in preserved height and vary in diameter from slightly under 1 m to almost 2 m. They are constructed of stone, packed mud, or a plaster like material. The stone examples are often mud-plastered and constructed of either solid stone or a stone exterior enclosing earth fill. The function of these circular platforms remains unclear. However, Hallan £emi was clearly occupied year-round and, as noted, storage pits are absent. Year-round occupation of the site almost certainly required some kind of storage facilities.Thus,for the moment, the most plausible explanation for these platforms is that they are the foundations for silos or similar such above-ground storage facilities. If, as it appears, pigs were kept at the site, the penchant pigs have for rooting around in the ground makes such above-ground storage facilities a very sensible alternative to storage pits.

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