Ppnc And Yarmukian Ritual And Social Structure

The PPNC period at 'Ain Ghazal introduces several major departures from PPNB ritual traditions, among several other sociocultural aspects (Rollefson 1990b; Rollefson and Kohler-Rollefson 1993).The most obvious of these is the suspension of decapitation of burials and its implications for public and private expression of ancestor veneration. Two isolated skulls have been found in PPNC contexts (one context should be described as transitional between the LPPNB and PPNC), although no decapitated skeletons have been found; for the moment, these skulls are being viewed as secondary burials. Second, although subfloor burials occurred in the earliest part of the PPNC, later the common location was in the courtyard, even though the reflooring of a house no longer included the expensive production of lime plaster. Third, the proportion of secondary burials in the PPNC indicates that a larger part of the population consisted of part-time residents of the village compared, at least, to the MPPNB period. This interpretation is supported by the spatially segregated dichotomy of PPNC architecture at 'Ain

Ghazal (Rollefson and Kohler-Rollefson 1993;Kafafi and Rollefson 1995). It also is evident that the population of 'Ain Ghazal had begun to decline markedly by the onset of the PPNC (Rollefson 1997). Fourth, the apparent decrease in the manufacture and use of figurines indicates that ritual involving the individual level of interaction with the spirit world decreased markedly. Shamans were probably still an important factor in the day-to-day life of PPNC residents, and perhaps they had taken over earlier personal accession to the spirit world. Finally, the apparently intentional inclusion of pig bones in the burial pits (presently they appear to be principally associated with secondary burials) may be indicative of a special relationship of incipient pastoralists with a symbol of nonpastoralist animals; that is, the burials include a symbol of solidarity between the ovicaprid pastoralists and the full-time resident farmers who husbanded pigs at the permanent settlement at 'Ain Ghazal.

The only remaining tie with PPNB traditions concerns the number of burials found beneath or near PPNC houses. Notably, there is no significant change in the sex of either subfloor or courtyard burials for the PPNC. Clearly, these individuals were still special members of the household, and a "common" cemetery (or other means of disposal) has not yet been found by our excavations. The PPNC temple/sanctuary is also relatively small, but in view of the large amount of labor spent in the construction of it and the massive terrace wall most likely it served the community at large.*

With the transition to the Yarmukian Pottery Neolithic, the burial "pattern," in its absence, might indicate that egalitarian treatment of the dead was commonplace. The unfound common cemetery (if it existed) may have included both primary and secondary burials, but such speculation is unproductive. Figurines from the Yarmukian period indicate that shamans were still plying their trade in terms of fertility or "mother protection," but none of the animal figurines indicate anything more special than possible toys or artistic exuberance. With the exception ofthe "public building," one could get the impression that ritual in any form played a minor role in the daily life ofthe Yarmukian residents of'Ain Ghazal, but the unique preservation of ritual objects made of organic material at Nahal Hemar (Bar-Yosef and Alon 1988) is a powerful caution against such an assumption.

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