Summary

Hallan Semi represents the remains of a fully sedentary group of hunter-gatherers on the threshold of food production. It also exhibits the basic socioeconomic and sociopolitical characteristics of a fully settled village society. This indicates that the basic structure of Neolithic society coalesced with the very beginnings of sedentary lifeways and did not develop in tandem with either the gradually increased reliance on food production or with the gradual elaboration of culture during the Neolithic.

Specifically, Hallan Semi exhibits a community layout that provides for some degree of individual privacy. This indirectly implies a significant departure from the generalized reciprocal sharing that characterizes mobile hunter-gatherer societies. Also, the formal tallies represented by the notched batons, whether they stand for things done or things given, indicate the formal recognition of individual social action and thus constitute another significant departure from the mobile hunting-gathering norm. In addition, Hallan £emi appears to contain public buildings representing the existence of sociopolitical groupings at the suprahousehold level. These represent still another departure from the mobile hunter-gatherer norm and would have functioned to, among other things, resolve conflicts and otherwise promote group cohesion in the context of a fully sedentary lifeway. Lastly, while the precise size of the Hallan Semi community is debatable, as was its precise sociopolitical organization, there is little doubt that it was a relatively small community, probably not much larger than what is thought to be typical of mobile hunting-gathering bands. This means that the above-described aspects of community organization were not a product of community size, suggesting that they were instead a direct product of sedentism.

Finally, there is evidence for public feasting. This evidence takes the form of the central activity area deposits themselves, with their bone and firecracked stone concentrations. It also takes the form of the formalized food preparation and consumption implicit in the stone bowls and sculpted pestles. Whether this feasting was for purposes of sociopolitical competition, building socioeconomic and sociopolitical ties with other neighboring communities, or some combination of the two is not clear. However, the latent hostility suggested to characterize the earliest stages of the shift to settled village life (cf. Rosenberg 1994, n.d), coupled with Hallan Cemi's apparent small size, the evidence for trade, etc., favor a cooperation fostering rather than competitive role for such feasting.

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