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People and ground stone tools in the Zagros Neolithic - economic and social interpretations of the assemblage from Bestansur, Iraqi Kurdistan

Mudd, D. (2017) People and ground stone tools in the Zagros Neolithic - economic and social interpretations of the assemblage from Bestansur, Iraqi Kurdistan. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Recent research into ground stone technology has moved beyond the earlier typological approach of describing and classifying the artefact at the point when it entered the archaeological record, towards a perspective which studies the broader sequences of processes and activities by which people made, used, and deposited the artefacts. Most studies of Neolithic Zagros ground stone assemblages have not, until now, been subjected to these new approaches. My thesis analyses and interprets a ground stone assemblage (424 tools and 412 items of debitage and unworked stone) from the Early Neolithic settlement of Bestansur in the Central Zagros (Iraqu Kurdistan). It uses the 'object biography' approach to address these research aims. These are to find and interpret the whole life-history of the artefacts, to identify the characteristics of the people who made and engaged with them, and third, to explore the role of ground stone in the development of social process and relations in the Early Neolithic of the eastern Fertile Crescent, particularly in quotidian and ritual processes such as commensality and funerary practice. The thesis reviews the development of ground stone research in the Neolithic Zagros. It uses the modern techniques of usewear and residue analysis, and draws on ethnographic studies to interpret the role and significance of ground stone in Neolithic Bestansur. In answering these research questions, it shows how ground stone artefacts afforded technological solutions to many problems associated with the development of settled residential life, exploiting the cultivation of plants and the management of animals, and new and more complex social practice and structures, the key changes of the Neolithic in southwest Asia. It also concludes that the presence or absence of ground stone tools can be used to illustrate past processes of abandonment of buildings and settlements.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Matthews, R. and Matthews, W.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Archaeology, Geography & Environmental Science
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Archaeology
ID Code:71393
Date on Title Page:2016


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