The formation of Early Neolithic Communities in the Central Zagros: an 11,500 year old communal structure at Asiab

Tobias Richter, Hojjat Darabi, Sajjad Alibaigi, Amaia Arranz-Otaegui, Pernille Bangsgaard, Shokouh Khosravi, Lisa Maher, Peder Mortensen, Patrick Pedersen, Joe Roe, and Lisa Yeomans, 2021. The formation of Early Neolithic Communities in the Central Zagros: an 11,500 year old communal structure at Asiab. Oxford Journal of Archaeology, forthcoming.

Abstract

Early Neolithic communal buildings are known from a number of sites in the Levant and Anatolia, but none have been reported from the eastern Fertile Crescent. Based on renewed excavations at Asiab, a mid-10th millennium BCE settlement in the central Zagros, we argue that the principal structure at the site is an example of a communal building. Here we present a reevaluation of Robert Braidwood’s original 1960 excavations at the site in light of our recent results. In particular, we highlight key features of a large sunken feature at the base of the sequence, dating to c. 9700 BCE, which force its reinterpretation as a ‘special building’ requiring significant communal effort to construct. This extends the known range of communal buildings to the eastern Fertile Crescent and the earliest phase of the Neolithic. They must therefore be understood as a pan-regional phenomenon that was integral to the formation of communities at the dawn of agriculture.

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