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The Neolithic Period: Triumphs of Architecture, Agriculture, and Art

The impressive list of the achievements of the Neolithic of the southern Levant encompasses village life, crop domestication, ceramic technology, and life-like plaster sculpture. Together, these "revolutions" (V. Gordon Childe) make the period one of the most attractive and compelling objects of archaeological inquiry. Moreover, the study of the Neolithic takes place at the busy intellectual cross-roads of biblical archaeologists, prehistorians, biologists, and even climatologists. While the conversation between all these disciplines seems sometimes out of reach-for example, prehistorians often have a distaste for pottery, while biblical archaeologists typically care little for lithics- recent researchers have begun to create a wholistic portrait of this fascinating period which contributed so much to the future of Asia, Europe, and Africa. Ted Banning defty reviews the complexities of chronological terminology, surveys the critical Neolithic sites-including Jericho, Sha˓ar ha-Golan, Wadi Rabah, Munḥata, Beidha, and ˓Ain Ghazal-and portrays the latest findings of paleoenvironmental studies. Banning then offers synopses of Neolithic technology, economy, settlement pattern, social organization, and ideology and caps off his review with a discussion of controversies and research directions. A thread of awe for the inspiring triumphs of the Neolithic peoples of Palestine runs through Banning's succinct characterizations of lithics, pyrotechnology, architecture, and burial practices.