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date: 22 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Beginning around 11,500 years ago, the Neolithic of the Near East encompassed some of the most profound and fundamental innovations in our species’ history. This included the establishment of the earliest sedentary villages, founded by food-producing communities who relied on wild and domesticated plants and animals for subsistence. Major changes were also seen in use of imagery, both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic, in concert with society’s struggle to control new structures of economy, social organization, and symbolism. This chapter explores how Near Eastern Neolithic figurine use changed through time, and considers how competing interpretive frameworks of phallocentrism and Goddess worship present alternative frameworks of understanding broader social meanings within these communities. Moreover, the frequency of objects, the design, and miniaturization of these objects provide insight into how Neolithic people deliberately created ambiguity and anonymity when they crafted anthropomorphic figurines.

Keywords: Neolithic, Near East, anthropomorphic figurines, phallocentrism, symbolism

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