Marc P.F Verhoeven

Winner Dissertation Prize 1999

An Archaeological Ethnography of a Neolithic Community. Space, Place and Social Relations in the Burnt Village at Tell Sabi Abyad, Syria

Supervisors: Prof. dr. S. Bottema, Dr. P.M.M.G. Akkermans
Nomination: Leiden University, Faculty of Archaeology

Report by the selection committee

This thesis systematically codes the plans of a large, complex excavation and the material found there. The author uses the data set produced in order to achieve a better understanding of the spatial and social organization of a village community in the early phase of agriculture. The power of his analysis is the explicit application of the neo-structuralist principle – as developed by the sociologists Anthony Giddens and Pierre Bourdieu – considering material culture as significant for the users. The results of this research, in which an extensive, high-quality data set is linked to modern theory, are exciting and original. A totally new picture is created of a community in which nomadic cattle breeders and sedentary farmers have developed a symbiotic relationship, with Tell Sabi Abyad as a shared base and staple. The study shows how various disciplines – archaeology, sociology and ethnography – can be fruitfully involved in the study of a Neolithic community.