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Persistent Place-Making in Prehistory: the Creation, Maintenance, and Transformation of an Epipalaeolithic Landscape

Abstract

Most archaeological projects today integrate, at least to some degree, how past people engaged with their surroundings, including both how they strategized resource use, organized technological production, or scheduled movements within a physical environment, as well as how they constructed cosmologies around or created symbolic connections to places in the landscape. However, there are a multitude of ways in which archaeologists approach the creation, maintenance, and transformation of human-landscape interrelationships. This paper explores some of these approaches for reconstructing the Epipalaeolithic (ca. 23,000–11,500 years BP) landscape of Southwest Asia, using macro- and microscale geoarchaeological approaches to examine how everyday practices leave traces of human-landscape interactions in northern and eastern Jordan. The case studies presented here demonstrate that these Epipalaeolithic groups engaged in complex and far-reaching social landscapes. Examination of the Early and Middle Epipalaeolithic (EP) highlights that the notion of “Neolithization” is somewhat misleading as many of the features we use to define this transition were already well-established patterns of behavior by the Neolithic. Instead, these features and practices were enacted within a hunter-gatherer world and worldview.

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