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4. Do violence and death act as the foci of transcendent religious experience during the transitions of the early Holocene in the Middle East, and are such themes central to the creation of social life in the first large agglomerations of people? With regard to this question, it proved important to separate the discussion of violence from that of death. (a) With regard to violence, it has long been assumed that the primary focus of symbolism at early village sites in the Middle East is a nurturing ‘mother goddess’ who embodies notions of birth and rebirth (see Chapter 2).

In Cognition and Material Culture: The Archaeology of Symbolic Storage, eds. C. Renfrew and C. Scarre. Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. , Eastwood, W. , Griffiths, H. , Lamb, H. , Leng, M. , Reed, M. , and Yi˘gitbas¸io˘glu, H. 1999. Chronology and stratigraphy of Late Quaternary sediments in the Konya Basin, Turkey: Results from the KOPAL Project. Quaternary Science Reviews, 18, 611–30. Schmidt, K. 2001. G¨obekli Tepe, Southeastern Turkey: A preliminary report on the 1995–1999 excavations.

Then suddenly in the 9th millennium BC at G¨obekli Tepe and then at Nevalı C ¸ ori in southeastern Turkey there are monumental monoliths within ceremonial structures and/or communal houses. On these huge stones are the carvings of an array of wild animals. The huge stones have human arms. The symbolic world of animal spirits is here dominated by human figures. 1). Cauvin (1994) discussed this increased importance of humans as relevant to the domination of animals necessary in animal domestication, and Helms (2003) provided a wider argument about the emergence of human divinities in relation to domestication.

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