Intra- and intercommunal rituals in the Upper Mesopotamian Pre-Pottery Neolithic: The beginning of organized religion?

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Mardin Artuklu Üniversitesi Yayınları

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While a ‘faith system’ is mainly based on simple beliefs on certain supernatural forces, the ‘organized religion’ is characterized by a faith-based doctrine with standardize worships, a hierarchical structure, and organization of dogmatic rules and practices. Archaeologically the earliest belief system on supernatural forces dates back to 80,000 to 100,000 years BP. However, the senses of organized and inter-communal religious practices apparently evolved in Early Neolithic period, following the beginning of sedentary life throughout eleventh millennium BC. Since then, the ‘organized religion’ has been helping human individuals and different social groups to be valued parts of a greater “community”. Particularly different Early Neolithic sites in Southeast Anatolia including Körtik Tepe, Göbeklitepe, Hasankeyif Höyük, Nevali Çori and Çayönü Tepesi, along with some other contemporary sites in northern Syria, present the sign of inter-communal and regional-scale rituals practices, continued for millennia. People in these early sedentary villages often constructed large, round and subterranean cult buildings. Sometimes they were built with carved upright stone slabs, decorated with friezes of triangles, undulating lines, human figures, raptors, different types of dangerous animals as well as hybrid creatures of half human and half animal. Being the communal rather than individual or household interest—these spiritual centers became the focal points of group identities for over thousand years. Over time, these very early religious centers and sanctuaries became the promoter of inter-communal complex ritual systems, and the earliest form of ‘organized religion’. With the help of the examples of communal and inter-regional cult activities and symbolism at some of these remarkable archaeological sites, this study examines the position of Southeast Anatolia in the origin of ‘organized religion’ throughout the development of Neolithic culture in West Asia.


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Archaeology, Anthropology, Religion, Southeast Anatolia, Neolithic, Neolitik Dönem


Kavramlar ve Kuramlar: Düşünce Bilimleri

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Siddiq, A. B. & Özkaya, V. (2020). Intra- and intercommunal rituals in the Upper Mesopotamian Pre-Pottery Neolithic: The beginning of organized religion? In: Doru, M.N. & Gökdağ, K. (eds.), Kavramlar ve Kuramlar: Düşünce Bilimleri (Pp. 671-696). Mardin: Mardin Artuklu Üniversitesi Yayınları.