From caves to buildings in southwest Asia

Session Date: 
Oct 11, 2024

Hunting and foraging groups began to use caves as the first base-camps around 500,000 years ago in southwest Asia. From 120,000 years ago, both Homo sapiens and Neanderthals began to bury members of their groups in their base-camps, marking their historical relationship to (and cultural ownership of) repeatedly used places. Burial within the settlement or within the house became in increasingly important feature of the place-making and the making of social memory through the Neolithic period (9600-6000 BCE).

From around 22,000 BCE we can trace a trend toward reduced mobility and seasonal transhumance and, from around 13,000 BCE, permanent settlement. From the beginning of the Neolithic (from 9600 BCE) these first settled communities created and maintained built environments that were designs for social living and arenas for the rituals and ceremonies that sustained resilient communities. The transformed cultural niche was the prime example of “energized crowding”. Over the three and a half millennia of the Neolithic, it supported and facilitated exponential demographic, cultural, technical and economic growth.