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Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758

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Journal of Anthropological Archaeology

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Architecture as material culture: Building form and materiality

in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic of Anatolia and Levant
Serena Love
School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Australia

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: Mudbrick technology and permanent architecture are Neolithic hallmarks but their origins are not well
Received 5 November 2012 understood. By adopting a symmetrical approach to the examination of building materials, and contex-
Revision received 17 April 2013 tualizing these materials within a cultural knowledge of resources and other concurrent social practices,
Available online 21 June 2013
this paper challenges environmentally determined approaches to explain the adoption of mudbrick tech-
nology during the PPNA in Anatolia, Upper Euphrates and the Levant. This research illustrates the weak
Keywords: correlation between architectural form and building material, suggesting that although nature provides
resources, it is culture that dictates architectural form and material use. It is argued that the human-con-
structed environment became normalized throughout the PPNA and the social complexities of village life
Anatolia created a conceptual shift towards an articial environment, supported by other changes in symbolic
Material culture behavior. If building materials, such as mudbricks, were considered objects reexive of human behavior,
Materiality then we can access the complex and entangled relationship between people and things. Furthermore, the
atalhyk choice of building materials and their use in architecture can be considered codes of social practice and
Microartifacts even ideology. As material culture, architecture becomes a metaphor for human engagement and sym-
Levant bolic communication.
2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

pre-fabricated building materials, specically the mudbrick. While

domestic architecture may not have been a Neolithic invention, the
Indeed, the archaeological record makes it look almost as though
use of pre-fabricated building materials, such as mudbricks, was
the idea of mud-brick manufacture descended miraculously from
certainly a Neolithic hallmark.
heaven, and this alone demands some explanation (Hodges,
Neolithic social life is characterized by a dramatic increase in
1972: 525).
sedentism and village life, with signicant changes in the architec-
ture itself. Architectural change is typically thought to be moti-
Introduction vated either by the need for a new type of building or the
invention of new techniques (Schirmer, 1990). However, by situat-
Permanent domestic dwellings were common throughout the ing mudbrick production within a larger social sphere of Neolithic
Levant and Southwest Asia well before the Pre-Pottery Neolithic cultures, it becomes apparent that architectural changes, such as
A (ca 96008500 BC), but the adoption and implementation of structural shape from oval to rectangular, has little correlation
mudbrick technology was something new. The abundance of circu- with adoption of new building materials and is not entirely depen-
lar stone structures from the Epipaleolithic suggests that the origin dent on environmental conditions as previously assumed. Simi-
of architecture is no longer synonymous with the transition to the larly, the transition from subterranean structures to freestanding
Neolithic period (Watkins, 1990), and some even argue that there walls insufciently explains the appearance of mudbricks. I argue
was a well-established built environment by the Natuan and that materials do not dictate form nor is material selection exclu-
Harian cultures (Banning, 1996). The difference between Paleo- sively dictated by resource availability. By examining the interme-
lithic hunters and gatherers and later settled societies is perma- diary developments that precede mudbrick technology, using
nent architecture or what Wilson (1988: 57) terms an examples where stones and mudbricks were used together and
architecturally modied environment. Parallel with these archi- where (and when) clay balls and pis appear as mudbrick anteced-
tectural developments was an innovation in building materials, ents, it becomes clear that the adoption of this technology is not
from organic, readily available materials to the development of linear and lacks a single precedent. Despite resource availability,
several examples exist in Central Anatolia where choices of build-
ing materials prevail over resource practicality, thus dismissing the
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0278-4165/$ - see front matter 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758 747

environmentally-determinist notion that mudbrick manufacture 2000). Other examples of the early uses of mud were for internal
resulted from necessity, when stone-less regions were settled. features such as storage bins, hearths, benches and the lining of
I advocate that building materials, the types of materials used in pits. However, despite the various uses of clay during the Epipaleo-
prehistoric architecture are not only reections of available re- lithic in the Middle Euphrates region, no shaped, sun-dried mudb-
sources but also of specic and intentional cultural choices. Recent ricks or manufactured building materials appear before the PPNA
research on Neolithic architecture throughout Europe and South- (Biaki, 2003; Goring-Morris and Belfer-Cohen, 2008). The prac-
west Asia (e.g. Hoffman and Smyth, 2013) has established architec- tice of using mud continued sporadically throughout the PPNA
ture as material culture, where architecture can be considered an but at some sites in the Jordan Valley and Upper Euphrates, such
active participant in any society. This research aims to further as Jericho (Kenyon, 1981), Nemrik (Kozlowski and Kempisty,
these ideas by focusing on the fabric of the architecture, speci- 1990), and Mlefaat (Kozlowski, 1998), hand-shaped mudbricks be-
cally mudbricks, advocating that these materials be independently gin to replace stone for the construction of outer walls. The shift to
investigated and integrated with overall site interpretations. This mudbricks was subtle and gradual, appearing to move slowly north
approach combines material culture, materials properties, and to Central Anatolia during the Aceramic period at sites such as
materiality for a holistic interpretation of prehistoric architecture. Pnarbas and Boncuklu. Neolithic structures at Pnarbas were con-
I propose that as the human-constructed environment became structed with stones and pebbles set in a mud matrix, structures
normalized and social complexities of village life created a concep- with three courses of white marl blocks and a later deposit of mud-
tual shift towards an articial environment, supported by other brick collapse (Watkins, 1996) and Boncuklu house walls were
changes in symbolic behavior. Through an identication of the constructed with hand-molded plano-convex bricks (Baird, 2006).
underlying social conditions present in the greater region in asso- What motivated the transition from clay being used as secondary
ciation with mudbrick architecture, I attempt to create a different product to a principle product in architecture?
conceptual framework for understanding the parallel emergence of Mudbricks are often thought to appear at the end of a long tem-
mudbrick architecture and Neolithic social life. poral sequence, transitioning from eldstone, to worked stone and
The invention of mudbrick technology is situated within broad- wattle and daub (Goring Morris and Belfer-Cohen, 2008: 240).
er regional developments in material culture, food production and Intermediary stages of clay, pis (packed or rammed earth) and
ritual behavior. Increasing regional demographics and growing vil- hand-molded bricks all precede the arrival of standardized mold-
lage sizes may have provided the necessary labor to support initial formed bricks (Aurenche, 1993). Wright (1985: 26) suggests that
mudbrick manufacturing practices. Typically, Near Eastern domes- stacking stable lumps of clay to make storage bins, in the same
tic architecture has been studied as static and compared in terms manner of stones, contributed to the technological innovation be-
of temporal or regional typology (Banning and Byrd, 1987). How- hind mudbricks. When examining the hand-shaped hog-backed
ever, architecture is a dynamic component of material culture that mudbricks from Jericho, Wright (2003: 97, cf. Wright, 1985: 350)
should not be studied in isolation from other material assemblages. concludes, the appearance of the bricks suggests that they were
By exploring the temporal trajectory behind this historical devel- conceived originally as ersatz eld stones. Houses found under
opment in the Upper Euphrates, Levant and Anatolia, during the the PPNA layer at Jericho had walls constructed with very primi-
Epipaleolithic and PPNA, this paper questions the potential concep- tive bricks of balls of clay (Kenyon, 1981). The walls were built up
tual sources and, perhaps more important, examines the preceding with these clay balls, leading Kenyon to conclude that these balls
social conditions that contributed to the technological innovation of clay represent the most rudimentary form of bricks (1981:
behind mudbrick architecture. 224225).
A curious parallel is the simultaneous appearance of dressed
loaf-shape limestone, at Mureybet II and IIIB, Cheikh Hassan and
Historical development of mudbrick architecture Jerf el Ahmar, and cigar-shaped mudbricks at the PPNA sites of
Nemrik, Netiv Hagdud, Mlefaat and Jericho (Biaki, 1998). The
The most extensive use of clay throughout Anatolia is in archi- blocks were of the same shape, of a similar concept, but made from
tecture (Schmandt-Besserat, 1977), and the Neolithic has been different materials. Supercially, it would appear that the simulta-
called the Age of Clay (Stevanovic, 1997), but technologically it neous emergence of loaf-shaped limestone blocks and cigar-
is not clear why this practice was initially instituted. A change oc- shaped mudbricks supports Wrights (2003) idea that stones were
curred in the Neolithic that supported, and perhaps even encour- antecedents for mudbricks. However, it needs to be considered
aged, mudbrick technology such that it became the standard that these different brick types developed in distinct areas, one
building material in the region by the Early Bronze Age. The not always replacing the other.
domestication of plants and animals is a fundamental characteris- Further speculating on the motivations behind mudbrick tech-
tic of the Neolithic but also paramount to this period is the domes- nology, it is misleading to assume that a blanket adoption of mud-
tication of humans through architecture (Hodder, 1990; Wilson, brick building materials swept through the region, replacing stone
1988). Architectural developments paralleled the social develop- at every village site. Mudbrick technology was a regionally specic
ments of community life (Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef, 2000), and development and the process was not universal (Aurenche, 1993).
large-scale communal or ritual activities seen at sites such as Kfar Several contemporary PPNA sites in the region continue their
Hahoresh (Goring-Morris and Horwitz, 2007) and Gbelki Tepe building traditions in stone. For example, the Neolithic sites in Jor-
(Schmidt, 2011). Large villages began appearing throughout the dan never transition to mudbrick (Rollefson, 2001) arguably due to
Jordan Valley, Upper Euphrates and Anatolia, such as Jericho, Abu the ready availability of stone materials. Further north, Hallan
Hurerya and Cafer Hyk (Fig. 1), which dramatically and perma- emi and Neval ori continue to build in stone, while neighboring
nently altered the physical and social landscape during the Neo- sites, ayn and Cafer Hyk, transition to mudbricks. To the east,
lithic period. the northern Iraqi site of Gining had walls constructed entirely
As with any technological innovation, there are several ques- with pis (Campbell and Baird, 1990), Qermez Dere had subterra-
tions concerning the rst appearance of mudbricks. The use of clay nean structures with mud-plastered oors (Watkins, 1990), while
in architecture was known during the Epipaleolithic, as clay and the neighboring sites of Nemrik and Mlefaat transitioned to
mud mixtures were used as oor and wall plasters and as mortar mudbrick. Just in the same way that not all Natuan sites
for stone architecture (Biaki, 2003). Some of these early mud- transitioned to or embraced sedentism (Boyd, 2006), not all PPNA
plastered oors were painted red, such as Ain Mallaha (Byrd, villages transitioned to mudbrick architecture.
748 S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758

Fig. 1. Regional map of all sites mentioned in the text. Map by Jeff Depta.

The temporal development of building materials may rst ap- Neolithic transition. Initially, the change was attributed to house-
pear like a simple evolutionary progression, where the concept hold composition and social structure, where rectangular struc-
for mudbricks evolved from stone antecedents. However, this sim- tures increased the living space with internalized storage
plistic approach assumes humans were static agents reacting to facilities, independent food processing equipment and indoor prac-
external stimuli, imitating what was observed in stone. This pas- tice of domestic activities, designed to accommodate emerging
sive approach neglects human agency and denies technological concepts of nuclear families (Flannery, 1972). However, recent
innovation or creativity. Furthermore, there is an underlying analysis has shown little correlation between architectural form
assumption that these early Neolithic sites reect a monolithic and social structure (Banning, 1996; Steadman, 2004), based on re-
society with shared cultural traits, often using artistic representa- vised evidence of Natuan household compositions and ethno-
tions and iconography as supporting evidence (Cauvin, 2000): graphic observations from Pygmy, Navajo and Bedouin societies
more recent scholarship acknowledges the cultural complexity (Saidel, 1993). While it is mostly true that Epipaleolithic houses
and regional diversity present throughout the PPNA (e.g. Belfer- were semi-subterranean with some use of stone and PPNA houses
Cohen and Goring-Morris, 2010). The Neolithic interaction sphere were rectangular structures with free-standing mudbrick walls,
was large and elaborate (Asouti, 2006), with established long-dis- the division between these two types of architectural forms does
tance trade routes throughout the region (Carter et al., 2008), not neatly correlate with the types of building materials or the
where cultural traits were being shared along with goods and introduction of mudbrick technology.
materials (Watkins, 2008). It would seem more appropriate to as- The PPNA witnessed signicant architectural change from sub-
sume a greater cultural diversity throughout this region, rather terranean to structures with freestanding walls. Several sites with
than seeking uniformity. Such diversities would be directly re- subterranean and semi-subterranean structures lack pre-fabri-
ected in site-specic architectural traditions. The architectural cated building materials for the walls, such as Qermez Dere,
examples presented here illustrate subtleties and variations in Mureybet, Mlefaat and Phase I at Nemrik (Kozlowski and Kempi-
the different types of building materials, demonstrating the non- sty, 1990; Kozlowski, 1998). The architecture at these two sites is
linear and inconsistent transition from one material type to an- characterized by semi-subterranean structures which were dug
other. This inconsistency is also illustrated in the architectural out and often had oors and walls plastered with clay. It could
form. be suggested that this transition in form necessitated a change in
building materials but this conclusion is unfounded, as there is
Architectural form and building materials no correlation between freestanding walls and mudbricks. Simi-
larly, freestanding walls of ayn, Hallan emi and Neval ori
One common assumption regarding the adoption of mudbrick were all made of stone, and not mudbrick (see Table 1). In examin-
technology is the transition in architectural form from circular huts ing the Aceramic architecture of Southeast Anatolia, Biaki (1998)
to rectangular structures that occurs during the Epipaleolithic argues that the transition from circular to rectangular structures
S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758 749

Table 1
Regional and chronological documentation of sites illustrating the discrepancy between architectural form and type of building materials.

Date Site name Materials Shape Semi-subterranean Free standing walls

PPNA ayn Wattle-daub Circular x
Gbekli Tepe Stone Circular and rectangular x
Hallan emi Stone Rectangular x
Pinarbas Wattle-daub Circular x
Neval ori Stone Rectangular x
PPNB ayn Mudbrick on stone Rectangular x
Gritille Stone Rectangular x
Cafer Hyk Mudbrick Rectangular x
Upper Tigris
PPNA Qezem Dere Pise Circular x
Mlefaat Mudbrick Circular x
Nimrik Mudbrick Circular x
Ginning Pise Rectangular x
Upper Euphrates
PPNA Abu Huryera Mudbrick Rectangular x
Mureybet III Shaped stone Rectangular x
Jerf al-Ahmar Stone Circular and rectangular x
Tell Sabi Abyad Mudbrick on stone Rectangular x
Hatoula Mudbrick Circular x
Tell Aswad Pise Circular x
PPNB Tell Aswad Mudbrick Circular x
Tell Halula Mudrick Rectangulara x
Djade al-Mughara Stone Rectangular x
Tell Sabi Abyad Mudbrick Circular (tholi) x
Khirbet esh-Shenef Mudbrick Circular x
Jordan Valley
PPNA Dhra Mud and stone Circular x
Netiv Hagdud Mudbrick Circular x
Gesher Mudbrick Circular x
Jericho Mudbrick Rectangular x
PPNB Shkarat Msaied Stone Circularb
Biehda Stone Rectangularb x
Ain Ghazal Stone Rectangularb x
Basta Stone Rectangular x
Evidence of monumental stone wall.
Evidence of second storey.

afforded a change in building materials. However, Biakis argu- materials and increase doubt that materials enabled and afforded
ment fails to reconcile that the only site in this region to fully tran- the change in architectural form. Additionally, these examples
sition to mudbricks is Cafer Hyk; although the partial use of mud demonstrate how the rectangular form precedes the full adoption
at ayn, the neighboring sites of Neval ori and Hallan emi of mudbrick technology.
continue rectangular forms with stone materials. These examples demonstrate the common assumption that
The shift from circular stone structures to rectangular mudbrick materials are the sole determinant of architectural form. While
does not directly correlate with the adoption of mudbricks technol- materials make some forms possible, the availability and choice
ogy (Aurenche, 1993), since there are several examples of circular of materials will inuence the architectural form, not determine
structures made with mudbricks and rectangular structures built form (Rapoport, 1969; see also Johnson, 2010). Rapoport argues
with stone (Table 1). Furthermore, it has been well documented that construction and materials have relatively little effect on the
that building materials do not hinder or adversely inuence the ultimate form of a building. As the examples from Central Anatolia
shape or style of structure (Hodges, 1972; Oliver, 2003; Rapoport, will show (see below), there is little correlation between form and
1969). Circular structures constructed with mudbricks built during building materials (Table 2).
the PPNA have been found at Dhra (Kuijt and Mahasneh, 1998), The examples presented in these two tables demonstrate how
Jericho (Kenyon, 1981), Netiv Hagdud (Bar-Yosef and Gopher, the same materials produced different forms. Stone materials were
1997; Bar-Yosef et al., 1991), Gesher (Garnkel, 1989), Tell Aswad used to construct both round and rectangular houses, while mudb-
(Stordeur, 2010), Hatoula (Byrd, 2000), and at Nemrik (Kozlowski ricks were also used to construct both round and rectangular
and Kempisty, 1990) and Mlefaat (Kozlowski, 1998) in Northern houses. The built form possesses a certain degree of inuence in
Iraq. In Anatolia, oval shaped buildings were recently identied mediating behaviors, in time and space, and social actors will al-
in the earliest 9th millennium levels of Askl Hyk (Level 4) ways exert their individualism. Clearly, materials do not dictate
(zbasaran, 2012) and Baird (2006, 2008) has reported both pla- form.
no-convex and rectangular molded mudbricks in the oval buildings
at Boncuklu. Conversely, stone-built rectangular structures were
discovered at Ain Ghazal, Basta, Beidha, (Byrd, 2005), Baja, Hallan Environment and choice in Anatolia
emi and Neval ori in Southeastern Anatolia (zdogan, 1999;
Schirmer, 1990). These combined examples weaken arguments Having dismissed the relationship between architectural form
for a functional relationship between structural form and building and building materials, the relationship between environmental
750 S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758

Table 2
List of Central Anatolian sites, listed in westeast geographic order, chronicling the types different types of building materials and architectural forms. Dates from Yakar 2011.

setting and the use of materials will be explored, using examples requiring constant maintenance of mudbrick walls (Kuzucuoglu
from Central Anatolia. Given the surrounding availability, access comment in Duru (2002: 178)). Yet despite the heavy rainfall,
and abundance of natural resources, the examples below illustrate mudbrick was used throughout all 1000 years of Askls occupa-
discrepancies between resource availability and actual use, dem- tion sequence. Recently, a 20 cm thick deposit of silt was found
onstrating how informed choices prevail over pragmatics and separating Levels 2 and 3, with evidence of damaged buildings
undermine functionalist explanations for the selection of building and broken down mudbrick walls, which micromorphology work
materials. Since the intention of this paper is to challenge the re- suggests is indicative of prolonged standing water (zbasaran,
ceived wisdom that certain materials were used exclusively for 2012: 137). If this early settlement had been constructed with
practical reasons, this section demonstrates how the choice of stone, water damage could feasibly have been prevented. If the
building materials is not environmentally determined by resource people of Askl selected their building material based on environ-
availability. mental availability then it is far more logical and convenient to
Previous studies of Anatolian architecture have relied on envi- use stone than mud.
ronmentally-based explanations for the choice and use of specic A similar scenario presents itself in the neighboring site of
building materials (i.e. Duru, 1999, 2002; Esin, 1991; zdogan, Musular, 400 m west of Askl (Duru and zbasaran, 2005;
1999). Several authors agree that types of materials used in archi- zbasaran, 2000), where mudbrick architecture was built on a nat-
tecture were a direct result of the local environment, where re- ural bedrock foundation. Duru (2002) argues that the bedrock
source choice was restricted to abundance and availability foundation at Musular was intentionally selected because of the
(Braidwood and Braidwood, 1982; Woldring, 2002; Yakar, 1991). lessons learned from the Askl water damage. However, building
This discourse describes the form, function and fabric of architec- with mudbrick seems like a less cost-effective choice, when situ-
ture and how it was adapted from the surrounding environment, ated in stone-rich Cappadocia. The mudbrick tradition continued
yet multiple examples exist from Central Anatolia, such as Askl despite resource availability. The occupation at Musular could have
Hyk, Musular, Bademagac, Suberde and Eraba (see Fig. 1), that built out of stone, as it was abundant and easily available, assum-
illustrate the discrepancies between resource availability and ac- ing logic and convenience were principle motivators for prehistoric
tual use. builders. But they did not; they continued to build with mud.
The Aceramic site of Askl Hyk is situated in a stone-rich Clearly what we may deem as important and practical reasoning
landscape of western Cappadocia, where volcanic rocks are the was less important to the Neolithic people when they chose their
most abundant material. Duru (2002: 18) argues that the Capp- building materials.
adocian traditional architecture is an adaptation to the environ- Several sites in the Lake District, including Bademagac, Kur-
ment, given the local geology. However, although stone material uay, Suberde, and Erbaba, further undermine the environmen-
was easily available, abundant and accessible for architecture, tal-determinism approach to the selection of Neolithic building
the domestic architecture is exclusively constructed with mudb- materials. Bademagac was constructed entirely from mudbricks,
ricks, with a limited amount of stone in some non-domestic struc- despite being surrounded by mountains on all sides, lying 5 km
tures (Esin, 1991; Esin and Harmankaya, 1999; zbasaran, 1998, north of a natural gorge. In the Early Neolithic phase, the walls
2012). Situated in a predominately stony landscape, mudbricks had an unusual construction, where two rows of clay slabs seven
could be considered a greater labor investment, considering the to eight centimeters wide had been laid parallel with an interval
work involved in the initial manufacture and annual upkeep. between them which was then packed with earth (Duru, 1999:
Askl receives up to 385 mm of rainfall annually (Todd, 1980), 180). No stone foundations were found at Bademagac, instead,
S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758 751

the foundations consisted of several layers of straw-tempered in addition to quantities of water, vegetal stabilizers, and timbers.
mud. Given the mountainous location, stone was as equally avail- Aller and Aller (1948) estimates that 0.028 m3 of earth is needed to
able and accessible as mud yet the principle construction material make two bricks measuring 30  45  10 cm and Keefe (2005: 31,
was mudbrick. Similarly, the sites of Suberde and Kuruay, both lo- see also Clark, 2003) predicts that a single-story dwelling requires
cated near substantial lakes and stone outcrops, the primary build- between 125 and 150 tons of soil for the external and internal
ing material was mudbrick with a clay mortar, although stone walls. Considering that Mellaart (1967) exposed over 30 contem-
foundations are known (Bordaz, 1969; Duru, 1996). porary structures at atalhyk (Level VII/South M), the quantity
However, the opposite scenario is true at Erbaba, where the pri- of soil required just to construct all the houses in this small portion
mary construction material is limestone set in a mud mortar (Bor- of the site would exceed 1500 m3 or 4050 tons of soil. These gures
daz, 1969; Duru, 1996, 1999), despite being 1.5 km from Lake become more impressive, taking Stevanovics (2013) nding of a
Beysehir (Bordaz and Bordaz, 1982). A stone quarry was located second story in two buildings at atalhyk. In this regard, mud-
500 m southwest from the site leading Duru (1999: 183) to suggest brick architecture can be seen having greater impact than previ-
that stone represented a unique local practice attributed to its po- ously considered, not only for its permanence and scale but also
sition within the landscape. This statement again relies on the local as an investment of human and material resources.
availability of stone materials to explain the architecture, while
overlooking the proximity of Erbaba to a lake for potential clay re-
sources. The example from Erbaba represents a deliberate choice of Materiality of materials
one material over another, since quarrying stone had potential for
a larger labor investment than clay. These examples from Central Anatolia illustrate regional diver-
These Anatolian examples demonstrate that materials em- sity and the incongruence between resource availability and the
ployed in construction are not only indicative of what resources building materials used for Neolithic construction, further demon-
were available but also of deliberate choices. Throughout these strating the tenuous relationship between form, materials and
examples, a choice of building materials was always present, be environment. The materials employed in construction are not only
it stone, mud, reeds, timber or some combination thereof. The indicative of what resources were available but illustrate how cul-
types of available materials are just one of the many factors which ture has a more signicant impact on the built form and choice of
determine the set of possibilities available to the imagination of materials. Marcel Otte (comment in Duru (2002: 178)) favors the
the builder. Available building materials should be considered en- social and ideological use of materials by suggesting, it is just a
abling, as a set of resources, not simply as a set of limitations question of tradition and values deep inside their minds. Its not
(Johnson, 2010). Why are prehistoric builders constantly perceived a question of raw materials. Because the way of building is the
as being uncreative and limited by their resources, instead of way also of conceiving the self as a society and towards the oth-
inhabiting a bountiful landscape full of choice? Archaeological ers. This approach more appropriately places emphasis on cul-
interpretations have been strongly inuenced by capitalistic beliefs tural practices over resource availability.
that regard natural resources as commodities to be exploited (Boi- I advocate that more attention is needed on the actual building
vin, 2004; Tilley, 2004). And by the Biblical notion of mans domi- materials, where the fabric of a building becomes a subject for
nation over the earth implicitly underlying capitalist cosmology investigation. Recent research on the archaeology of architecture
(Gen.1: 26; Sahlins, 2000). Our understanding and relationship (e.g. Banning and Chazan, 2006; Steadman, 1996), in combination
with the physical environment is socially constructed (Evans, with developments integrating artifacts and materiality (Conneller,
2003; Ingold, 2012; Rival, 1998); how and why resources are used 2011; Hurcombe, 2007; Ingold, 2007; Jones, 2004) provides the
(or avoided) is cultural. necessary theoretical framework to illustrate how domestic archi-
The intentional selection of one material over another is socially tecture and associated material culture can act as a context for so-
informed. As Lucas (2001) suggests, nature provides the problem cial actions (Bailey and McFadyen, 2010; Parker Pearson and
and culture provides the solution. Technical choices are more rep- Richards, 1994; Riggs, 2001; Tringham, 1991). As the examples
resentative of social constraints than of the availability of types of from Anatolia have demonstrated, building materials receive dis-
materials (Chilton, 1999; Lemonnier, 1993; Sillar and Tite, 2000; proportionately small attention in contrast with assemblages of
Stark, 1998); thus social conditions have equal, if not greater, inu- Neolithic lithics, gurines, or plant, animal or human remains.
ence on the material outcome than do the type, availability or Understandably, the archaeological discourse is more focused on
abundance of raw materials. While acknowledging that prehistoric the use, arrangement and decoration of space, than the fabric of
builders were partially constrained by the types of suitable mate- the architecture itself. However, this is not to advocate for a study
rials with which to build, I argue that material choices and agency of architecture in isolation but rather a situated exploration that
should be given primacy over resource availability, maintaining includes every aspect of the phenomena that contribute to the
that the intentional selection of one material over another is so- materialization of its nal form (Turan, 1996).
cially informed. The residents of Erbaba could have built out of Considering architecture as material culture and integrating
mud but they chose stone. The Askl inhabitants could have built building materials with interpretations of the built environment
their houses using the local stone, but they chose mud. Each of and architectural space can help us to understand how people built
these choices in building materials are socially informed and not houses but also how houses also build people. It also allows access
a sole reection of environmental conditions. to this social sphere, with a tremendous potential to enhance our
Furthermore, it is often assumed that mudbrick architecture is understandings of Neolithic culture and society through material
somehow less impressive than stone monuments. But what if choices, technology, labor investments, craft specialization, territo-
mudbrick were considered just as much a symbolic and socially riality and ownership of resources (Love, 2012). For example, Riggs
meaningful expression as the movement of large stones? Evans (2001) studied the technical style and technological choices of
(2003: 72) proposes that deliberate movement of soil can be as builders at the Grasshopper Pueblo in the American Southwest
equally monumental when used to construct a large village, con- and was able to identify distinctions between ethnic groups that
sidering the sheer quantity of materials needed. Volumetrically, manifested in architectural differences among separate room
the construction of earthen architecture was a very signicant blocks. Thus, examining both the architectural features, technical
industry (Nodarou et al., 2008). For example, Matthews (2005) choices and material properties can contribute to larger social is-
estimates that a single house at atalhyk required 50 m3 of soil, sues. This approach becomes especially relevant when studying
752 S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758

sites with stratigraphy that span major social transitions, such as (following Ingold, 2007), then particular uses of clay can contribute
the Pre-Pottery to Pottery Neolithic or the Halaf period in northern to the meaning and function of the object. This is not to claim that
Syria (e.g. Akkermans and Schwartz, 2003). Not only did the shape all raw materials, such as stones, soil and trees, were active agents
of the architecture change but so did the technology of construc- imbued with free will, but to consider the possibility that culturally
tion, both of which are socially informed. specic meaning is attached or associated with raw materials that
A greater understanding of prehistoric architecture can be extends beyond practicality, without having to explicitly dene
achieved through a combined focus on material culture, materials, what that meaning is. Therefore, to hide clay under a blanket of
and materiality. As Vellinga (2007: 763) suggests it has become landscape is to deny part of its meaning, leaving part of the objects
clear that it is really no longer possible to study the house and biography untold.
understand its cultural meaning without looking at its material,
architectural aspects. The materiality of architecture can be
understood through the active position of objects that actively de- Creating an articial environment
nes subjects and explores both the practical and socio-symbolic
aspects of objects. The combined focus on architecture as material culture and the
One way to access the materiality of architecture is to examine symmetrical use of building materials can provide a new frame-
the quality of ceratin materials and to question the degree of inten- work to interpret Neolithic architecture. Shelter is a basic human
tionality. A buildings character is partially dictated by the types of need; however, towards the nal Epipaleolithic and early Neolithic,
materials used in its construction (Johnson, 2010; Morris, 2004; these basic shelters transitioned into articially constructed cul-
Norberg-Schulz, 1980). Textures of building materials physically tural environments that constituted a new way of living. Peoples
alter both the appearance and experience, even if all the materials relationship with one another changed with the construction of
originate from the same source. Evans (2003) suggests textures permanent structures and created spatial boundaries (Wilson,
help a person think: they are a medium for social agency and 1988), which irreversibly affected communities, altered percep-
expression". When thinking about inclusions added to pottery, tions and impacted social interactions, creating new situations
Evans suggests that all source materials have meaning because of and problems. Watkins (2004a: 105) argues, to live in a built envi-
their social context and reference, which is extended to include ronment is to inhabit a symbolic world at multiple levels. This hu-
waste material, such as midden. In fabric analysis, Evans empha- man-constructed environment became normalized during the
sizes that the way a material feels (how it crumbles, its consis- Neolithic, where permanent villages appeared with increasing reg-
tency, and the surface roughness) relates more closely to the ularity and the manufactured built world became an important
design and intent of the material than to its particle size. All this transition within the PPNA (Kuijt and Finlayson, 2009: 10969). I
speaks to deliberate and intentional mixing of materials to create suggest that the invention and implementation of pre-fabricated
certain feelings, textures and appearances. Perhaps this is how building materials, such as mudbricks, created an articial envi-
the different use of materials can be understood for Neolithic ronment, as well as creating physical, spatial boundaries.
architecture. A manufactured boundary between people may have been pres-
One venue to explore is out perceptions and categories concern- ent in the smaller, self-contained domestic units that characterize
ing differences between natural and cultural resources. House and some PPNA villages, in contrast with the semi-sedentary and large
village construction is not just about the transformation from nat- dwellings at open-aired Epipaleolithic sites. Boyd (2006: 171) ar-
ural materials into cultural objects. If we consider that nature is gues that a change in early Natuan architecture does not neces-
culturally dened (Ingold, 2012; Rosen, 2007; Tilley, 2004), then sarily reect a new social organization or a way of life but rather
the distinction between natural and cultural resources dissolves. represents a developing social technology that facilitated particu-
Everything in the so-called natural environment has been social- lar forms of understanding and action. Boyd suggests that the
ized (Bradley, 2000; Evans, 2003; Tilley, 1994), including the extensive use of stone xed Natuan people to certain locales
weather, sky, sun, moon, and stars (Ingold, 2007). Cultural knowl- and played a role in the creation of permanence, be it seasonally
edge is mindful of landscape, dictating both the selection of mate- or annually occupied, but he is cautious about assuming perma-
rials, and where and how materials are employed in the creation of nence or sedentism simply from the appearance of stone architec-
cultural objects. Environmental motivations might contribute to ture. Biaki (2003) suggests that living in rectangular, cubical
the selection of clay materials but I argue that the choices for clay boxes with at roofs and smooth walls is in opposition to the nat-
sources were initially socially informed and were already per- ural form. During the Neolithic, structures were no longer sunken
ceived as cultural through an embodied social knowledge (after into the earth and were now constructed with freestanding walls
Dobres, 2000, see also Bradley, 1998). Thus, material choice is more made with pre-fabricated materials. The overall Neolithic society
indicative of culture than it is of environmental conditions. moved away from an imitation of nature, to appropriating some-
The separation of culture from nature is distinctive of post- thing more articial, more constructed. For the rst time, a concept
Enlightenment, modernist thinking (Thomas, 2004). Following Ol- of manufactured may have been present. The invention and
sens (2003) symmetrical approach, the physical properties of implementation of mudbrick technology may have contributed to
materials can be considered alongside those of humans, plants the creation of an articial, or a fabricated society, one that no
and animals. To deny the inuence of materials on people assumes longer mimicked nature in form and materials, but rather blurred
materials are static and inert, ignoring the reciprocal inuence of the boundaries.
materials on people and dismissing material agency. Boivin The increasing commonality of the built environment during
(2004: 64) argues that material world itself is a long unrecognized the PPNA also created a cognitive shift from a house to a home
agent; this is not to over-animate raw materials by suggesting (Watkins, 1990, 1992, 2004a). Watkins advocates for altering our
that clays somehow possessed its own agency, but rather to sug- perception from the house as a shelter to the house as a home,
gest that materials were active in their unmodied, unaltered state characterized by repeated re-modeling, house elaboration and con-
(Bradley, 2000; Knappett and Malafouris, 2008). Therefore stant maintenance, treatment of the dead (in-house burials) and
so-called natural materials are inseparable from the cultural land- superimposed re-building phases. As is common at several Neo-
scape. If the categories of material culture and landscape were lithic sites, there is evidence for constant maintenance, a cleanli-
collapsed (Gosden, 1999), and the mineral world was considered ness of the oors and multiple re-plastering events (Watkins,
an integrated component of the social world, not separate from it 1992). Cauvin (2000) suggests that the Neolithic was a revolution
S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758 753

of symbols with the dominant symbols being a female deity and a

divine male principle. Watkins (2004a,b, 2006) furthers this notion,
suggesting that in addition to this goddess and the bull symbol-
ism, that architecture acted as a mode of symbolic representation,
using settlements with elaborate design and ritualized, symbolic
behavior, such as Jerf el Ahmar, Qermez Dere, Jericho, Gbekli
Tepe, and ayn. Watkins furthers Cauvins discussion about
the formulation of a new ideology by associating the explosion of
symbolic imagery with architecture. Architecture acts as a storage
vessel for symbolic meaning, non-verbal communication and sym-
bolic representation. Early architecture codies information and
was a vehicle for symbolic storage, becoming almost as important
as writing in later times (Banning and Chazan, 2006). A whole new
symbolic world is represented in architecture and the built
Fig. 2. Relative quantities of microartifacts from bricks and mortar units (n = 627)
During the Neolithic, architecture played a signicant role in at atalhyk.
the domestication of humans (Hodder, 1990, 2004a; Wilson,
1988). Hodder argues that as houses and villages become more
complex and elaborate, domestic architecture assumes a special stone) (Fig. 2). Other materials with a less than 1% presence in-
importance at the same time as agricultural practices evolve to- cluded beads, sh scales, clay objects, building material, gurines,
wards domestication. Hodders (1990: 30) thesis is twofold: the so- pottery, and plant remains. Phytolith evidence suggests the pres-
cial units were constructing themselves into collections of ence of sedge plants and wood ash (Rosen, 2005; Ryan, 2011)
domestic units (i.e. households) while the house, or domus, be- and micromorphology has shown evidence of dung temper (Mat-
comes a metaphor for the domestication of society. Wilson thews, 2005). Plant impressions can be seen throughout uninten-
(1988) suggests that architecture creates a separation from nature, tionally red bricks and plant voids are visible in thin section
as well as separating and creating boundaries between people, be- (Tung, 2005). Analysis of landsnails (Bar-Yosef Mayer, in press)
tween us and other. Wilson sees architecture as a barrier but I has determined that their presence is largely attributed to con-
suggest that building materials, as a mosaic of materials, mediates struction materials, being present in the natural sediments.
between these categories of us and other. In this instance, the The microartifact analysis illustrates how mudbricks are a blend
role of manufactured materials, specically the mudbrick, contrib- of naturally sourced sediments combined with culturally sourced
utes to the creation of socialized space, or in Wilsons terms a cul- midden temper, in which the process of mudbrick manufacture be-
tural space as distinct from nature. comes a combination of nature and culture. The mixing of materi-
Discussions of domestication tend to include binary oppositions als had a strong history at atalhyk, where strict rules were
culture and nature; wild and domestic. Hodder (1990) argues observed about how the landscape was used, about what materials
that the domestication process was a way to tame wild things. were allowed on the mound, possibly reecting social rules about
Constructing houses separated and protected people from the wild the mixing of wild and domestic plants and animals (Hodder,
outdoors by creating a whole new social space, indoors. People 2004b, 2006). For example, ceramic residue analysis shows no evi-
were responsible for transforming and converting their world. By dence of plant food stored in pots, but an abundance of animal fat,
extending this discussion towards building materials, I consider grease and possibly marrow (Copley et al., 2005; see also Pitter
the idea that (wild) stone was primarily utilitarian but could also et al., 2013). In contrast, the phytolith evidence suggests that bas-
be regarded as taking the wild into the house. Perhaps this was a kets were used to store plants, mainly cereal grains (Rosen, 2005).
mechanism for taming or domesticating the landscape, the physi- As these categories were stored differently, they were also con-
cal environment, the mineral world, in tandem with the natural sumed differently. As death mirrors life, ceramic vessels were ab-
plant and animal worlds. sent from human burials. Young individuals were often buried in
However, mudbricks were pre-fabricated, manufactured ob- baskets or on reed mats and some adults were found with cordage
jects, a total assembly of all the elements earth, water, air, and (Hamilton, 2005; Ryan, in press). In rare instances, animal bones
re (in the form of burnt material inclusions sourced from midden) have been recovered in burial contexts, such as sheep, boar, weasel,
that were combined to create a social space of dwelling. The wild bird and duck (Russell and Meece, 2005; Russell and During, 2006).
landscape (soils, plants, water) was combined with domestic as- If art imitates life, then social rules may also be inferred from the
pects (midden and chaff from cultivated crops). The creation of presence and absence of plants and domestic animals in wall
the mudbrick unied these disparate aspects into a fabricated so- paintings. Wild animals, such as bear, wild boar, and deer, are more
cial space. Dwelling within a house constructed from manufac- commonly depicted than domestic sheep and goats, and depictions
tured materials create a different experience of dwelling than of plants are rare (Meece, 2006). Also, the horns from wild sheep
stone. and goat became ritualized objects whereas horns from domestic
Using an example from the mudbricks at atalhyk (Love, species were commonly recovered from refuse deposits (Russell
2012, 2013), microartifacts were targeted in the heavy residue and Martin, 2005; Russell and Meece, 2005). These avoidances re-
database to investigate the inclusions recovered from otation ect social rules at atalhyk, which regulated material combina-
and heavy residue analysis (for methodology, see Cessford and tions. However, despite the prohibition of the mixing of these
Mitrovic, 2005). The microartifacts included three size fractions domains, all these elements converge at the point of the house.
(>4 mm, >2 mm, >1 mm) from the interpretative categories of In connecting the building materials with the house, I want to
bricks, mortar and wall (a combination of bricks and mortar). A to- highlight how all aspects of the physical surroundings were com-
tal of 627 units were studied, which represented over 220 walls in bined within the house: water and earth, re and air, plant and ani-
35 buildings from ve different occupational phases (Levels X-VI/ mal, wild and domestic, sacred and profane. These avoidances
South L-N). The dominant mircoaritfact categories were digested were combined, mixed and fused at the point of the house. In this
animal bone (Russell and Martin, 2005), shells (mollusc and egg- regard, mudbricks could represent an ontological metaphor,
shell), stone, (including int, obsidian, worked stone and generic blurring the line between nature and culture. Mudbricks literally
754 S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758

combine the physical traits of opposing spheres, the wild and interest in the chaff, and a focus on the whole plant, and not just
domestic, plant and animal, off-and on-site source materials to cre- the food-producing grains, may have been motivated by a new
ate a whole new mediating object. Of course, chaff is needed to en- need for chaff to temper mudbricks. Cutting plants at the base
hance brick strength and prevents cracking. Grit, sand or midden unintentionally selected plants with a more robust rachis (Harris
also contributes to the tensile qualities of the nal product. Yet, I and Hillman, 1989; Hillman and Davies, 1990a,b), keeping the
argue, choices were present in the selection of materials that are grains in place. If seeds were saved and re-sowed, this scenario
not haphazard, careless or purely functional. Furthermore, these could possibly explain how plant domestication emerged congru-
combinations of materials created a mosaic quality that created ently with the adoption of clay and mudbrick architecture, both
the texture and quality of the structure. of which precede animal husbandry.
Given these developments, it is tempting to ask: what was pres-
ent during the PPNA, which was previously absent, that led to the
Socially situating mudbrick technology technological advancement of mudbrick architecture? One notable
spatial distinction between Natuan and Neolithic sites is a transi-
Having dismissed the prevailing extrinsic explanations for the tion from open to closed space and an internal division of space,
emergence of mudbricks and arguing for mudbricks as creating creating a conceptual shift including notions of privacy, boundary
an articial, fabricated environment for dwelling, I will now later- and territory. According to Wilson (1988), people in open settle-
ally situate mudbrick technology with contemporary socio-cul- ments knew the whereabouts of other people (focus) as opposed
tural developments. Various social practices that signify the Pre- to sedentary villages were boundary was prevalent. Open settle-
Pottery Neolithic were already in place prior to the appearance of ments encouraged sharing and public visibility, where privacy
mudbricks, such as in-house burials, skull removal and plastered would have been an unfamiliar concept. Wilson suggests that pri-
skulls, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic carved and sculpted g- vacy was an inherent component of domestication, an inten-
ures, elaborate stone tool kits and plastered and red painted walls tional manipulation of space, expressing authority over space and
and oors (Rollefson, 2001). However, there are other develop- things, and creating boundaries. Villages of rectilinear houses re-
ments unique to the Neolithic, such as increased architectural stricted mobility, decreased the amount of available space, and cre-
complexity, settlement density, individual food storage facilities, ated previously unknown physical and social boundaries, visible in
morphological plant and animal domestication, in which molded architectural features such as doors and walls (Saidel, 1993; Stead-
mudbricks were wholly adopted. There appears to have been a man, 2000). Banning (2003) argues that enclosed architecture en-
trend that shifted focus from the group to an emphasis on the indi- hanced concepts of privacy and promoted secrecy, envy and
vidual or smaller groups. Agreeing with Stordeur (2010), I argue suspicion.
that no single factor accounts for the invention of mudbrick tech- Visible changes in food storage facilities further support a shift
nology, but that its inception and implementation is nested within away from the communal social group in favor of smaller, more
a larger more complex web of interrelated social conditions. independent social units. Little direct evidence of food storage ex-
Continually occupied villages with permanent architecture ists during the Natuan, except for some tangential evidence of si-
were more common by the PPNA, when villages became larger, los or plastered storage pits outside the structures of Ain Mallaha
partly a result of increasing regional demographics (Bar-Yosef, (Boyd, 2006). The implication is that food was shared throughout
2001). Advances in architectural technology become visible in the community and low-levels of food storage was practiced. Clear
the increased building size, elaborate storage facilities (Kuijt, evidence for independent food storage begins to emerge during the
2009; Kuijt and Finlayson, 2009), and complexity of internal space PPNA, where plastered storage facilities are now found inside
(Goring-Morris and Belfer-Cohen, 2008). Communal architecture house structures, further emphasizing an individualized, house-
rst appeared at Jericho and cult or special purpose buildings begin based strategy (Hodder, 2005; Kuijt, 2009). Kuijt and Finlayson
to appear at places like Gbelki Tepe (Schmidt, 2011), Neval ori (2009: 10966) argue that the change from external, communal
(Hauptmann, 1999), Jerf Ahmar (Akkermans and Schwartz, 2003) storage to intramural storage reects evolving systems of owner-
and Kfar Hahoresh (Goring-Morris, 2000). Signicant architectural ship and property. These PPNA storage practices apparently freed
developments precede economic changes, such as the domestica- ones family from having to share with less-productive neighbors
tion of plants and animals (Kuijt and Goring-Morris, 2002; Verho- (Belfer-Cohen and Goring-Morris, 2002) and only sharing with co-
even, 2004). Hodder (1990: 31) suggests that social domestication habitants and/or close relatives.
occurs before economic domestication, based on ample evidence Furthermore, the transition from communal to individual can
dismissing agriculture as a predecessor to sedentism (Bar-Yosef, be seen in reduced quern size, as the massive size and weight of
2001; Bar-Yosef and Belfer-Cohen, 1989). It is in this context that Natuan mortars were gradually replaced by smaller, more indi-
mudbricks begin to appear, again, with no single causal factor. vidual querns and mortars common in Neolithic assemblages (Bel-
Cereal chaff was used to temper building materials in the PPNA, fer-Cohen and Goring-Morris, 2002: 146). The non-portable
yet plant morphology indicates wild species (Wilcox and Fornite, bedrock mortars present at some Natuan sites were external to
1999). Plant impressions from burnt pis from Jerf Ahmar and the residence and were likely communally shared. This pattern of
Mureybet give evidence of morphologically wild seeds, such as ein- individualization is further illustrated by a reduction in size and
korn, barley and rye, and arable weed seeds. The temper used in weight of groundstones, pestles (Wright, 1991) and stone bowls,
mudbricks was exclusively cereal chaff, with little evidence of allowing each household to possess their own food processing
stems and leaves. Abundant spikelet bases and fragments imply materials.
processing by crushing and pounding, which suggests that the These examples demonstrate a conceptual shift during the Neo-
temper was sourced from the de-husking process, and not from lithic towards a focus on smaller, more independent social units,
winnowing. These results suggest that crops were rst used as a shifting away from large communal groups. This trend is also
food source and the chaff byproduct used for temper (I. Hodder, visible in a reduced labor investment for architectural construc-
personal communication, 2009). Could it be possible that architec- tion, although it is commonly perceived that rectangular mud con-
ture unintentionally contributed to domestication of plants? structions are more labor intensive than circular (Aurenche, 1992;
During the Neolithic, a transition occurred from gathering cer- Saidel, 1993). Thomas (2005: 24) argues that making mudbricks is
eal grains, and leaving the plant intact in the eld, to cutting cere- less labor intensive than building rammed earth, pis or mudwall
als at the base of the stalk. These practices illustrate a sudden constructions, based on an experimental archaeology project in
S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758 755

Cyprus. Observations of modern brick-makers (Facey, 1997; Kemp, appear in circular structures (at Nemrik, Mlefaat, Hatoula, Gesher
2000; Jerome et al., 1999) estimate that a simple 4.5 square meter and Netiv Hagdud), with the exception being Jericho.
structure can be completed, from start to nish, in less than The architectural traits discussed here, specically the choice of
1 month. A crew of 35 people, working 8 h per day, can mix and building materials and their use in architecture, are essentially
mold upwards of 300500 bricks per day (Houben and Guillaud, codes of social practice and even ideology. Architecture created a
2005; Keefe, 2005), and a small crew of three people can lay manufactured environment, which increasingly became reied
300350 bricks in 8 h. The labor investment is estimated at 207 into daily life. It can be argued that these traits are an expression
person hours per square meter therefore a 4.5 square meter house of a social code of practice, since there are social mechanisms dic-
should take 932 h to build. Matthews (2005) estimates that an tating the construction and layout of structures. This social expres-
average house at atalhyk, measuring 4.32 square meters had sion of materials can be also seen as communication through
between 14 and 21 brick courses in a wall ranging between 2 architecture. As a cultural artifact, architecture is a metaphor for
and 3 m, thus requiring 500750 bricks per house. With these esti- human engagement and symbolic communication. If we consider
mates, a typical atalhyk house could have been built in about that houses embody cultural meanings, then they can be a means
2 weeks with a crew of 5 people or less, after dedicating 1 week of expressing and communicating these meanings to a broader
to making and drying the bricks. audience.
Considering these minimal labor investments reinforces the no- The aim of this paper has been to consider building materials as
tion of small-scale production, which can also be seen in a case objects reexive of human behavior. Recent scholarship has estab-
study from atalhyk. The compositional analysis of mudbricks lished architecture as material culture, dismissing the previous
from atalhyk concluded that mudbrick production was not a interpretations of building materials as exclusively functional re-
communal or centralized activity but that the organization of labor sources to be exploited for the construction of shelter. Develop-
appears to be household-based, where mudbrick manufacture was ments in material culture studies have demonstrated the
performed independently and on an as-needed basis (Love, 2013). complex and entangled relationship between people and things
This conclusion was based on brick recipes from 18 contemporary that can be extremely fruitful when applied to Neolithic architec-
structures (at Level VII/ South M) that each displayed a unique ture, to understand the construction of prehistoric villages as a ser-
mudbrick recipe (Love, 2012). Although raw materials were shared ies of socially informed practices. Integrating building materials
between houses, the mudbrick recipe varied signicantly enough into archaeological interpretations allows an understanding of
to suggest that each group had constructed its own house. Further- the use of materials as situated cultural knowledge.
more, it is clear that mudbricks were not made in large batches or By culturally dening natural resources, the materials used in
pre-manufactured and stored long-term. This example from atal- construction can be seen to have greater meaning. Cultural knowl-
hyk demonstrates how mudbrick technology can be integrated edge of resources dictates the use of materials and may have had a
into a larger discourse of conceptual shifts during the Neolithic, to- stronger inuence over material choices than their simple practi-
wards a focus on smaller, more independent social units, shifting cality. Saidel (1993) and Aurenche (1992) both argue that rectan-
away from large communal groups. gular mudbrick architecture requires more material and human
effort to construct than eldstone structures, which do not man-
date constant and regular maintenance. Then why build out of
Conclusion mud when stone was available? This question assumes capitalistic
perceptions of resource exploitation and landscape use, while
Architecture represents the social choices made by the people overlooking human agency and technological innovation. Equally,
who built these villages. Nature provided the resources but culture assuming a symmetrical approach considers the active inuence
decided the architectural form and choice of materials. It is fairly of materials and the deliberate choice of materials in the construc-
clear that resource availability was not the exclusive or even the tion of a house and village.
dominant motivation behind the selection of construction materi- Great attention is placed on Neolithic village life but little schol-
als. There are many different means to build a house, all of which arship actually considers the total sensory impact of living and
achieved the same functional goal. But these differences cannot all dwelling within an articially created environment. Asarchitecture
be explained by differences in material properties of clay, wood or is accepted as active material culture then we can understand the
stone. House and village construction is not just about how or why role architecture played in shaping a new spatial awareness and
these structures were built but also about who built them (Steva- emerging concepts of privacy, individuality and territoriality. The
novic, 1997). mudbrick is a mosaic, or a mixture of elements, plant and animal,
While it is mostly true that Epipaleolithic-circular-stone transi- wild and domestic, combining offsite and onsite materials. At
tioned to Neolithic-rectangular-mudbrick, there are too many atalhyk, these categories are strictly segregated but come to-
exceptions to ignore. These exceptions demonstrate regional varia- gether in brick-making, contributing to the materiality of the
tion that is not geographically dependent and the choice of materi- house. All of these combined activities are the processes by which
als is not environmentally determined. The transition to mudbrick Neolithic houses were made and illustrate the role mudbricks had
was gradual but not inevitable, with several intermediary stages. in that process.
Rather than looking for a blanket technological adoption, where
mudbrick replaces stone, we should focus on site-specic dia- Acknowledgments
chronic trends. The evidence suggests more individuality and inno-
vation than simply imitating observations in stone. We should not This paper was revised from my doctoral research at Stanford
consider prehistoric builders as having been limited by their envi- University and written while a post-doctoral fellow at Joukowsky
ronment but nested within a plethora landscape of choice, as the Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World at Brown Univer-
examples from Central Anatolia show that resource availability sity, where thanks is owed to Sue Alcock and John Cherry for such
does not dictate use. Furthermore, types of building materials did an opportunity. Heartfelt thanks to Mac Marston, Tim Earl and Ian
not afford the transition from circular architecture to implementa- Lilley for their suggestions and criticism on earlier drafts of this pa-
tion of the rectangular form. Here again, the architectural shape and per. This research was funded by grants from the Wenner Gren
types of materials used in construction are not correlated, espe- Foundation for Anthropological Research and the American
cially given that the earliest evidence for molded mudbricks rst Research Institute in Turkey.
756 S. Love / Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 32 (2013) 746758

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