The Neolithic of southwest Asia is a critical time in human history; it saw the emergence of agriculture, the beginning of prolonged sedentism, a change in cultural and ritual practices and the advent of complex societies. With this came not only a practical change in resource management but also an ideological shift in how these resources were viewed. By comparing microfaunal assemblages from two very different sites in Anatolia, Çatalhöyük and Pinarbasi, Emma Jenkins explores how microfauna can be used to provide information about the palaeoenvironment, the effects of sedentism on microfaunal communities and past ritual and cultural beliefs. The results show that while the Çatalhöyük assemblage consists predominantly of house mice, no commensal species were found at Pinarbasi, indicating that sedentism does lead to commensalism. The discovery of dense concentrations of microfauna derived from carnivore scats, and incorporated into human burials at Çatalhöyük, suggests that small mammals or their predators had a role in the ritual life at the site. These findings are useful to other researchers studying the Neolithic and to those interested in the field of microfaunal analysis.
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