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Monday, 31 August 2009

to live in fear

What was it like in those early houses, those first settlements when man gave up the nomadic life and staked his future on agriculture? Was it easy, and without stress, or fraught with fear from crops failing and threats from others.

Whilst thinking about Dr Susan Tarlow's very good essay, "Emotions in Archaeology", where she outlines some of the challenges for archaeology in trying to consider the emotional lives of people who have left no written record, I came across an interesting diagram in Michael Cook's 'A Brief History of the Human Race.'
The picture is that of a settlement dated back to the 7th Millennium BC in Anatolia, or modern day Turkey. A quick glance reveals no streets and even more strikingly, no doors, the only entrance was through a hole in the roof.

The point Michael Cook made was that this was a claustrophobic and cramped place to live, not least if one's people had recently been hunter gatherers. It does however, as he continues, show a blank wall to the outside world which may have give some kind of rudimentary defence.

I think it does suggest an enormous amount of fear. Why else would one make entrance to one's property so hard and so camouflaged? And to live in such close confines? This is not about materials and architectural skills limiting the design. This is about living in fear of someone attacking one's home and killing. There is no room for much storage and any common storage area could be attacked or defended, but this is about people's houses and a fear of personal attack.

Not quite a golden age of agricultural idyll...

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