Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-7ccbd9845f-mpxzb Total loading time: 0.288 Render date: 2023-01-29T18:31:56.918Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Butterfly Beads in the Neolithic Near East: Evolution, Technology and Socio-cultural Implications

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 June 2016

Hala Alarashi*
Affiliation:
Archéorient-UMR 5133, Maison de l'Orient et de la Méditerranée, 7 rue Raulin, 69007 Lyon, France Email: hala.alarashi@free.fr

Abstract

The study of butterfly beads, which first appeared during the tenth millennium cal. bc, covers an important span of the Neolithization process and gives new insights on the symbolic and socio-economic systems of the first farming communities in the Near East. By the end of the Pre-pottery Neolithic, butterfly beads acquired sophisticated shapes and became appreciably larger. Simultaneously, the choice of raw materials changed towards brighter and more colourful allochthonous rocks. These changes reflect a desire to make the butterfly beads more conspicuous as well as an increased demand for ‘prestige’ materials. The technological mastery required to shape and perforate these beads suggests craft specialization and changes in social organization. The morphological and technological complexity of these items, the aesthetic quality of their raw materials, the variability in the degrees of use-wear, along with the particularity of the archaeological contexts, imply a polysemantic reading of their symbolic functions. Butterfly beads were likely related to motherhood and fecundity. Objects of memory and valuable items of ‘prestige’, they comprised part of family or group heirlooms and were worn for special ceremonies. They undoubtedly represented the cultural identity of the first farming societies in upper Mesopotamia and the Levant.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research 2016 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)
17
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Butterfly Beads in the Neolithic Near East: Evolution, Technology and Socio-cultural Implications
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Butterfly Beads in the Neolithic Near East: Evolution, Technology and Socio-cultural Implications
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Butterfly Beads in the Neolithic Near East: Evolution, Technology and Socio-cultural Implications
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *