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Title: Gender and social structure in Prehistory : the uses and abuses of material culture : a case-study of the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, Çumra (Turkey)
Author: Hamilton, Naomi Susan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2004
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During the 1990’s gender became accepted as a topic of study in archaeology. However, a methodology for assessing the usefulness of certain types of material for understanding the operation of gender in prehistoric societies is still lacking. Traditionally, archaeologists have tended to infer gender structures from the two ‘obvious’ data groups - burials, and human representations - but their assessments were generally based on modern Western normative attitudes and were uninformed by anthropological or sociological viewpoints and discoveries. Thus the data were used in unimaginative ways, or adapted to fit expectations, producing little ground-breaking work but rather reproducing in the past the picture of the present. The new wave of gender investigators also works predominantly with these same data groups, because of their clear affinity with ‘real people’, but there is still a gap in methodology, and a separation of gender from the wider implications of social organisation. This thesis is concerned to investigate the application of anthropological and sociological insights, and theoretical social constructs, to certain types of material culture recovered commonly from archaeological sites and generally regarded as interpretable by any archaeologist. Thus I consider burials and anthropomorphic figurines, frequently used as the basis of gender interpretation, as well as the less usual topic of space. The focus of the thesis is the world-famous neolithic sites of Catalhöyük, situated in central Anatolia, which has widely been viewed as an exceptional settlement with unusual gender structures. The first part of the thesis is devoted to the theoretical issues which must lie behind any serious interpretation of the social structures of the people who lived at Catalhöyük. Thus a substantial chapter discusses gender, and another discusses socials forms. An overview of the original work at the site, and of the state of research in each of my data groups, follows. The remainder of the thesis deals in detail with the material from the current excavations, divided into three data groups, and the interpretations of gender and society which they can offer through a contextual analysis. My conclusions are that the gender and social structures discernable from the material culture of Catalhöyük conform neither to the simple ‘matriarchist’ nor the modern Western expectations. Rather, a more complex reading of the material, informed by cross-disciplinary scholarship, offers a richer but more open-ended view of the ordinary lives of the people who created this extraordinary site.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available