Aegeus Society For Aegean Prehistory


2 December 2010

Domesticity by default. Ritual, Ritualization and cave-use in the Neolithic Aegean

Peter Tomkins Oxford Journal of Archaeology 28.2 (May 2009): 125–153.


Neolithic caves in the Aegean are conventionally understood in domestic terms, principally as temporary homes for farmers or pastoralists. This paper challenges the theoretical and empirical foundations of this orthodoxy and develops an alternative model grounded in an understanding of Neolithic ritual and how through ritualization the everyday is referenced and transformed. This model is explored with reference to the corpus of well-published cave-sites. Although further testing remains a priority, facilitated by the development of new ways of studying cave assemblages, ritual explanations are considered to provide a more credible explanation for Neolithic cave-use in all its aspects, from the selection of caves as locales for activity to the complexity and diversity of their material records. In this way the Aegean may be seen to fit within a broader pattern of ritual cave-use in the Mediterranean during the Neolithic and Chalcolithic.


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