First Buildings May Have Been Community Centers
Michael Balter, ScienceNOW, 02-05-2011
Nearly 12,000 years ago, the world’s first villages began to spring up in the Near East. Until recently, archaeologists assumed that the stone and mud-brick buildings that made up these small settlements were the houses of the first farmers, who had begun to give up the hunting and gathering lifestyle. But the discovery of a large, amphitheater-like building at a site in southern Jordan, reported today, adds to growing evidence that the earliest permanent buildings might not have been homes, but community centers. The find, researchers say, suggests that during the advent of agriculture—a pivotal turning point that prehistorians call the Neolithic Revolution—early farmers may have come together first to engage in communal activities, and only later did they begin living together.
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