As the nomadic hunters and gatherers of the ancient Near East turned to agriculture for their livelihood and settled into villages, religious ceremonies involving dancing became their primary means for bonding individuals into communities and households into villages. So important was dance that scenes of dancing are among the oldest and most persistent themes in Near Eastern prehistoric art, and these depictions of dance accompanied the spread of agriculture into surrounding regions of Europe and Africa. In this pathfinding book, Yosef Garfinkel analyzes depictions of dancing found on archaeological objects from the Near East, southeastern Europe, and Egypt to offer the first comprehensive look at the role of dance in these Neolithic (7000-4000 BC) societies. In the first part of the book, Garfinkel examines the structure of dance, its functional roles in the community (with comparisons to dance in modern pre-state societies), and its cognitive, or symbolic, aspects. This analysis leads him to assert that scenes of dancing depict real community rituals linked to the agricultural cycle and that dance was essential for maintaining these calendrical rituals and passing them on to succeeding generations. In the concluding section of the book, Garfinkel presents and discusses the extensive archaeological data -- some 400 depictions of dance -- on which his study is based.
Part I The Dance Analysis 1 Chapter 2 Structural Analysis of the Dance 27 Chapter 3 Functional Analysis of the Dance 65 Chapter 4 Cognitive Analysis of the Dancing Scenes 85 Part II The Data 103 Chapter 6 General Remarks Concerning the Data 105 Chapter 7 Neolithic Near East 111 Chapter 8 Halafian and Samarra Cultures 125 Chapter 9 Neolithic and Chalcolithic Iran 161 Chapter 10 Neolithic Southeast Europe 205 Chapter 11 Predynastic Egypt 233 Chapter 12 Later Examples from the Near East 269 Chapter 13 Appendix: The Figures with "Turned-Upwards Legs" 291.
Includes bibliographical references (pages -317) and index.