People like us? The Neolithic in Southwest Asia

11 December 2019 19:00 to 20:30

6th Floor Lecture Theatre, Institute of Archaeology (UCL), 31-34 Gordon Square, London

This year for our AGM Lecture and Crystal-M. Bennett Memorial Lecture, former CBRL Director, Bill Finlayson, will be speaking on the Neolithic in Southwest Asia.


CBRL and its predecessors have played an important role in developing our understanding of the Southwest Asian Neolithic, one of the key transitions in human history, with the emergence of new forms of society that changed our relationship with the world, allowing the introduction of farming and enabling people to live in large sedentary groups. From Kenyon’s pioneering work at Jericho, to Kirkbrides excavations at Beidha, Crystal-Bennett’s excavation of the first Pre-Pottery Neolithic A settlement found in Jordan, and exploration of the eastern deserts and oases by Betts and Garrard, British research has been central to the Neolithic. However, our research is undermined by a comprehension of the Neolithic as a vital all-encompassing stage in the path to modernity, creating people like us. Current debates include the timing of the Neolithic as a process, recently seen as a long, slow Neolithic transformation over many thousands of years. Critically, we appear to have lost sight of what the Neolithic was. In this talk, I will critically discuss the key changes that occurred early in the Neolithic, distinguishing these from more widely shared aspects of human development, while recognising the otherness of these 10,000 year old societies. 

About the speaker: Bill Finlayson is Professor of Prehistoric Environment and Society in the Human Origins and Palaeoenvironments Research Group at Oxford Brookes University and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of Reading. He served as the Director and CEO of the Council for British Research in the Levant between 1999 and 2018, having previously managed the University of Edinburgh’s applied archaeology research section.  

Bill's research currently focuses on the development of early farming societies. Major projects include post-excavation analysis of Neolithic Dhraʿ (previously excavated by Crystal Bennett) with Ian Kuijt, and WF16 with co-directors Steven Mithen and Mohammad Najjar. He directs a PPNA excavation at Sharara in the Wadi Hassa with Cheryl Makarewicz. Bill's work in heritage management includes an experimental, conservation and public archaeology programme at the Neolithic site of Beidha within the Petra World Heritage site and developing with colleagues a Neolithic Heritage Trail from Beidha to Wadi Faynan. 

The lecture will follow CBRL's AGM - the AGM will start at 18:15. There will be a small reception after the lecture.

This event is open to all and free to attend, however registration is required. To register, click here

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