Roseleen Bains

The Social Significance of Stone Bead Technologies at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey

The Neolithic in the Near East is a period marked by a number of significant social changes, including the increased and more varied use of personal ornamentation, which became an integral instrument in expressing burgeoning social changes by directly influencing concepts of social and individual identity, ritual, and symbolism, while at the same time developing and promoting trade and technology within Neolithic society.

My research aims to better understand the social significance of stone bead production and use at the site of Çatalhöyük, Turkey, from a technological perspective, by closely examining technological practices and choices, reconstructing the manufacturing process, analyzing production contexts and hence craft specialization, and use contexts such as burials. First, raw materials are identified in order to determine manufacturing practices, which in turn can help create operational sequences of stone bead production. Second, finished and unfinished stone beads are examined for manufacture marks, and chipped stone and ground stone tools are studied for possible use-wear. Contexts in which two or more of the different stages of bead production (raw material nodules, roughouts, preforms, finished beads, and all associated debitage) are found, are of particular interest, as they identify possible production areas and also provide important clues to reconstructing the manufacturing sequence. By looking at such production contexts diachronically and synchronically throughout the occupation phases at Çatalhöyük, levels of craft specialization can be better understood, and the changes and differences in stone bead technologies can be traced not only within the phases, but also during the span of Çatalhöyük’s occupation.

The bead-making technologies present at Çatalhöyük are also compared to bead production at other published sites around the Near East (Jilat 25 in Jordan, Aşıklı Höyük in Turkey) and in the Indus Valley (Mehrgarh). These sites have been chosen due to the extensive bead research done pertaining to manufacture and specialization. Although not all contemporary, a comparison of the similarities and differences of technology and the social, economic, and environmental factors which influence them are integral to better understanding how and why such technologies developed and proliferated, and what their broader social significance within Neolithic societies is.


 Educational background

  • BA (Hons), Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, University of British Columbia, 2004
  • MA, Archaeology, UCL, 2005

Bains, R. 2012. (in prep.) The Social Significance of Stone Bead Technologies at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, Turkey. Ph.D. University College London.

Bains, R., Wright, K. I., Bar-Yosef Mayer, D., Vasic, M., and N. Russell. (in prep.) A Technological Approach to the Study of Personal Ornamentation and Social Expression at Çatalhöyük. In I. Hodder (Ed.) Substantive Technologies from Çatalhöyük: reports from the 2000- 2008 seasons: Los Angeles: Monographs of the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, University of California at Los Angeles.

Bains, R. (in prep.) Neolithic Stone Bead Technologies at Çatalhöyük, Turkey. In K. Wright (Ed.) Beads and Personal Ornaments in the Ancient Near East: Technologies, Styles, Social Significance: Proceedings of a Workshop held at the 7th International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE), London, April 2010.

Bains, R., Özbaşaran, M., Kayacan, N., and L. Astruc. (in prep.) Bead Industries at Aşıkı Höyük.

Wright, K. I., Critchley, P., Garrard, A. N., Bains, R., Baird, D., & S. Groom. 2008. Stone bead technologies and early craft specialization: insights from two Neolithic sites in eastern Jordan. Levant 40(2): 131-165.

Bains, R. & K. I. Wright. 2008. Stone bead technology at Çatalhöyük, summer 2008. Çatalhöyük Website Archive Reports, 2008.

Wright, K. I. & R. Bains. 2007. Stone bead technology at Çatalhöyük, summer 2007. Çatalhöyük Website Archive Reports, 2007.

  • Steatite zoomorphic bead found within a multiple burial from an eroded Neolithic building at Çatalhöyük
  • Serpentinite, marble, and limestone bead necklace, found on child skeleton in Building 43, Çatalhöyük
  • SEM image of the perforation of a calcite bead from Çatalhöyük

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