Symbolic Decoration of Houses and Public Buildings in Early Pre-Pottery Neolithic Period (PPNA Epoch) in Northern Mesopotamia

Kornienko T. V.

One of the changes in human conscience proved by material evidence of the first stage of late Stone Age in the Upper Mesopotamia is the change of attitude towards dwelling places, which some scholars define as «respectful», and others connect with the forming of the «conception of home». At that time the house was regarded as a centre of the «big family» and as a family sanctuary directly connected with parents and ancestors of the people who lived in it. This attitude is seen in the fact that the central parts of «home-sanctuaries» in Germez Dere and Nemrik IX were decorated with pairs of symbolic columns, as well as in the peculiarities of the burials discovered in these buildings. As the territorial principle of social organization began to predominate, the sacral centre of the universe was transferred from family sanctuaries to polyfunctional public buildings. Religious function of the buildings unearthed on Hallan Cemi, in Jerfel Ahmar and Mureybet is proved by the remnants of offerings, some traces of other rituals and by the elements of symbolic decoration of the buildings, the elements which designated the presence of supernatural powers in there. The practice of erecting special cult buildings was further developed during the following period, as one can see in the monuments of the PPNB epoch in Southern Taurus and in the neighbouring territories.