The project addresses Big Questions regarding the relationships between the origins of settled agricultural life and cognitive change by studying the archaeological data from the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey. The rich data from this site will be used to test a series of claims made by authors including the Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin, Colin Renfrew, Jacques Cauvin, about the Neolithic as a key moment in the gradual process by which human consciousness, an awareness of an integrated personal self, and the horizons of human possibility (innovation and creativity) all increased. Through empirical archaeological research, the project will test competing expectations. The activities that constitute this project are (1) data analysis, (2) workshops, (3) publication. The output will be 4 new monographs, a more popular book, and at least 20 peer-reviewed articles. This project will make a difference by showing that rich and scientifically collected archaeological data can be used to test hypotheses about how we evolved cognitively. It asks whether de Chardin was correct in arguing that the Neolithic was a key moment in the gradual forging of the modern mind. The enduring impact is to show the "process by which potential man realized more and more of his possibilities" (de Chardin).
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