OXFORD JOURNAL OF ARCHAEOLOGY, vol.40, no.1, pp.23-42, 2021 (AHCI)
The site of Ugurlu on the island of Gokceada (Imbros) is the earliest known Neolithic settlement within the Aegean Islands (c.6800-4500 cal. BC). In total, 37 pits, associated with a rich variety of artefacts as well as human and animal bones were excavated in the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic levels of the site (c.5900-4500 BC). The pits belonging to the early sixth millennium BC levels of Ugurlu were small and located within the houses that seem to have gone through multiple episodes of house destruction and renovation rituals. During the late sixth millennium BC, this area became the focus of extensive pit-digging activity, when large pits involving rich variety of artefacts were set within the courtyard of a special building (Building 4). Among the pits, a collective human burial pit (P188) incorporating the remains of 11 individuals and another pit (P52) involving a partial human skeleton were also found. From a comparative point of view, the construction techniques of these pits, their spatio-temporal relations as well as their associated archaeological artefacts resemble the Anatolian and Near Eastern Neolithic practices of house destruction and renovation cycles, which are activities related to the ancestor cults of the region. We argue that all of these practices reflect public events during which social relations were negotiated through the agency of place. The differences observed during the sixth millennium BC at Ugurlu reflect the changing concepts of place and society in the immediate aftermath of the Neolithic Process, when interactions with the Balkans as well as the Aegean intensified in this region.