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Deconstructing and Recomposing the Narrative of Spiritual Life in the Chalcolithic of the Southern Levant (4500–3600 B.C.E.)



The serendipity of discovery can determine the process and progress of the archaeological interpretation of religious belief and ritual practice. The Chalcolithic period (4500–3600 B.C.E.) of the southern Levant is used as a case study. Had the material expressions of Chalcolithic religion been discovered in a different sequence, our understanding of that religion might have been distinctly altered. We first present a chronological narrative of discovery, with summary headlines, and then proceed to dismantle previous syntheses. Finally, we construct our own framework for understanding Chalcolithic religion, which is essentially a life-cycle religion with extensive, almost ever-present, ritual reference to death and the regeneration of life.