© 2009 International Institute of Anthropology
© 2009 Reports of Prehistoric Research Projects
© 2009 The authors
© 2009
Lolita Nikolova
© 2009 Ernst Pernicka
Approach to Enculturation in Prehistory
and in Present
60th Birth Anniversary of Ian Hodder

Complied and edited by Lolita Nikolova and Ernst Pernicka

Reports of Prehistoric Research Projects 9 (2009)
in collaboration with Stratum, Chisinau, Moldova
Stella Souvatzi
A Student of Ian Hodder
Short Academic Biography

Dr Stella G. Souvatzi, archaeologist, holds a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge
(Clare Hall, 2000) and BA and MA degrees from the University of Athens (Department of
History and Archaeology). She has been Post-doctoral Research Fellow of the Hellenic State
Scholarships Foundation, and Doctoral Scholar of the A.G. Leventis Foundation and of NATO.
She is Associate Lecturer in Greek Culture Studies at the Hellenic Open University (since
2004) and at the Open University of Cyprus (since 2008). She has taught a range of
archaeological subjects at the Universities of Cambridge (1998-2001) and Cardiff (2000-2002)
(as tutorial supervisor and teaching associate respectively), and at the Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki (2001) and the School of Architecture of the National Metsovion Polytechneion,
Greece (2005). She has given many presentations at international conferences (Britain,
Ireland, Bulgaria and Greece) and has also been invited to lecture for several higher
institutions, including the Universities of Manchester, of Cardiff, of the Aegean and of Thessaly,
and the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki.

    She is Professor in Prehistoric Archaeology at the School of Tourist Guides, Athens (since
2008) and has also been Museum Educator in educational programmes and training
workshops of the Hellenic Ministry of Culture taking place at major archaeological museums
and sites in Athens (1991-1993). She has conducted extensive archaeological fieldwork all
over Greece. Currently she is involved as co-director or senior investigator in field research
projects, while in the past she worked as an archaeologist in many excavations carried out by
the Greek Archaeological Service and the Universities of Athens and Thessaloniki. Her
research interests include: the prehistory (particularly the Neolithic) of Greece, Balkans and
the Near East; archaeological and anthropological theory; architecture and the use of space;
houses, households and communities; and themes in interpreting the past, particularly, identity,
gender, and the role of archaeology in the construction of the past. She is a member to: World
Archaeological Congress, European Association of Archaeologists, University of Cambridge
Alumni (life member), Hellenic Cambridge Alumni Association (life member), Clare Hall-
Cambridge (life member), the A.G. Leventis Scholars Association-Greece (foundational
member), and Hellenic Association of University Women (member of the Committee for
International Relations).

Selected publications

Souvatzi, S. 2008. A Social Archaeology of Households in Neolithic Greece. An Anthropological
Approach. New York / Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Souvatzi, S. 2008. Household dynamics and variability in the Neolithic of Greece: the case for
a bottom-up approach to past societies. In D. W. Bailey, A. Whittle, and D. Hofmann (eds.)
Living Well Together: Settlement and Materiality in the Neolithic of South-East and Central
Europe, pp. 17-27. Oxford: Oxbow.
Souvatzi, S. 2007. Social complexity is not the same as hierarchy. In S. E. Kohring and Wynne-
Jones S. (eds.) Socialising Complexity: Structure, Interaction and Power in Archaeological
Discourse, pp. 37-59. Oxford: Oxbow.
Souvatzi, S. 2007. The identification of Neolithic households: unfeasible or just disregarded? In
R. C. Westgate, J. Whitley and N. R. E. Fisher (eds.) Building Communities: House,
Settlement and Society in the Aegean and Beyond, pp. 19-28. London: British School at
Athens Studies 15.
Souvatzi, S. and Skafida E. 2003. Neolithic communities and symbolic meaning: perceptions
and expressions of social and symbolic structures at Dimini, Thessaly. In L. Nikolova (ed.)
Early Symbolic Systems for Communication in Southeast Europe, pp. 429-441. Oxford: British
Archaeological Reports International Series 1139. Extended summary in New Contributions to
the Archaeology of Southeast Europe and Anatolia, <http://www.iianthropology.
Souvatzi, S. 2002. Review of Graves-Brown, P., S. Jones and C. Gamble, 1996, Cultural
Identity and Archaeology, Routledge. Archaeological Review from Cambridge 18: 204-210.
Souvatzi, S. 2005. To noikokyrio os pedio diepistimonikis erevnas (The household as a focus
of interdisciplinary research). Kritiki Diepistimonikotita I: 51-73 (English summary). Athens,
Savalas Editions.
Souvatzi, S. and D. Papaconstantinou. 2005. Archaiologia kai politismikes antistaseis
(Archaeology and cultural resistance). Kritiki Diepistimonikotita I: 134-142 (English summary).
Athens, Savalas Editions.
Souvatzi, S. 2003. I oikiaki organosi os idiaiteri monada koinonikis analysis. Anthropologikes
kai arhaiologikes proseggiseis (Domestic organisation as a unit of social analysis:
anthropological and archaeological approaches). In G. Hourmouziadis (ed.) I Proistoriki Erevna
stin Ellada kai oi Prooptikes tis: Theoritikoi kai Methodologikoi Provlimatismoi, pp. 333-339
(English summary). Thessaloniki, University Studio Press.

Response to the Editors’  Invitation:

Stella G. Souvatzi. A Social Archaeology of Households in Neolithic Greece. An
Anthropological Approach. Cambridge University Press 2008.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Series: Cambridge Studies in Archaeology
320 pages, 82 in-text illustrations, 7 tables, 253x177 mm
ISBN-13: 978-0521836890
Published: April 2008 (USA), July 2008 (UK)

The study of households and everyday life is increasingly recognized as fundamental in social
archaeological analysis. This book is the first to address the household as a process and as a
conceptual and analytical means through which we can interpret social organization from the
bottom up. Using detailed case studies from Neolithic Greece, I examine how the household is
defined socially, culturally, and historically; she discusses household and community, variability,
production and reproduction, individual and collective agency, identity, change, complexity, and
integration. The study is enriched by an in-depth discussion of the, often little-known,
framework for the household in the social sciences and the synthesis of many anthropological,
historical, and sociological examples. It reverses the view of the household as passive,
ahistorical, and stable, showing it instead to be active, dynamic, and continually shifting.
In recent years, the archaeological literature has been undergoing a change and has been
obliged to reconsider its traditional epistemological focus on large scales of space and time,
towards an inclusion of smaller scales. There are now a growing number of works on
individuals, houses, households, communities, and other social categories and the conduct of
everyday life. However, this has not resulted in the emergence of a truly alternative and
coherent approach to households as dynamic social entities, which have instead continued
largely to be viewed as passive responses to wider and longer-term changes and through old,
top-down perspectives and traditional assumptions. The important contributions of much of the
archaeological research have developed in ways which have yet to be fully integrated into the
analysis of households. Conversely, the issue of household has yet to be fully included into
archaeology’s theoretical and interpretative practice. In addition, the boundaries between
theoretical traditions and research agendas, and sometimes between Anglo-American and
‘other’ archaeological-sociological perspectives, result in a compartmentalisation in these
studies. At the same time, the interaction between anthropology, history, and sociology has led
to a clearer conceptual and analytical framework for household in a variety of past and present
social contexts.

    This book shows how the social context of household, with its wealth of cultural and
empirical information, its rich variability, and the multitude of ways in which it interacts with the
wider society, can provide a very meaningful framework from which to conduct a social
archaeology. A central argument of the book is that a social archaeological approach to
household is particularly crucial to an interpretative theory of social organisation as a
dialectical, historical, and dynamic process. In this way the household can also serve as a
common frame of reference, a point of dialogue between archaeology and its related
disciplines. Rather than merely borrowing theories, models, and concepts from other
disciplines, archaeology can tackle issues of interest to anthropologists, historians, sociologists
and economists focusing on its own materialist concerns and retaining its privilege of
witnessing the long-term sequence of events. In fact, archaeology, with the materiality and
historical depth of its data, is in a favourable position to study households and to make
important and influential contributions to wider social research. It can expand considerably the
knowledge of the diversity and multidimensionality of social units, both synchronically and
diachronically; provide insights into social configurations, rules, and ideals that may no longer
exist; and add a historical perspective to transformations of households and wider

    The chapters of the book (see list of contents and chapter summary below) rearticulate the
notion of household at and between different scales of space and time and through key issues,
such as the definition of household and its relationship with community, autonomy and
interdependence, diversity and homogeneity, individual and collective agency, domestic and
public ritual, intra-settlement burials, architecture and symbolic representation, and production
and consumption, as well as social reproduction, change, complexity, and integration, in order
to capture some of the many dimensions of household and to show how many theoretical
issues and areas of common interest intersect. Although the book has a considerable theory
and methodology element, this serves to set the background for the empirical analysis that
forms its main arguments. It is based on continued research and presents significant analysis
of primary unpublished data and of much new material that has emerged in the last few years,
as well as reinterpretations of older material. Although the case studies are from Greece, I
have tried to make clear the implications for archaeologists and anthropologists in other areas
and periods.

    Chapters 1 and 2 focus on the conceptual and social definition of household, for it is in this
area that we can recognise the multiplicity of factors which make up its diversity and dynamics.
Questions relate to the nature of appropriate theories and methods, the recognition of
sociocultural variability, and the evaluation of disciplinary contributions. Because I feel that
archaeological approaches to household still have much to reflect upon before they can
capture its social dynamics, I begin this book (Chapter 1), perhaps unorthodoxly, by presenting
the main points of the discussion not in archaeology but in the social sciences, in which the
dialectics of both household and research have been established and a comprehensive
framework has been constructed. This review can be valuable as both a reference point and a
starting point for new ways of thinking. Chapter 2 discusses critically the situation in our
discipline and offers an alternative framework for interpretation. I argue that the goal of
capturing the social dynamics of household in archaeology is achievable, provided we bridge
two divides: an internal one between various archaeological approaches, and an external one
between archaeology and its related disciplines. We should not be isolated from wider social
theory, but neither should we apply such theory when clearly inappropriate.

    The major task of the book is to investigate the issues outlined above by bringing together
all lines of archaeological evidence available. Such a contextual and integrative approach is
particularly appropriate for contexts such as Neolithic Greece, whose architectural and
material data not only are rich and complex, but also are derived almost in their entirety from
houses and settlements. This important characteristic associates Greece with many other
parts of the prehistoric world in which households are key units of analysis, such as central
and eastern Europe and the Near and Middle East.

    Yet, in Greek Neolithic research, as generally in wider prehistoric research, there has been
little systematic effort to look to the contents of houses with the aim of moving beyond
generalisations and towards interpretations of Neolithic life. Chapters 3 to 7 aim specifically at
such integration at the household level. Chapter 3 provides a brief outline of Neolithic Greece
to set in context the case studies in Chapters 4 to 7. The sites on which I concentrate in
Chapters 4 and 5, Nea Nikomedeia, Sesklo, and Dimini, are among the most famous of the
Greek Neolithic and also figure prominently in syntheses of the European Neolithic or of
aspects of it (e.g., Bailey 2000; 2005; Chapman and Gaydarska 2006; Whittle 1996). Earlier
interpretations of these sites have been left largely unchallenged. I also provide an account of
my analysis of the ceramic material from Dimini (Chapter 5), as its production, distribution, and
use are closely linked to household economy and ideology.

    In Chapter 4, I examine the evidence from the earlier Neolithic settlements of Nea
Nikomedeia and Sesklo and compare this with the widely held belief that the complexity of
later Neolithic societies was preceded by a long and relatively uniform period of idealised
simplicity and homogeneity. Attention focuses on the distinction between the ideal and the real
both at the theoretical and at the methodological level.

    Chapter 5 constitutes an important methodological stage in the attempt to understand past
societies from the bottom up, providing a detailed case study in household organisation. It
examines the remains of household practices from Late Neolithic Dimini and integrates these
with the notion of meaningfully and purposefully structured spaces – both residential and
communal. A central theme here is the conceptual and analytical separation of social
complexity from inequality and hierarchy. This also involves consideration of the notions of
reciprocity and antagonism, independence and interdependence, and social differentiation and

    Chapters 6 and 7 bring other important sites of the Greek Neolithic world into a
comparative synthesis which illustrates the need to shift away from the preoccupation with the
big picture and towards a consideration of the entire range of variation – spatial and temporal
– underneath it. In Chapter 6, attention is directed to the recognition of difference and
patterning, as seen in, among other things, household activities and ideologies, the examination
of patterns of similarities and differences, and their articulation and meaning. In Chapter 7, I try
to pull all the evidence together to offer concrete examples of what goes on underneath the
general tendencies of the Neolithic sequence. I take a diachronic perspective on continuities
and changes and their range and character. I argue that courses of progression are so fluid,
ambiguous, and context-specific that it is impossible to enclose them into uniform and
predictive models. Discussion includes the means, media, and mechanisms through which
changes occurred or continuities were maintained, and what might have been their stimuli and

    In focusing on the household I have not intended to suggest a hierarchy of levels; rather to
point out that any socioeconomic discourse constructed in the absence of these multifaceted,
dynamic social units is not only complacent, but bound to prove unconvincing. In each of the
data chapters (4–7), as well as in Chapters 1 and 2, there is an attempt to link the large scale
with individual variation and choice. It is hoped that the analysis of such evidence will highlight a
new meaning for the patterns and interpretations concerning the large scale.
14-20 April 2002)organized with a grant of European
Science organized with a grant of European Science
Foundation, Strasbourg, France.Foundation,
Strasbourg, France.