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Conn Herriott

Conn Herriott


Ph.D. dissertation topic: ‘Towards an evolutionary approach to the archaeology of religion: the socio-economics of belief in the Epipalaeolithic-Neolithic transition’

Advisors: Prof. Anna Belfer-Cohen, Prof. Tamar Elor


My doctoral research focuses on religious belief and practice during the transition to village life and agriculture in the Late Epipalaeolithic-Early Neolithic Levant. Building on the evolutionary approach of behavioural ecology, I am testing a methodological tool which will hopefully offer a means of improving our models and interpretations of religion in this pivotal moment in human history. The project involves: (1) gathering and quantifying environmental and lifeway data on four prehistoric case study ‘cultures’ (Geometric Kebaran, Early Natufian, PPNA and PPNB); (2) a statistical analysis of the relevant variables in a cross-cultural ethnographic database (the SCCS), searching for patterns in the variability of that data vis-?-vis religious beliefs and practices; and (3) an examination of the direct archeological evidence for religion in the prehistoric case studies, to see if that material fits with the religious characteristics suggested by the cross-cultural correlations.

This research will hopefully shed light on the nature of religion during the world’s earliest transition from a hunting and gathering to a sedentist and agricultural lifeway. It will also contribute to a developing social sciences field: the behavioural ecology of religion.

Research interests

  • The archaeology and anthropology of religion
  • Relationships between lifeway and social characteristics
  • Archaeological fieldwork and dissemination methods

Current projects

  • Excavation director in rescue projects throughout Israel, since 2010
  • Editorial coordinator for the NGSBA Archaeology series of the Hebrew Union College, since 2012