The Ubaid period in south-west Asia constitutes a key period of social and political change anticipating the emergence of complex societies in the following millennium. Well-preserved archaeobotanical assemblages have enormous potential to document these changes at both the site and individual household levels. The conflagration that consumed Structure 4 at the Ubaid settlement of Kenan Tepe in south-eastern Turkey provides a case study through the analysis of almost 70 000 charred macrobotanical remains. The results suggest that labour may have been pooled between households to process emmer wheat to spikelet stage after harvesting. Final processing was conducted on the roof of the house by members of the individual household as need arose. The pooling of resources may reflect the intensification of production and the emergence of elites during the Ubaid period in this region.