Pub Date: 15 Dec 2022
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Series: Neolithic Studies Group Seminar Papers
The current paradigm-changing ancient DNA revolution is offering unparalleled insights into central problems within archaeology relating to the movement of populations and individuals, patterns of descent, relationships and aspects of identity – at many scales and of many different kinds. The impact of recent ancient DNA results can be seen particularly clearly in studies of the European Neolithic, the subject of contributions presented in this volume. We now have new evidence for the movement and mixture of people at the start of the Neolithic, as farming spread from the east, and at its end, when the first metals as well as novel styles of pottery and burial practices arrived in the Chalcolithic. In addition, there has been a wealth of new data to inform complex questions of identities and relationships. The terms of archaeological debate for this period have been permanently altered, leaving us with many issues.
This volume stems from the online day conference of the Neolithic Studies Group held in November 2021, which aimed to bring geneticists and archaeologists together in the same forum, and to enable critical but constructive inter-disciplinary debate about key themes arising from the application of advanced ancient DNA analysis to the study of the European Neolithic. The resulting papers gathered here are by both geneticists and archaeologists. Individually, they form a series of significant, up-to-date, period and regional syntheses of various manifestations of the Neolithic across the Near East and Europe, including particularly Britain and Ireland. Together, they offer wide-ranging reflections on the progress of ancient DNA studies, and on their future reach and character.
Pub Date: 29 Jun 2018
Imprint: Oxbow Books
The hunt is on for the most detailed histories of people in the remote past that we can achieve. We can now routinely, through Bayesian modelling of radiocarbon dates, construct much more precise chronologies than previously, down to the scales of lifetimes and generations, and even on occasion of decades. Better timing opens estimates of duration and the evaluation of the tempo of change. Rather than the conventional default perspective of generally slow change and much continuity, in blocks of time a couple of centuries long or more, we can now examine sequences that are often much more dynamic, quicker-changing, and from time to time more interrupted and punctuated than we had previously imagined. We can now write much more precise and ambitious narratives about the actions, decisions and choices of past people; the pre- can and should come out of prehistory. Despite the absence of written records, such narratives can be aligned much more closely with those of history and its concerns with the specific and the particular, and can serve to rid archaeology of its addictions to generalisation and fuzzy chronology.
Coming out of a recent major project funded by the European Research Council, and with the experience of Gathering Time (Oxbow Books 2011) also behind it, The Times of their Lives sets out this case. It considers the varying timescales of archaeology, history and anthropology, and the construction of precise chronologies. It examines the reach of precision in a series of case studies across Neolithic Europe to do with big themes of settlement, monumentality and materiality through the sixth to third millennia cal BC. It goes on to consider the implications of much more precise chronologies for narratives of social differentiation and change through the Neolithic sequence, and reflects on how to combine the varying timescales presented by turning points in the long term, by the slow time of daily life, subsistence practices and population growth, and by lifetime and generational developments. It ends by looking ahead to a future archaeology, exploiting the best of archaeological science, which can write precise and detailed narratives for the people of early history. Though focused on the European Neolithic, The Times of their Lives sets a challenge for archaeology as a whole.
Pub Date: 31 Dec 2016
Imprint: Oxbow Books
Series: Oxbow Insights in Archaeology
More than quarter of a century ago Richard Bradley published The Passage of Arms. It was conceived as An Archaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Hoards and Votive Deposits, but, as the author concedes, these terms were too narrowly focused for the complex subject of deliberate deposition and the period covered too short. A Geography of Offerings has been written to provoke a reaction from archaeologists and has two main aims. The first is to move this kind of archaeology away from the minute study of ancient objects to a more ambitious analysis of ancient places and landscapes. The second is to recognise that problems of interpretation are not restricted to the pre-Roman period. Mesolithic finds have a place in this discussion, and so do those of the 1st millennium AD. Archaeologists studying individual periods confront with similar problems and the same debates are repeated within separate groups of scholars – but they arrive at different conclusions. Here, the author presents a review that brings these discussions together and extends across the entire sequence. Rather than offer a comprehensive survey, this is an extended essay about the strengths and weaknesses of current thinking regarding specialised deposits, which encompass both sacrificial deposits characterised by large quantities of animal and human bones and other collections which are dominated by finds of stone or metal artefacts. It considers current approaches and theory, the histories of individual artefacts and the landscape and physical context of the of places where they were deposited, the character of materials, the importance of animism and the character of ancient cosmologies.
Pub Date: 30 Nov 2013
Imprint: Sidestone Press
Salt was a commodity of great importance in the ancient past, just as it is today. Its roles in promoting human health and in making food more palatable are well-known; in peasant societies it also plays a very important role in the preservation of foodstuffs and in a range of industries. Uncovering the evidence for the ancient production and use of salt has been a concern for historians over many years, but interest in the archaeology of salt has been a particular focus of research in recent times.This book charts the history of research on archaeological salt and traces the story of its production in Europe from earliest times down to the Iron Age. It presents the results of recent research, which has shown how much new evidence is now available from the different countries of Europe. The book considers new approaches to the archaeology of salt, including a GIS analysis of the oft-cited association between Bronze Age hoards and salt sources, and investigates the possibility of a new narrative of salt production in prehistoric Europe based on the role of salt in society, including issues of gender and the control of sources.The book is intended for both academics and the general reader interested in the prehistory of a fundamental but often under-appreciated commodity in the ancient past. It includes the results of the author’s own research as well as an up-to-date survey of current work.About the author:Anthony Harding is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Exeter, UK, and an authority on the European Bronze Age. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and Chairman of Trustees of the journal Antiquity. From 2003-2009 he was President of the European Association of Archaeologists.