Morten Ramstad, Tony Axelsson, and Anders Strinnholm
During the transition to the fourth millennium, large quantities of amber start being distributed over the landscapes of northern and north-eastern Europe. By exploring the handling and use of amber prior to and after the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, this chapter traces the transformation and cultural expressions connected to amber to gain insight into changing concepts of material culture, personhood, and materiality, transcending the evolutionary frameworks which dominate this period.
Angela Schlumbaum and Ceiridwen J. Edwards
This chapter begins by defining ancient DNA and providing a brief history of ancient DNA and its potential for archaeology, followed by discussions of the technological aspects of ancient DNA; ancient DNA methodology; and state of the art, advantages, and disadvantages of wetland/wet sites. Ancient DNA retrieval from waterlogged material remains poorly understood. In many cases, DNA is unfortunately completely destroyed. However, given the rapid evolution of technology, both of instrumentation and development of techniques (e.g., new methods to reduce inhibition), improved results from waterlogged material are expected in the future.
Mikhail M. Bronshtein, Kirill A. Dneprovsky, and Arkady B. Savinetsky
Remnants of one Paleoeskimo and several Neoeskimo cultural traditions have been revealed in the coastal regions of Chukotka since the mid-1940s. The Chukotka Paleoeskimo cultural tradition, discovered on Wrangel Island, is comparable with the Paleoeskimo cultures of North America—Old Whaling (Alaska) and Independence (Greenland). It existed from 1700 to 1400 B.C. The Neoeskimo tradition is represented in Chukotka by Old Bering Sea (OBS), Okvik, Birnirk and Punuk cultures, found on Chukotka’s shores from the south part of the Bering Strait to the mouth of Kolyma River. The earliest are dated to the end of the first millennium B.C., the latest to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries A.D. Chukotka archaeological sources point to close bonds between OBS, Birnirk and Punuk peoples. It is highly probable that a syncretic OBS-Birnirk-Punuk cultural community emerged in Chukotka from the end of the first millennium to the beginning of the second millennium A.D.
Arkadiusz Marciniak and Joshua Pollard
The onset of the Neolithic brought with it the establishment of new relations between people and animals, principally, through domestication, a shift to acquisition and control of livestock. It enabled the management of animals’ reproductive and productive potential, including the exploitation of animals for their secondary products and applications (such as milk, wool and textile, and as providers of traction power or transport). Their management brought about new rhythms of life, new roles and responsibilities, new gender roles and patterns of inheritance, and new potentials for sociality and sharing. However, the presence of animals also contributed to increased social tension.
This chapter charts the trajectory of change of Jomon period clay anthropomorphic figurines in the Japanese archipelago. The earliest specimens embodied the perception of the body and female bodily experiences rather than accurately representing the body itself. Emphasis gradually shifted from the material embodiment of unmediated bodily perception and experiences to the visual representation of the body. Through this process, the subject of the representation expanded from the female body to the bodies of various categories of being, including animals and fantastic/supernatural beings, and the figurines came to embody the mutual transformability. These beings were networked to form an ‘animistic’ cosmology whose successful reproduction was metaphorically linked to that of human life and community. The decline of the symbolic role of the female reproductive faculty as the universal referent in the prayer for communal well-being led to the end of the Jomon clay anthropomorphic figurines.
In recent decades the analysis of figurines has been theorized within the broader context of archaeology and material culture, and they have lately become the subject of discussions concerning embodiment, sexuality, performance, personhood, practice, and process. Instead of being separated from other areas of excavation, figurine studies are now more likely to be embedded in interdisciplinary research and to be the subject of scientific research. This review chapter begins with a discussion of figurines as material things in themselves, rather than reflections or resemblances of other externalities. More than other kinds of material culture, we want to know what figurines meant for their makers, because they evoke something so distinctly human. I then outline particular case studies at the forefront in the archaeological context, detailing how novel, explicitly interdisciplinary research is making new types of knowledge possible. I conclude with a series of interlinked studies from the site of Çatalhöyük.
Ethan E. Cochrane and Terry L. Hunt
The archaeological record of Oceania stretches over one-third of the earth’s surface with the first humans entering Oceania 50,000 years ago and with the last major archipelago settled approximately a.d. 1300. Oceania is often divided into the cultural-geographic regions of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Micronesia, but these divisions mask much variation, and they do not always accurately characterize the historical relationships among Oceania’s populations. Since the 1950s, archaeological researchers have investigated Oceania’s human and environmental past and have focused on colonization chronologies and the origins of different populations, the intensity and spatial scale of interaction between groups, and changes in social complexity through time and space with a particular concern for the development of chiefdoms. Oceanic archaeologists often use historical linguistics, human genetics, and cultural evolution models to structure their research on ancient Pacific island populations.
This article reviews the evidence and interpretation of the development of ritual traditions in the prehistoric Japanese archipelago prior to the appearance of Buddhism in mid-sixth century
Douglas J. Kennett
This article reviews archaeological evidence of the Archaic period (~7000–2000
The Atlantic has long held a key position within the broader question of the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Europe. Archaeological evidence suggests significant variability between the different geographical areas of the Atlantic coast both in the visibility of the Mesolithic and its nature. Scandinavia, the Low Countries, France, Britain and Ireland, and Iberia are considered. Burials, monumentality, settlements, exchange practices, and subsistence economy vary widely, thus common patterns are difficult to discern. The background to transition to the Neolithic is thus highly variable, and it is not surprising that the Early Neolithic in these regions can also be rather different. It is also becoming apparent that a lack of chronological control over the data has led to inclusion in the discussion of sites which do not belong to the earliest Neolithic. Their exclusion lessens the apparent contrasts between the periods, allowing a new picture to emerge.