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.
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 article discusses the biological, economic, and cultural traits of animals in Bronze Age Europe, which are best compared in terms of resource mobility and reproduction rates. It first discusses the available evidences, such as animal remains and the formation of animal bone deposits. The article then looks at animal husbandry in Bronze Age Europe, and studies the trends of animal exploitation. The next section shows the role of animals – such as cattle, pigs, and goats – and notes that the contribution of game had decreased by the Middle Bronze Age due to the dwindling interest in exploiting wild resources. The article also considers the social and psychological implications of (mundane) meat consumption.
This chapter focuses on the archaeology of the first urban settlements of Roman type found in Germania Inferior. It first describes coloniae such as the Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium and Colonia Ulpia Traiana, along with the archaeological excavations carried out at the sites. It then turns to the vici, industrial settlements, and agricultural settlements, and concludes with a theoretical explanation of how various forms of urban centres arose in Lower Germany during the period between the Batavian revolt and the Gallic Empire.
This chapter begins with an overview of the preconditions encountered by the Romans in the area that was to become the province of Germania Superior, before discussing research on different types of civilian towns in the hinterland. The origin of the vici that existed during the High Empire is considered, along with the left and right banks of the Rhine. The chapter then examines the network of settlements that emerged during the High Empire, both in the region of the limes and on the left bank of the Rhine. It also looks at the establishment of the capitals of civitates, the transformation of military vici to civilian vici in urban settlements, the rise of industrial sites and settlements with special functions, the appearance of civitas capitals and vici, and the construction of public buildings. Finally, it describes some examples of urban settlements in Germania Superior.
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.
Balkan Neolithic and Chalcolithic communities lived in a mosaic of settings, providing a suite of complementary resources but dominated by upland regions. Four non-evolutionary phases can be distinguished in three millennia. Communities of ‘early farmers’ developed subsistence economies based largely upon Anatolian or Aegean domesticated plants and animals. Tells and flat sites showed regional variations, while other forms of material culture were found in each region. Social integration and improved farming techniques led to a higher degree of sedentism and settlement nucleation among ‘mature farmers’. Local and regional identities were marked materially by decorated wares and ritual equipment. The term ‘climax period’ refers to a period with significant material diversification and regionalization in all aspects of cultural identity, especially gold and copper metallurgy. In the ‘post-climax Chalcolithic’, different depositional strategies led to the reduction in quantity and diversity of material culture on small settlements, large corporate cemeteries, and the more frequent hoards.
The Bandkeramik Longhouses: A Material, Social, and Mental Metaphor for Small-Scale Sedentary Societies
This chapter draws on the author’s archaeological and ethnographic fieldwork in Europe and New Guinea. It explores the role of houses among the first agriculturalists in Europe. The house provides the material framework within which corporate social groupings exist, and is a fundamental aspect of their identity. The basic uniformity of LBK buildings informs us of the mental templates of their creators, and can be explained with reference to their egalitarian social organization, which would have mitigated the risk of initial colonization, and which the house helped to maintain. There are also variations, discussed with reference to the modular layout of houses—their front, central and back components, in particular. A global hypothesis is proposed: the more ‘very variable’ components an architectural tradition has, the more rapidly the culture can transform itself. Inversely, the more ‘uniform’ components there are, the longer the principles and rules of the society may last.
Marc Vander Linden
This chapter presents old and recent research themes on the Bell Beaker Phenomenon. After an extended discussion of the geographical distribution of the Bell Beaker groups and of its significance, the paper then focuses upon the overlooked question of the material variability of this archaeological complex. Particular attention is given to ceramics, from both morphological and decorative aspects, settlement pattern, and funerary practices. Thanks to the development of new scientific techniques, especially strontium isotope analysis, the question of the degree of human mobility of these groups is now back on the agenda. The resurgence of this last topic demonstrates the need for scholars interested in the Bell Beaker Phenomenon to keep an open mind, and to embrace a multiplicity of non-exclusive explanations, rather than the previously favoured monolithic models.
Benjamin W. Roberts
This article discusses the Bronze Age in Britain and Ireland, which lasted for at least seventeen centuries. It covers the ‘Chalcolithic’ period, which came before the swift and widespread use of tin-bronze. The discussion first emphasises that information about the Bronze Age is still being included in broader prehistoric narratives. It then observes that the island landscapes of Britain and Ireland might have naturally shaped the activities of its inhabitants during the Bronze Age. The article also describes the communities and livelihood that existed in Britain and Ireland in the Bronze Age, based on the various items which were unearthed during archaeological fieldwork.