Experimental firing of an oven inside a reconstructed building. Çatalhöyük/Turquia. Photo: J. Quinlan. Catalhoyuk.com.
DOHERTY, Chris. The Clay World of Çatalhöyük. A fine-grained perspective. Oxford: BAR Publishing, 2020. Resenha de: GASPARIC, Zibrat. Documenta Praehistorica, v.42, 2020.
Chris Doherty’s study focuses on the role of clay in the development of Çatalhöyük, the famous and largest Neolithic settlement in the Konya Plain in central Anatolia. The author offers a holistic approach to understand the interrelationship between all clay materials used at the site and the landscape. Çatalhöyük lies on the clay-rich bed of the former Pleistocene Lake Konya, which lacked local sources of stone, and this makes its position interesting as clay plays a dual role here, i.e. as the main landscape component and a raw material for different types of material culture at the site. The book is divided into 10 chapters and is supported with many illustrative figures and tables.
In the first chapter, The clay world of Catalhoyuk, Doherty first introduces the questions regarding the need to study clay in the Neolithic and presents the analysed archaeological site and its regional context.
At Çatalhöyük, the community was clearly familiar with the use of clay from the earliest building levels, and could skilfully exploit clay for a wide variety of domestic and symbolic uses. A lot of the related issues have already been studied in detail, but Doherty attempts to combine this data and answer a series of questions on topics such as: How was clay used at the site? What were the resources and how did these change? What was the nature of the landscape around the site? What was the relationship between the material culture and landscape? Was the site successful due to its clays? The research also is framed by Tim Ingold’s term taskcape, i.e. a socially constricted space defined by related human activities (Ingold T. 1993. The Temporality of the Landscape. World Archaeology 25(2): 152–174), although Doherty proposes a new term and tries to work with a ‘clayscape’, i.e. a clay-oriented taskscape for Çatalhöyük.
In the second chapter, Clay-based material culture studies at Catalhoyuk: a review, the author presents us with a brief review of publications that relate to the four main aspects of living with clay at Çatalhöyük: materials (clay artefacts), the technology of production, the resources available, and the clay-rich landscape of the site. Here, details on artefacts and materials such as mudbricks, plaster, pottery, clay balls, geometric clay objects, stamp seals, and figurines are presented with information and results on studies that focused on these individual types, as well as with a comment on problems that arouse from them. Doherty sees the major problem with these studies in the fact that each of these materials was researched singularly, and the clay material culture was mostly interpreted without any consideration of the raw materials and their distribution in the landscape.
In the third chapter, titled The clay landscape of Catalhoyuk, the author presents the results of landscape studies at the site and focuses mostly on the multi-year KOPAL project and its results (e.g., Roberts N. et al. 1999. Chronology and stratigraphy of Late Quaternary sediments in the Konya Basin, Turkey: Results from the KOPAL Project. Quaternary Science Reviews 18(4–5): 611–630). The project proposed a view of Çatalhöyük and its surrounding that were in stark contrast to Mellaart’s (Mellaart J. 1967. Catal Hoyuk: a Neolithic town in Anatolia. McGraw- Hill) and Cohen’s (Cohen H. R. 1970. The palaeoecology of south central Anatolia at the end of the Pleistocene and the beginning of the Holocene. Anatolian Studies 20: 119–137) visions of the site as centred on a grass steppe. The KOPAL project envisioned an area filled with backswamps and river channels in the Neolithic, and a drier landscape only at the end of the Neolithic, with the nearest area suitable for agriculture more than 10km away from Çatalhöyük. These results prompted Ian Hodder (Hodder I. 2006. The Leopard’s Tale: Revealing the Mysteries of Catalhoyuk. Thames & Hudson. New York), the excavator of the more recent excavations, to suggest that the site was chosen for its availability to clay more than for its agriculture potential.
The KOPAL project results were mostly disproven with archaeobotanical, faunal and other biogenic studies, as well as from clay studies conducted in previous work by Doherty (Doherty C. 2013. Sourcing the Lower Alluvium) to re-interpret Çatalhöyük’s local environment and that of the Southern Konya Plain. The alluvial system proposed by the KOPAL project is inappropriate for this physiographic setting.
An alternative alluvial system is thus proposed which, together with an acknowledgment of changes due to soil formation, presents a truer picture of the landscape context for the Neolithic clay deposits.
Here a view emerges that the landscape around the site was much drier than that proposed by the KOPAL model, and brings the narrative back to the wellwatered grassland setting already proposed by Mellaart and Cohen.
In chapter six, The Holocene alluvium – a clay for all purposes, the Holocene alluvium, i.e. a silty calcareous clay, is explored in more detail. Special focus is put on early mudbricks vs. mudbricks in the later occupation phases. The alluvium was used initially as it was a readily available surface clay, and as such an attractive raw material. After the South M phase these dark alluvial clays were no longer used for mudbricks, and the conflict arising between the continued use of this material and its corresponding fertile soils is seen as the probable cause for the sudden abandonment of dark clay mubricks.
In chapter seven, A common ground: the white marls and lake clays of the Konya Plain, the white marls are explored in more detail. This material was used for the final plaster layers of floors and walls and has already been extensively studied, but the burnt lime plaster technology, an obvious PPNB connection, that was proposed for the earliest layers at Çatalhöyük is questioned here. Doherty presents firm evidence that burnt lime plaster was more labour intensive to produce and complicated to use compared to the readily available white marl (which is strikingly obvious from the comparison of the operational sequences of both processes in Figure 7.5).
Next a micro-textural analysis is presented that proves the use of softlime, found in weathered Neogene limestone outcrops west and southwest of the settlement, was present at Çatalhöyük from the formation of the site onwards. As such, there is no solid archaeological evidence for burnt lime technology at Çatalhöyük.
Additionally, non-white marls are also presented in this section of the book, and these became more important after the South M phase, with the author arguing that the diversity of clays around the site was more important than white marl availability alone, as argued by Hodder (2006).
Çatalhöyük’s Clays. In I. H. Hodder (ed.), Substantive technologies at Catalhoyuk: reports from the 2000–2008 seasons. Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press: 51–66). These results suggest that Çatalhöyük was located in a landscape with localized wetlands, not in a continuous seasonal wetland with only a few dry areas.
The fourth chapter, Establishing the sequence of clay use, presents the clays identified by the artefact timelines to reconstruct the actual clay deposits that might have been present in Çatalhöyük’s landscape or have been brought from elsewhere. The main observed patterns of clay use include the use of alluvial dark clays in the earliest levels (i.e. Lower Alluvium in the KOPAL stratigraphy) for making mudbricks, and this then changes in the South M phase.
A similar observation can be made for mortars and plasters, clay balls, pottery, and geometric clay objects.
Only figurines were made from whatever clay was available at all occupation layers, while stamp seals show a lack of fabric variations and have a fixed composition.
Doherty also proposes using clay colour as a useful investigative approach as people at Çatalhöyük made full use of this in their material culture. Although colour is systematically recorded in excavation and post-excavation, it has not been interpreted in landscape terms (except in the KOPAL stratigraphy). Clay colour, as argued by Doherty, can provide the essential link between clay material culture, raw materials and landscape that allows clay use to be examined on all levels of engagement.
The author then presents the four fundamental clay groups identified at Neolithic Çatalhöyük, of which the first three are local materials (the dark alluvial clays, the white marls and the local calcareous red clays as a continuous sedimentary sequence, the colluvial clays), but the fourth is of non-local character (non-local non-calcareous red clays) and implies the transport of clays or finished artefacts. As these four groups also have different temporal ranges they provide the most logical framework for exploring life with clay at Çatalhöyük.
The following five chapters deal with these four clay groups and their interpretation in more detail.
Starting with Reinterpreting the Holocene alluvium: challenging Catalhoyuk’s clay foundation (Chapter 5), the author details the first of these four fundamental clay groups, the Holocene dark clays (i.e.
Chapter eight, Colluvium: the rise of new clay, looks at a new clay source recognized at Çatalhöyük, i.e. the colluvium which is an unconsolidated earth material that has been transported down the tell by gravity and accumulates at its base. The composition of the colluvium is a direct reflection of the material brought onsite, as it is a mixture of degraded mudbricks, plaster and mortar. This type of material, as argued by Doherty, was not only the dominant clay for mudbrick building after the South M phase at Çatalhöyük, but also had beneficial effects on the local landscape. The concept of a clay cycle is proposed and explored in more detail, as the dynamic link between clay material culture and landscape was fully developed only with the colluvium phase.
The proposed ‘clay cycle’ explains most of the high volume clay transitions at Neolithic Çatalhöyük.
In the ninth chapter, Arrivals from a distant clayscape, the only non-local clays used at Çatalhöyük are presented. These were used only for a single group of artefacts, specifically the pottery that appeared at South M and which then dominated until the later levels. These clays are the only departure from a full reliance of the Çatalhöyük people on nearby local clays. This change corresponds to the first use of mineral-rich ‘gritty’ clays that were first recorded by Mellaart, but their non-local character was not appreciated until the Hodder excavations.
Doherty presents the pottery forms as well as the full fabric sequence, established after petrographical examination of thin sections. Here convincing results are presented as the mineral inclusions in gritty wares clearly point to the use of non-local noncalcareous raw materials, as these inclusions are not present in the local calcareous clays. However, it is not clear whether clay or readily made pottery was transported to Çatalhöyük.
The final chapter, Conclusions, brings together the main topics discussed in the book as well as all the results which provides a more holistic approach to the clay-based material culture at Çatalhöyük and its place in the context of the local landscape. Even more importantly, Doherty shows how the site’s favoured location on the Konya Plain afforded both raw materials and an environment suitable for early farming, against the view presented by the prevailing KOPAL landscape model. This change to the landscape model will of course have major implications on how all aspects of life at Çatalhöyük are seen, as rightly pointed out by the author.
The factors behind non-local clay use have not been clearly established by this research, as Doherty notes himself, and it is therefore not clear whether pottery made from gritty clays was appreciated because it fitted a new preferred style, or whether technological superiority was a factor – only further work will be able to fully interpret what this variation points to. Nevertheless, Doherty’s book is an interesting multidisciplinary view of clay, clay material culture, and landscape, as well as the different variations that bind them. The book would benefit from some more figures of higher quality, but apart from this it is a well-researched, well-documented, thought-provoking, and inspiring book for any researcher dealing with clay raw materials, pottery, and landscape studies.
Andreja Zibrat Gasparic – Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana.
KRAUß, Raiko. Ovcarovo-Gorata. Eine frühneolitische Siedlung in Nordostbulgarien. Mit Beitragen von Gerwulf Schneider, Malgorzata Daszkiewicz, Ewa Bobryk, Nguyen Van Binh, Petar Zidarov, Florian Klimscha, Norbert Benecke und Elena Marinova (Archaologie in Eurasien 29). Bonn: Habelt-Verlag, 2014. 350p. Resenha de: GATSOV, Ivan; SIRAKOV, Nikolay. Documenta Praehistorica, v.43, 2016.
In the first half of the 1980s, lithic materials from the prehistoric settlement of Ovcarovo-Gorata in northern Bulgaria were studied by Vietnamese archaeologist Nguyen Van Binh. At that time, he was a doctoral student in the Department of Prehistory of the National Archaeological Institute and Museum Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. In 1985, Nguyen Van Binh completed his doctoral thesis “Prehistoric flint artifact assemblages from the Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene on the basis of materials from North East Bulgaria”, which presents the results of lithic assemblages processed from the site.
Three decades later, thanks to Raiko Krauss, the work of Nguyen Van Binh on the flint assemblages of this prehistoric settlement was published with his consent in Krauss’ monograph Ovarovo-Gorata. Eine fruhneolitische Siedlung in Nordostbulgarien. Archaologie in Eurasien, Herausgegeben von Svend Hansen, Band 29, DAI, Eurasien-Abteilung, Habelt- Verlag Bonn, 2014.
The study of flint assemblages from Ov≠arovo-Gorata by Nguyen Van Binh is one of the first comprehensive and professional studies in Bulgaria of chipped stone artefacts from the Neolithic period. Naturally enough, this analysis of flint assemblages bears the imprint of its time.
Work on the thesis was carried out in the early 80s and is consistent with the then prevailing methodological trends in lithic studies. These were associated with traditional technological and typological analyses, which still focused heavily on typology and the more formal treatment of technological aspects.
With regard to the work of Nguyen Van Binh, the valuable results of such a study of flint raw materials used in the preparation of flint tools should be particularly noted. The Neolithic flint industry at the prehistoric settlement of Ov≠arovo-Gorata has largely been associated with the use of local varieties of raw materials, which were processed mainly in the area of the settlement.
The analysis conducted by Nguyen Van Binh allows us to trace chaines operatoires stages within a prehistoric settlement as well as see that the core preparation stage was not done at the site under discussion.
The evidence for this is the absence of cortical flakes and the lower frequency of crest specimens compared to sites where core preparation occurred on site. Flint production focused mainly on the acquisition of flakes; moreover, the presence of splintered pieces was also noted. With regard to the core knapping process, the initial exploitation was linked to single platform specimens which were later transformed into two platform cores. The last stage of core knapping usually occurred on cores with an altered orientation – e.g., all surfaces were used. Nguyen Van Binh’s work revealed the relationship between technological characteristics and the type of raw material and nodule dimensions.
The lithic assemblage’s typological structure includes flakes, end scrapers, and retouched flakes; perforators and drills are relatively poorly represented, straight and oblique truncations, and denticuled tools and fragments. Microliths occur in single items in the form of micro end scrapers and bladelets. According to Nguyen Van Binh, this was due to the lack of sieving rather than other factors. It should be noted that some of the conclusions drawn by Wang Bin Ngun have not lost their relevance today, such as the similarity of Ovarovo-Gorata lithic assemblages and those of Ussoe I and Podgorica in northeastern Bulgaria.
On the other hand it is regrettable that the lithic assemblage was not available along with other groups of finds from the site in the monograph on Ov≠arovo- Gorata, so that the analysis could be updated and the possibilities for interpretation increased.
Van Binh assumed that they were at least two chaines operatoires, one of which is relatively poorly represented – for lamellar production (see bladelet cores – Abb.130: 1–3 and bladelet/microbladelet debitage products – Abb. 152: 9; Abb. 164: 6; Abb. 171: 1, 3; Abb. 173: 3–5, 7, 8, 19; Abb. 174: 4; Abb. 184: 1, 4, 5, 11). While there are no data on the processing of these bladelets in geometric microliths (which may be due to the lack of sieving and washing), there is still a series of retouched microlithic forms, sufficiently distinctive semi-circular and circular micro end scrapers (Abb. 155: 3, 10–12; Abb. 159: 9–12).
Although these elements are less represented in the Ov≠arovo-Gorata lithic collection, they deserve more attention than they were given years ago in Nguyen Van Binh’s dissertation.
The quality of illustrations is very high and allows one to get a good idea of the core types and retouched tools, all of which are accompanied by technical and typological characteristics.
It should be pointed out that it was Krauss’s ambition to present as fully as possible the results of different studies from this settlement in order to create a general background for studies of the Neolithic in the Central and Eastern Balkans. Although these studies were done more than 30 years ago, most of Nguyen Van Binh’s conclusions are relevant today and have their place and weight in the study of the Neolithic in the Lower Danube basin.
The professional level of the study of chipped-stone assemblages as presented by Nguyen Van Binh in the monograph Ov≠arovo-Gorata is undoubtedly to the great merit of Kraus, to whom we owe the invaluable opportunity to add these almost unknown data to our general scientific knowledge and to advance the debate on Neolithisation in Southeast Europe.
Ivan Gatsov – New Bulgarian University, Sofia.
Nikolay Sirakov – National Archaeological Institute and Museum, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia.
THOMAS, Julian. The Birth of Neolithic Britain: An Interpretive Account. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Resenha de: SRAKA, Marko. Documenta Praehistorica, n.21, 2014.
The Birth of Neolithic Britain is the fourth major work by the acclaimed Julian Thomas, one of the leading proponents of interpretive archaeology or archaeology informed by philosophy, anthropology and discussions in the arts and social sciences in general.
After exposing the assumption and prejudices of archaeologists’ narratives of the Neolithic and presenting innovative explanations of the shift from hunting-gathering to farming as well as other issues in Rethinking the Neolithic (1991; reworked and updated version Understanding the Neolithic in 1999), questioning Western conceptualisations of time, identity, materiality with the help of archaeological case studies in the ‘Heideggerian’ Time, Culture and Identity (1996) and further contextualised archaeology as part of a (post)modern worldview in Archaeology and Modernity (2004), this book seems to be a relevant continuation of Thomas’s work. This is probably the first significant work on Neolithisation since Graeme Barker’s global overview The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory (2006, Oxford: Oxford University Press), this time with a focus on Europe and particularly Britain.
The book is divided into thirteen lengthy chapters organised and titled in a way which adds clarity to the structure of the text: (1) Introduction: The Problem, (2) The Neolithisation of Southern Europe, (3) The Neolithisation of Northern Europe, (4) The Neolithisation of Europe: Themes, (5) The Neolithic Transition in Britain: A Critical Historiography, (6) Mesolithic Prelude?, (7) Times and Places, (8) Contact, Interaction, and Seafaring, (9) Architecture: Halls and Houses, (10) Architecture: Timber Structures, Long Mounds, and Megaliths, (11) Portable Artefacts: Tradition and Transmission, (12) Plants and Animals: Diet and Social Capital, and (13) Conclusion: A Narrative for the Mesolithic-Neolithic Transition in Britain.
While not claiming to be a complete survey of Neolithic archaeology in Britain, much less Europe, the extent of the bibliography alone, comprising some 1400 references, is an indicator that this is a detailed study, dealing with a diverse variety of geographical regions, themes, approaches and explanations related to the Neolithisation process. Fundamentally, this book represents a critical overview of the diverse narratives and empirical data used to explain the complex process of transformations from predominantly hunting and gathering to predominantly farming lifeways in Britain and Europe.
Chapters 1–4, dealing with Neolithisation in different parts of Europe are, as the author suggests, intended to present the “progressive transformations” of the Neolithic through time, the diversity of Neolithic societies across Europe and provide “… comparative case studies against which the British evidence can be set” (p. 7). In the first three chapters, the author comments on a wide variety of empirical evidence and presents his own explanations of the data, starting with the Franchthi cave in Greece and progressing through the continent to the megalithic monuments of Brittany. In chapter 4, the author presents “… unifying themes that characterized the opening of the Neolithic in various parts of Europe” (p. 101) starting with an overview of how the Neolithic was and is defined and Neolithisation conceptualised, then focusing on the different perspectives of migrationism and genetic evidence, the transmission of knowledge and skills, Mesolithic lifeways, the ‘Neolithic frontier’, subsistence strategies and feasting, houses and ‘house societies’ etc. In chapter 5, the author focuses exclusively on Britain with a ‘critical historiography’ in which he reviews the history of research of the British Neolithic, beginning with Sir John Lubbock, and considers the work of major authorities on the subject: Childe, Piggott, Hawkes, Clark, Humphrey, Whittle, Dennell, Kinnes, Hodder and, reflectively, himself. He then comments extensively on the migrationist and diffusionist arguments of Cooney, Sheridan and Rowley- Conwy, whom he labels ‘revisionists’. Chapter 6 sets the stage for the rest of the book by presenting the evidence of Mesolithic lifeways. In the earlier part of chapter 7, the author dedicates a lot of attention to the results of the Bayesian modeling approach to 14C calendar chronologies (Whittle A., Healy F. & Bayliss A. 2011. Gathering time: dating the Early Neolithic enclosures of Southern Britain and Ireland, cited in the Bibliography) and reviews the dating evidence from early British Neolithic sites. The rest of the book, constituting roughly one third of the whole volume, comprises a detailed consideration of the empirical evidence and ideas about a range of themes, starting with contact, interaction and seafaring in chapter 8, followed by architecture (halls, houses, timber structures, long mounds and megaliths), portable artefacts (ceramics, stone tools), landscapes, plant and animal remains. Of special notice here is the hypothesis that “… livestock in general, and cattle in particular, may have been one of the principal factors that attracted hunters and gatherers to the Neolithic way of life” (p. 430).
“The formation of more bounded social groups accumulating discrete herds of cattle suggests an increasingly competitive social milieu”, which expressed itself in “feasting, gift-giving, strategic marriages, and the struggle for prestige”, but also in “inter-personal violence … linked to the emergence of endemic raiding, acquiring livestock and labour by foul means as well as fair” (p. 418). Cattle can thus be regarded as Neolithic ‘social capital’. Considering the emphasis on practices related to cattle herding, this book would benefit from more discussion of lipid analyses and dairying (e.g., the work of Richard P. Evershed, Mark S. Copley and Lucy J. E. Cramp).
Innovative ideas and novel explanations of the empirical evidence from Europe and Britain can be found in every chapter, and it would not be fair to isolate a one in particular here. Generally, the explanations can be characterised as coming predominantly from a well-argued, indigenist neolithisation perspective, although the author specifically denies his is an ‘indigenist’ (p. 419), and it is true that he presents a balanced and well-argued account in which the distinction between ‘indigenist’ and ‘migrationist’ perspectives cease to be valid. The overall picture this narrative presents is of a “mosaic” of different lifeways in which various social entities, such as the “LBK social network” (p. 47), or different identities are conceived as permeable and fluid concepts. We notice a very pragmatic use of socialtheory- informed archaeology, so that the text is not overburdened with philosophical discussions. Actually, there are almost no references to philosophical, sociological or anthropological works. Certain narrative elements bear a resemblance to an archaeological ‘school of thought’ which could be called ‘Symmetrical’ or ‘Relational’ archaeology: “… while Neolithic societies in Europe were extremely diverse, they were generally characterized by a new kind of relationship between humans and non-humans … Although post-glacial hunters had been deeply embedded in and attuned to their material world, there was a qualitative difference in the ways in which Neolithic people used material things to articulate social relationships, to extend human presence, and to frame and channel social interaction. We might say that while Mesolithic societies were principally composed of relationships amongst people, and that they operated in worlds of animals and things, Neolithic societies became heterogeneous meshworks in which people, things, and animals were mutually implicated to a greater degree” (p. 421–422). This passage perhaps best illustrates the way in which neolithisation is explained in the book.
Interestingly, books dealing with neolithisation, and this one is no exception, usually review only the earliest Neolithic evidence in individual regions, even if on an widening geographical scale, this means considering evidence separated by several millennia.
Neolithisation, or the transformation from hunter- gatherer to farmer’s lifeways, is therefore seen as a universal global phenomenon, which it certainly is, and is approached from a comparative perspective.
However, much could be gained also from a more ‘historical’ consideration of roughly contemporary evidence. In this book, for instance, there could be more consideration of the circular enclosures of the Lengyel, Stroked Pottery, Michelsberg, Chasséen, Funnel Beaker and other cultures, some of which are contemporary with the early British Neolithic and are sometimes seen as precursors to the early Neolithic enclosures in Britain. Furthermore, this book adheres to the conventional model of European neolithisation, at least in the structure of the first few chapters, beginning in Greece and ending in Britain. In his review of the book, Detlef Gronenborn (Antiquity 88(341) 2014: 989–990) notices the lack of consideration of recent archaeogenetic research, which he says, “… may demonstrate a hesitance within British Neolithic archaeology to accept the growing evidence which indicates that, for several millennia, some regions of Europe experienced major population changes”.
Rather than focusing on the still sketchy and interspersed archaeogenetic evidence, some of which is nevertheless presented in the book (p. 109–113), we would rather focus on a different issue, related perhaps to Gronenborn’s observation cited above. While we personally applaud the enthusiasm with which Thomas writes about the Gathering Time project of Alasdair Whittle and his colleagues and agree with its impact on the “post-Gathering Time era of Neolithic studies” (p. 3), we noticed a comparable lack of consideration of other, perhaps no less revolutioDocumenta Praehistorica XLI (2014) book review 307 nary approaches to Neolithic studies. For example, no mention is made of the recent work by Stephen Shennan and his team at University College London (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/euroevol) dealing with the Neolithic from a more demographic and cultural evolutionary perspective and pointing to links between population fluctuations and cultural change.
We could characterise Gathering Time as a bottomup approach and the EUROEVOL project as a topdown approach in the utilisation of 14C data and ultimately in Neolithic studies. However, both kinds of approach are needed, we think, if we are to understand the complex process of neolithisation from a multiscalar perspective. Furthermore, there is a lack in the book of at least a comment or a critique of the research on the impact of climate changes on the demographics and lifeways of Neolithic communities, mainly in continental Europe (Bernhard Weninger and others, also Detlef Gronenborn) but also Britain (e.g., Bonsall C. et al. 2002. Climate change and the adoption of agriculture in north-west Europe, cited in the Bibliography).
There is no question, however, that the Birth of Neolithic Britain is a big step forward in understanding the transformations from hunting/gathering to farming regionally, continentally and globally. It represents a holistic synthesis of the current understanding of the neolithisation process in Britain and should be on the bookshelf of every student and researcher interested not only in the British but the European Neolithic as well.
Marko Sraka – University of Ljubljana
SOUVATZI, Stella; HADJI, Athena (Eds.). Space and Time in Mediterranean Prehistory (Routledge Studies in Archaeology). London: Routledge, 2014. 304p. Resenha de: SRAKA, Marko. Documenta Praehistorica, v.41, 2014.
The collection of papers Space and Time in Mediterranean Prehistory is an outcome of the collaboration between Stella Souvatzi, who regularly writes on spatiality within social archaeological themes such as households, as in her recent book A Social Archaeology of Households in Neolithic Greece, and Athena Hadji, whose Berkeley PhD thesis was entitled on The Construction of Time in Aegean Archaeology.
The editors invited researchers from a predominantly interpretative (post-processual) archaeological tradition who deal with Mediterranean prehistory and included a few selected revised contributions to the similarly named session at the 16th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists in the Hague. The collection of papers contains 15 chapters by archaeologists, anthropologists and an architect.
This timely volume is an anticipated continuation of the critique of space and time as passive and homogenous backdrops to human life, and treats them as socially constructed, as well as inseparable from human lives and experience. It not only restates the urgency of a theoretical discussion of the conceptualisation of space and time in archaeology, but attempts, perhaps for the first time in archaeology, to treat them as inseparable and as essential to understanding past social relations at different scales. The volume is also innovative in its focus on the whole of the prehistoric Mediterranean, which is too often fragmented in narratives along national, linguistic, academic and other boundaries. The volume stems from
“… the ever-growing interest in space and spatiality across the social sciences; the comparative neglect of time and temporality; the lack in the existing literature of an explicit and balanced focus on both space and time; and the large amount of new information coming from the prehistoric Mediterranean”, which serves “… as an empirical archaeological background for the application and detailed analysis” (Preface, p. xv).
The first chapter, written by the editors, serves as a theoretical introduction to the volume and reviews some focal points of research into Mediterranean prehistory, which is then further developed in the following chapter by Robert Chapman. Although not complete in its coverage of the theoretical discussions, the editors’ introduction separately presents the conceptualisation of both space and time first in the social sciences in general and then within theoretical archaeology. The volume is an engaging and diverse collection of papers, and the reader can find plenty of useful information and thought-provoking ideas. The editors point to diverse and interesting topics and concepts applied to Mediterranean prehistory in this volume (p. 19–20): houses, households, settlements and communities (Stavrides, Harkness, Watkins, Düring, Marketou, Márquez- Romero & Jiménez-Jáimez and Athanasiou), urban space and planning (Athanasiou), architecture and the built environment (Harkness, Meegan and Márquez- Romero & Jiménez-Jáimez), the social production of space and the dialectical relationship between people and space (Stavrides), embodied space, movement (Harkness, Meegan and Skeates), cultural diversity and differences, social transitions, meaning, identity and memory (Skeates, Miller Bonney, Marketou, Murrieta-Flores and Yasur-Landau and Cline), the concepts of time in terms of social memory, identity and continuity, the transmission of social knowledge and reproduction of architecture (Meegan, Watkins, Düring, Miller Bonney Murrieta-Flores, Márquez- Romero & Jiménez-Jáimez and Yasur-Landau & Cline) as well as residential mobility, discontinuity, abandonment and destruction (Skeates and Marketou).
Many contributors deal with similar topics and concepts, but approach them from different spatio-temporal scales. The editors (p. 19) recognise the importance of time perspectivism and of
“… a multiscalar approach to both space and time that will explore linkages between a whole range of spatial an temporal relationships”, critique the overuse of the large-scale, long-term approach and express the “… lack of a sense of short-term and small-scale social action and the bewildering and contradictory complexity of everyday lived reality”.
However, many contributors retain the large-scale, long-term approach, even if enriched by perspectives offered by local contexts, by selecting case studies from across the Mediterranean region or the millennia-long periods of prehistory (Watkins, Düring, Bonney). Some articles are more descriptive (Marketou, Yasur-Landau & Cline) with the addition, of course, of a theoretical commentary.
A critical weakness of the volume is the lack of more contributions from archaeologists more affiliated with what it is known as archaeological science, since space and time are central concepts for archaeology in general. The volume would certainly benefit from being more of a bridge between theory and practice in archaeology. When discussing time, the authors, informed of the development in anthropological theory, go further than most other theoreticians; for example, they present a critique of the established dichotomy of linear versus cyclical time, one identified with Western thought and the other with ‘traditional’ or ‘primitive’ societies, as well as the dichotomy of objective and subjective time (p. 6). But they do not problematise the related dichotomy of abstract and substantial time or measured time (chronology) and experienced time, which was established by proponents of interpretative archaeology Michael Shanks and Christopher Tilley in their book Social Theory and Archaeology (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press) and which continues to polarise the treatment of time and perpetuates “The Two Cultures” (cf. C. P. Snow’s 1959 lecture) divide in archaeology. Substantial versus abstract time is of course a valid observation, but it tends to alienate proponents of social archaeology on the one and archaeological science on the other hand. The editors as well as the contributors (with a couple of exceptions: Skeates, Murrieta-Flores) do not attempt to bridge this gap. Most of the articles are written from a phenomenological perspective, which is not contradictory to, and would benefit from, ‘scientific’ approaches, such as a variety of spatial GIS analyses and temporal Bayesian modelling of calendar chronologies.
Nevertheless, this collection of papers is innovative in that it specifically tries to link the top-down with the bottom-up, the large-scale with the small-scale, the long-term with short-term, and most importantly, structure with agency. As expected, the contributors achieve this with varying success. The diversity of themes and views conveyed by individual papers preclude further summary in the context of this short review. We would, however, like to highlight the excellent paper by Patricia Murrieta-Flores (chapter 11). The author of the paper Space and Temporality in Herding Societies (p. 196-213) discusses prehistoric pastoralism and transhumance since the Chalcolithic in the Sierra Morena mountain range of the Iberian Peninsula and integrates space and time through GIS analyses. Time is introduced into the spatial GIS analysis with the help of cost-time models and by accounting for the different types of pasture available during different seasons. The analyses show patterns of regular distances between settlements in travel time. Furthermore, by mapping megaliths, she is able to show that they are located along preferred herding routes. According to the author, “For herders, to travel through the landscape is also to travel through time, as movement resonates with the seasonal changes of the landscape”.
Furthermore, “Through time, the monuments as works of the ancestors might have served as material reminders of the deep past, of a temporality that extended beyond the seasonal cycle, where every movement acquired time depth, becoming the reiteration of the actual movements of the ancestors” (p. 209). The monuments along the herding routes thus connect the immediate here-and-now experience of the traveling herder with social memory, the deep past and the ancestors, who perhaps tracked the same routes. In a way, the herder travels both through space and time. We believe this paper is the closest to the ideal to which the volume aspires, namely the multiscalar integration of spacetime with social archaeology, and goes a step further with the much needed bridging of the divide between social archaeology and archaeological science.
In the last chapter, which serves as a discussion (p.262–291), Stephanie Koerner provides a useful commentary on the major themes and concepts in the volume and ‘contextualises’ the volume within the framework of a broader interdisciplinary discourse of space and time and how these relate to concepts such as structure and agency. The discussion is a challenging yet compelling philosophical text, which adds the finishing touches to the whole volume by stressing the relevance of issues explored in the volume not just for archaeology, but for the social sciences in general. Space and Time in Mediterranean Prehistory is an exciting and innovative collection of papers that should be read by students and researchers interested in the prehistoric Mediterranean, conceptualisations of space and time and those interested in social archaeology and anthropology in general.
Marko Sraka – University of Ljubljana
BORIC, Dusan; ROBB, John (Eds). Past Bodies. Body-Centered Research in Archaeology. Oxford: Oxbow Books; The Cromwell Press, 2008. Resenha de: BUDJA, Mihael; PETRU, Simona. Documenta Praehistorica, v.37, 2010.
“The body in archaeology is both omnipresent and invisible.” (Bori! and Robb, p.1) The book is a collection of essays resulting from two symposia, ‘Past Bodies’ in Cambridge in 2006, and ‘Acting and Believing: An Archaeology of Bodily Practices’, held at the Society for American Archaeology meetings at San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2006. The book is in four sections, with papers grouped by general theme or approach in order to draw attention to cross-disciplinary linkages. The first section presents a general introduction to social theories of the body and an overview of relevant archaeological methodologies.
The second presents studies of the represented body, and the third, studies of the body in death. The fourth section contains studies which cut across traditional domains of study such as representation and burial, and focus upon the socially contextualised body at particular historical moments.
The articles range from the hunter-gatherers of the Upper Palaeolithic through modern British populations. The majority refers to the European sequence, but there are discussions of Near Eastern, North American and Mesoamerican cases. The book offers three theoretical implications: (i) it underscores the productive richness of the concept of the body in archaeology; (ii) it shows that the archaeology of the body is not the monopoly of a single province of archaeology, particularly data-rich regions; (iii) it goes beyond such stereotypes and prejudices as ‘symbols, gender, agency, social relations and ritual experience, etc., are all very well, but you can only do them where you have texts’.
The book’s most significant contribution is its evidence and argumentation highlighting the partiality of the, traditionally Western, homo clasus conception of the embodied being. It accomplishes this through various demonstrations of the ‘relationality of embodied subjects’ and ‘fractal thinking’. It also addresses issues relating to questions of epistemology (knowledge and representation of the body), phenomenology (lived representations of the body), and ontology (the material bodily properties and capacities of our antecedents). The case studies provide explorations of corporeal knowing, sensing and being, and archaeology’s concern with the ‘open’ and varied relationships that exist between embodied subjects and the social bodies of tribe and society.
Mihael Budja and Simona Petru
BORIC, Dusan (Ed). Archaeology and Memory. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2010. 210p. Resenha de: PRIJATELJ, Agni. Documenta Praehistorica, v.37, 2010.
Stimulated by a growing interest in the issue of memory, remembering and forgetting in the various fields of humanities and social studies, this volume illuminates the relationship between archaeology and memory. In doing so, it raises some perennial but also novel questions. What is the relationship between materiality and memory? What diverse mnemonic systems for inscribing the ‘past in the past’ can be discerned through archaeological records? How does archaeology understand time and, consequently, represent the past? What are the consequences of the interplay between the uses of memory and archaeological practice? Varied answers are provided by eleven contributors from the fields of archaeology, anthropology and the arts. As far as the organisation of the volume is concerned, twelve papers are organised into three sections. Following a theoretical introduction that gives an historical overview of the development of the concept of memory in philosophy (Bori!), there are seven papers (Whittle, Bori!, Tringham, Jones, Hanks, Boozer and Gutteridge) which are concerned with the theme of the ‘past in the past’. Six of these elaborate on diverse prehistoric and classical case studies from the Eurasian regional contexts. The seventh, on the other hand, is written as a personal recollection of how the creation of the archaeological record has changed through time with the development of digital media (Tringham). The final section in the book comprises four papers which explore the archaeologies and memories of the contemporary past, three of them through selected case studies (Filippucci, Weiss, Baji!) and the fourth from a theoretical perspectives (Buchli).
A number of key points arise throughout the twelve chapters. First, memory which can be seen as a curated and fragmented past embedded in the present is expressed through incorporated bodily actions and performances. However, it can be also inscribed as a text into material objects, monuments, landscapes and places by the practical engagements of people with the world. Several philosophical concepts, particularly concepts of trace, citation and repetition/recapitulation (Bori! p. 16–21, 24–26) which are of practical relevance for examining the relation between remembering, forgetting, and materiality, allow the contributors to present a number of case studies of materialised memories embodied in the forms of dwelling structures (Whittle, Bori!, Boozer), monumental public architecture (Gutteridge), burial structures (Whittle, Bori!, Jones, Hanks), votive offerings (Jones), landscapes of conflict, violence and war (Filippucci, Weiss), as well as digital archaeological archives (Tringham) and virtual museum (Baji!).
Second, singularity is not in the nature of time – on the contrary, it is inherent to each segment of time to be composite. Hence, the present (also the present in the past) is formed as a palimpsest, consisting not only of the present time, but also of fragments of different pasts. This phenomenon is most readily observed in our physical environment, as is shown by an illustrative case study by Gutteridge. The author describes the locale of the Arch of Constantine as a place where past and present conjoin in the form of historical topography, peopled by tourists, street merchants and men dressed as gladiators and centurions equipped with 21st century gadgets such as mobile phones. Similarly, the distinction between the past and the present is dissolved in the Arch itself: spoliated reliefs from at least three older monuments are used intentionally to achieve an effect of timelessness along with the elision of biographical and cosmic time. As Gutteridge stresses, this principle of selective curation negates the linear temporal principle of historic time and instead creates a bricolage of events and their material manifestations that are “moved, shuffled, and relocated in the spatial and temporal landscape, … never fully out-oftime” (p. 168).
Third, following the sociological distinction between individual and collective memory, the majority of authors seek to examine diverse engagements with the world that are involved in creating collective identities and collective memories. When, for example, Whittle (p. 38) writes on dwelling and the everyday activities of “building structures, herding animals, tending crops, procuring raw materials, interacting with co-residents, neighbours and others, and attending to the level of floodwaters when they came” that came about in the Neolithic settlement of Ecsegfalva 23 in the Great Hungarian Plain, he brings to the forefront social knowledge and collective memories as preconditions for daily life. On the other hand, as shown by Boozer, archaeology is able (in particular instances) also to touch upon the topic of memory in relation to personal identity construction and maintenance. The case study of an elite male who decorated his Roman Egyptian house in Amheida by the end of third century with Homeric mythological scenes reveals the particular strategies used by a wealthy individual to define his position within the imperial framework.
Fourth, the past living on in the form of materialised memories returns and is never completely gone. Weiss’s paper, which explores the landscapes of conflict and violence created in the 1990s Balkan wars, presents the immense power of mutilated landscape and how these are able to pull victims into a loop of reliving past atrocities. The author asks that a more equitable role for material evidence be given in relation to written documents and witness testimonies in international criminal tribunals, since “there is a profound tenacity inherent in certain objects, markers and monuments in the landscape – a tenacity tending towards the continual recapitulation of the intentions and agendas of power” (p. 192).
Fifth, similar to memory itself, archaeological objects, places and landscapes often convey traces of repetition/ recapitulation. This is illustrated by two Meso/ Neolithic contexts of the Danube gorges (Bori!): in the case of Lepenski Vir, older, Early Mesolithic hearths were (partially) superimposed by later trapezoidal structures; while in the case of Vlasac, burials were superimposed at the same location for several generations. According to the author, both examples convey the principle of reproduction which enables the past to live on in disguised form in the present, yet, on the other hand, this brings with it – besides tradition – innovation and change.
Sixth, the nature of historical time is dissimilar to the nature of archaeological time: while the former consists of dates and chronologies which arrange singular events into a unilinear sequence, the latter represents the fusion of fragmented and materialised pasts and the present entwined in a continual dialogue.
Gutteridge brilliantly illuminates this point by comparing the nature of archaeological narratives with the principle of spoliation:
“In archaeology, this spoliation, … The repetitive rhythmic movement between the past and the present, the removal of individual instants from their embedded layers of context, the shuffling of our kaleidoscopic attempts to combine different pasts to speak to the present, and our refusal to let these fragments fall away silently from the future, all play a role in the ways in which we create and interpret our cacophonous spoliated memorials to the archaeological past” (p.168).
These are the highlights of this book. Yet I would also like to point out to some of the difficulties that arise when the concept of memory is applied to archaeological discourse. The biggest hindrance stems from the fact that memory is primarily a psychological process and therefore difficult to trace in archaeological records. While the premise of memory embedded in materiality creates a bridge between the material and the immaterial, it does not necessarily help to recognise the fundamental distinctions between influence and memory or repetition/replication and continuity in the archaeological material itself. Indeed, dwellings were built on older dwellings; burials were reused or superimposed over older burials. Yet how can we penetrate behind the general statement that this was a meaningful reuse of space and grasp the actual meanings behind it? Even more so, since the psychological, social and cultural experience behind these acts belongs to a world and time of ‘others’. As exemplified by case studies of prehistoric burials (cf. Whittle, Bori!, Jones, Hanks), a vast range of speculations and unknowns is involved in interpreting archaeological traces of past commemorative acts. It is not uncommon that authors adhere to very general statements: a long barrow in Southern Britain is seen as a “loci of diverse remembrance” (p. 43); a superposition of burials at the site of Vlasac “evokes strict rules and closely- followed observances of the ‘ancestral’ ways” (p. 64); in North-western Scotland “the deposition of grave goods impress themselves upon memory” (p.114); in Iron Age Eurasia “elaborate tombs, … provided important physical contexts for both inscribed and embodied memory practices surrounding the lifestyle of the warrior” (p. 134). This kind of ambiguity in formulations originates from the constraints of archaeological material that inhibit the recognition of a particular and intentional commemorative significance in preserved traces. What becomes obvious when reading through the book is that the concept of memory is used to much greater effect in the case studies of explicit intentionality of monumental public architecture, textual narratives (in this volume, Documenta Praehistorica 2010 book reviews 341 presented by studies of figurative depictions, digital archives and virtual museum) and our contemporary pasts which allow us to recognise our intense psychological, social and cultural engagement with them.
Archaeology and Memory contains a wealth of interesting case studies and ideas. While the theoretical chapters (Boric, Buchli) are challenging, the book’s subject matter and its interdisciplinary scope make reading highly rewarding. This book should be an indispensable read for anyone ready to expand the range of questions on the past and to reflect on the ethical responsibilities of archaeological narratives.
Agni Prijatelj – Durham University
BAHN, Paul G. (Ed.) An Enquiring Mind: Studies in Honor of Alexander Marshack. Oxford; Oakville: Oxbow Books. 332p. Resenha de: PRIJATELJ, Agni. Documenta Praehistorica, v.37, 2010.
This volume represents a tribute to Alexander Marshack – an eminent science journalist and photographer who came into the field of Palaeolithic research in 1963 at the age of forty-five as a self-taught outsider with the idea that “certain marks, etched in patterns on bone, represented a calendrical system” (p. 3). In the next forty years, Alexander Marshack contributed enormously to the field of Palaeolithic art research; particularly through his work on the cognitive abilities of early humans and themes such as notational systems, female imagery, finger flutings and net-like motifs, archaeo-astronomy, but also by introducing the new techniques of infrared, ultraviolet and fluorescence light into examining cave paintings.
In accordance with the various research interests of the late Alexander Marshack, twenty seven contributors in twenty two chapters elaborate on such diverse themes and topics as mnemonic systems, rituals, evolution and human cognition, and Palaeolithic art.
Their expertise in various fields, ranging from archaeology, anthropology, ethnography, astronomy and economics, along with their personal acknowledgements of the inspiration of Marshack’s work, testify to his great legacy. Although the papers in this volume are organised alphabetically, this short overview presents them in four sections as recognised by themes they share.
The first thematic section in the volume comprises two papers (Soffer, Tattersall) that seek to explore evolution and human cognition. Soffer, who is concerned with the ‘Neanderthal enigma’, argues against interpreting the Middle to Upper Palaeolithic transition as a revolution, and against the use of environmental determinism for the last Neanderthal niches, since
“it is not only Neolithic or Bronze Age “man” that made “himself” but so did “his and hers” Middle and Upper Paleolithic predecessors – creating both their cultures and biologies through day to day decisions and their intended and unintended consequences” (p. 303).
If Soffer stresses as the principal element of modernity “institutionalized interdependence – the various social ties that create permanent inter-sex bonds between adult individuals through such grouping principles as marriage, kinship, and descent ideologies” (p. 290), Tattersall seeks to explore modernity through the advent of symbolic cognition in Homo sapiens. The author elaborates on the view that the symbolic intellect is
“the result of a qualitative rather than a quantitative revolution in hominid cognition: something equivalent in scale developmentally to the unanticipated and apparently abrupt appearance of the essentially modern hominid body skeleton much earlier in hominid evolution” (p. 320–321).
Four papers in the volume (Aveni, Hudson, Krupp and Schmandt-Besserat) are concerned with mnemonic systems. While Hudson tracks the evolution of counting systems from the Palaeolithic to the earliest city-states and stresses the continuous importance of calendrical systems for social structures, Schmandt- Besserat compares and contrasts two major symbolic systems of art and writing to conclude that not only did “The two communication systems had a different origin, history and evolution” but also “art became a universal phenomenon, writing remained the privilege of a few societies” (p. 266). Aveni contributes to the topic by presenting a particular type of Mesoamerican petroglyph – pecked crosses, whose various uses were connected to celestial phenomena and calendars. A paper by Krupp, on the other hand, explores an ancient Greek constellation myth that captures the seasonality of the rains.
The third thematic section in the volume consists of two chapters (Frank, Lorblanchet) that are concerned with rituals. While Frank examines masked figures visits in Europe during winter and links them to bear ceremonialism, Lorblanchet analyses various types of human traces in caves, some of which tend to imitate claw marks. The author interprets them as ritual remnants and “evidence for ritual activity in the heart of the paleolithic sanctuaries” (p. 165). By far the most extensive section in the book comprises chapters examining Paleolithic and rock art.
The contributors present diverse case studies, ranging from portable and parietal art from European and Near Eastern Paleolithic contexts (Belfer-Cohen & Bar-Yosef, Bosinski & Bosinski, Delluc & Delluc, d’Errico, Martin, Mussi, Otte, Pettitt & Bahn & Züchner, Sharpe & Van Gelder) to Altai Bronze age petroglyphs (Okladnikova) and Australian aboriginal rock art (Clegg). The paper by Belfer-Cohen and Bar-Yosef thus focuses on abstract and figurative art in the Near East which is dated to the late Pleistocene. The authors argue that some of the abstract Natufian markings, previously interpreted as decorations, might be notation marks, perhaps “markers of specific groups” (p. 32). While Bosinski and Bosinski analyse the representations of seals from the Magdalenian site of Gönnersdorf and interpret them as evidence of the long-range mobility of the group occupying a site 500 km away from the ocean, D’Errico re-examines plaquette 59 from the very same site with the oldest depiction of childbirth. The author draws attention to several new components of the engraved composition, most importantly to a third female figure.
According to the author, the depiction of childbirth in an upright position assisted by other women indicates that “relationships between women had attained a degree of complexity comparable to that of traditional societies in which these practices have been documented” (p. 107). Delluc and Delluc examine a particular aspect of Paleolithic art – depictions of animal and human eyes to illuminate the mind of Palaeolithic artists. Otte, on the other hand, focuses on the semantic qualities of cave art by an interesting comparison of Paleolithic signs with modern road markings and graffiti. The author aims to penetrate the codified meanings of parietal art by, first, examining primary units or ‘morphemes’ consisting of “drawings, outlines, colors and textures” (p. 229) and, second, by analyzing complex compositions and their relationship with the space and the viewer. While Martin publishes for the first time a detailed study of the engraved and carved block from the cave of Guoy, Mussi, on the other hand analyses the Upper Paleolithic Venus figurine of Macomer from Western Sardinia. Pettitt, Bahn and Züchner question the dating of Chauvet art to the Aurignacian and Gravettian periods as proposed by the Chauvet excavation team and convincingly argues on the basis of features, motifs and techniques ascribable to the later phases of the Upper Paleolithic, problems connected with the radiocarbon dates obtained, and the lack of parallels in the decorated caves of the region that “while one cannot rule out the possibility of a limited amount of Aurignacian art in Chauvet, by far the greater amount of its parietal figures should be attributed to the Gravettian, Solutrean and Magdalenian” (p. 257). Lastly, Sharpe and Van Gelder discuss various types of finger flutings – “the lines that human fingers leave when drawn over a soft surface” (p. 269) – which have been frequently overlooked in interpretations of Paleolithic art. By differentiating several forms of finger fluting on the basis of body movement and the number of fingers used, as documented in Rouffignac Cave, they open a new avenue for investigations of this particular type of sign.
I put this book down with mixed feelings. Reading through the collection of papers, I did not have the sense of a well integrated volume, primarily for two reasons: first, the quality of the papers varies (which is alluded to also by the editor; cf. p. x). Second, the alphabetical organisation of chapters enhances the sense of thematic incongruity. While it is not uncommon for Festschrifts to compile heterogeneous themes, it is also common to present the personal recollections of an honoured scientist (in this volume Marshack, Lamberg-Karlovsky) and a complete bibliography of the person whom the book is honouring.
Unfortunately, Marshack’s bibliography is missing from this volume. Nevertheless, several well-balanced, theoretically firmly grounded pieces made my reading enjoyable. In spite of the vast range of themes covered, I believe this is a book which will be read primarily by people working in the field of Paleolithic art.
Agni Prijatelj – Durham University
BAILEY, Geoff; SPIKINS, Penny (Eds.). Mesolithic Europe. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 27p. Resenha de: BUDJA, Mihael; PETRU, Simona. Documenta Praehistorica, n.36, 2009.
The book is a collection of interpretative essays, local and regional, on the Mesolithic in Europe. The chapters are organised in broadly geographical order and focus on the definition of the Mesolithic, chronology, technology and subsistence, arts and rituals, settlements and social organisations.
The opening chapter is an introduction to a different perception of the Mesolithic, and suggests we shift from narratives of passive Mesolithic societies to a new generation of interpretations. The final chapter, follows a discussion of Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, dominates many contributions. This chapter actualises the ‘Neolithic’ interpretative model of ‘demic diffusion’, suggesting that there is no evidence of interaction between the Mesolithic and Neolithic populations of the Balkans and the Mediterranean.
However, the book suggests that elsewhere different elements of the ‘Neolithic package’ were introduced and adopted selectively and separately. Unfortunately, the book overlooks relevant information such the recent discussions of the origins and diffusions of ‘Mesolithic’ and ‘Neolithic’ Y-chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, and human population trajectories in the context of processes in the Mesolithic-Neolithic transformation. It does not reflect the discussion on the 8600–8000 and 6000– 5200 calBP climate anomalies, which undoubted correlate chronologically with the Mesolithic and the Neolithic and drastically affected global environmental conditions.
‘Mesolithic Europe’ offers an interesting regional synthesis of the Mesolithic in different parts of Europe and is a perfect complement to Barker’s volume ‘The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory. Why did Foragers become Farmers?’
Mihael Budja and Simona Petru
BÉGOUËN, Robert; FRITZ, Carole; TOSELLO, Gilles; CLOTTES, Jean; PASTOORS, Andreas; FAIST, François. (With the collaboration of François Bourges, Philippe Fosse, Sébastien Lacombe and Mathieu Langlais). La Sanctuaire secret des Bisons. Il y a 14 000 ans, dans la caverne du Tuc d’Audoubert. Paris: Somogy éditions d’art, 2009. 415p. Resenha de: BUDJA, Mihael; PETRU, Budja. Documenta Praehistorica, v.36, 2009.
Tuc d’Audoubert – with Les Trois Frères and Enlène – is part of the cave system of the River Volp, and best known for its bison sculpted in clay. The monograph ‘La Sanctuaire secret des Bisons’ is the result of intense scientific research between 1992 and 2004 on the cave and its Pleistocene art. The important part of the research was the re-examination of the archaeological material from earlier excavations.
The book begins with the exciting story of the discovery of Tuc d’Audoubert in 1912 and the subsequent research of the cave’s chambers and galleries, which are decorated with numerous paintings and engravings.
The geographical position of the cave, the genesis of the cave system and landscape are then described, and environmental facts, and the cultural characteristics of the Magdalenians in the Pyrenees region are presented. The reasons for the excellent preservation of the cave art are also emphasised. The methods of research and various techniques for documenting parietal art are presented and some terminological problems explained. The main part of the book is dedicated to the cave art of Tuc d’Audoubert.
The reader encounters various motifs and representations in a voyage through the cave chambers and galleries from the entrance to its deepest recesses, where the journey ends with the most spectacular find – sculptures of bison. The Magdalenians did not visit the cave only to create images – they also lived in it for short periods, and left artefacts and animal bones in some parts. Among the more enigmatic finds are objects pushed into fissures in the cave walls. Similar objects have been found in other caves and might be interpreted as offerings of some kind, which connected people with the cave and underground world. There are numerous impressions of human feet in the cave. It is interesting that there are adult and children’s impressions deep inside the cave, so at least one child accompanied adults to the Gallery of the Clay Bison. In the final chapters, the authors explain the chronology of the art in Tuc d’Audoubert. They discuss the figurative and non-figurative themes of the art, the art techniques, the distribution of the images and the relation between the mundane and symbolic or “sacred” spaces of the cave. The cave and its art are set in the context of the Magdalenian cultural region of the Pyrenees and the wider south-western European region.
The book ends with an attractive epilogue, in which imagination takes wings in a story about the life and creativity of the Magdalenian people who visited Tuc d’Audoubert. “La Sanctuaire secret des Bisons” is an extensive work, which systematically presents a Palaeolithic cave art site. The numerous illustrations contribute to the general attractiveness of the book.
Mihael Budja and Simona Petru
BARKER, Graeme. The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory. Why did Foragers become Farmers. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 598p. Resenha de: BUDJA, Mihael. Documenta Praehistorica, v.34, 2007.
The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory addresses some of the most debated questions as to why, how, when and where foraging societies decided that Ôthe advantages of food production outweighed the options available to them as foragersÕ. Graeme Barker first discussed these questions in his Cambridge PhD on the transition from hunting to farming in central Italy. Some years later he focused on the evolution of farming in Europe. His recent book is an attempt to bring to bear a global holistic approach to the problem of why foragers became farmers. The book is in ten parts: (1) Approaches to the Origins of Agriculture, (2) Understanding Foragers, (3) Identifying Foragers and Farmers, (4) The ÔHearth of Domestication Õ? Transitions to Farming in South-West Asia, (5) Central and South Asia: the Wheat/Rice Frontier, (6) Rice and Forest Farming in East and South-East Asia, (7) Weed, Tuber, and Maize Farming in the Americas, (8) Africa: Afro-Asiatic Pastoralists and Bantu farmers?, (9) Transitions to Farming in Europe: Ex Oriente Lux?, and (10) The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory: Why did Foragers become Farmers?
In the context of a short review, the range and rich detail of this book precludes further summary, and to engage in debate on any one section would be invidious. Suffice to say that the author believes that the process of transition to farming demands a regionally comparative approach. For every region, he suggests, we need to understand Òchanges in climate and environment, the nature of the plant and animal resources available, and how they were exploited by people on either side of the presumed transitional phase(s) from foraging to farming”. And, that “if we are to understand why prehistoric foragers become farmers” we have to “imagine how they must have viewed their world and the challenges and choices available to them”. There is no reason not to agree with these postulates.
The author develops a strong case for the development of agricultural systems in many regions as transformations in the life-styles of indigenous forager societies, and hypothesises that these were as much changes in social norms and ideologies as in ways of obtaining food. He argues at the same time that the transition to farming was a process consisting of many unwise, foolish and fatal decisions, and that what actually happened was not the discovery nor the invention of food production, but a by-product of decisions made without an awareness of their consequences (p. 392, quoting J. M. Diamond).
The author surprises us by reviving two old concepts and models, agricultural revolution (cf. V. G. Childe) and acculturation (cf. S. Piggott [Ancient Europe. 1965], missing from the bibliography). He argues strongly against the concept of demic diffusion and/or the wave of advance model (cf. A. J. Ammerman and L. L. Cavalli-Sforza). For him, the main problem with the demic diffusion model is Òits focus on the transition to farming as some kind of unique sequence of movements in an otherwise static world.Ó (p. 413).
By adopting a global perspective, the author integrates in the book a series of general and basic data that were discussed in the eighties and nineties in archaeology, anthropology, botany and zoology, climatology, and archaeogenetics. Unfortunately, he overlooks relevant information as much as the recent discussions of origins and diffusions of “Mesolithichic” and “Neolithic” Y-chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups, and global human population trajectories in the context of the processes of the transition to farming. Human genetic studies show that the modern European paternal and maternal genetic landscape was not the result of farmers invading from the Near East, and that demic diffusion is not a realistic scenario for interpreting the transition to farming in either Europe or Central Asia. The lively debate on the “8.200 calBp climate event” Ð which undoubted correlates chronologically with the transition to farming on a global scale, and certainly affected environmental conditions Ð is not taken into account. How the event affected contemporary hunter-gatherers and farmers and the transition to farming still awaits an answer.
There is no question, however, that The Agricultural Revolution in Prehistory is a big step towards an unbiased interpretation of the processes of transition to farming in prehistory both regionally and globally.
Mihael Budja – University of Ljubljana.
CHAPMAN, John; GAYDARSKA, Bisserka (with contributions from Ana Raduntcheva and Bistra Koleva). Parts and Wholes: Fragmentation in Prehistoric Context. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2007. 233p. Resenha de: MLEKU, Dimitrij; BUDJA, Mihael. Documenta Praehistoricav.34, 2007.
The book Parts and Wholes is in many ways a supplement to Chapman’s previous book, The Fragmentation in Archaeology (2000), but it is also a new, highly innovative and interesting book. It is an ambitious attempt to write an integrated study which combines archaeology, social anthropology and material culture studies.
Chapman’s study focused on the complementary practices of fragmentation and accumulation, processes which link people to objects through production, exchange and consumption. He adopted an anthropological model of personhood, derived mainly from ethnographic analyses of Melanesian societies, where people are made up of the totality of their relations: they are not “individuals” but “dividuals”, made up of their relations and transactions with each other, places and material culture.
This study was founded upon the “fragmentation premise “, an idea that many artefacts in the past were deliberately broken and then re-used as fragments after that break. A crucial practice connected with the creation of personhood is “enchainment”, a social relationship between people and people and objects which emerges from the exchange of fragments. A related, complementary process is “accumulation”, which creates a hoard of objects.
Fragments are tokens of relations between people, places and objects, and thus create personalities. This model of personhood seems to fit the evidence of fragmented objects, hoards and partial deposits of human bone from southeastern Europe.
In the present book Chapman and Gaydarska elaborate on many points and arguments from Chapman’s previous book. In fact, the book addresses many criticisms of the first book and provides many case studies which support the theoretical issues raised in the both volumes.
The first two case studies are examples of the culturally specific creation of personhood, the first using whole pots and the principle of “categorisation” (Chapter 1). The second study discusses the anthropomorphic figurines from Hamangia (Chapter 3). Observation of the various biographies of Hamangia figurines, which were androgynous when whole, but change their rendered identity to male, female or genderneutral, or no-gender following the fragmented life history of the figurines. However, in graves, either complete figurines or fragments, which can be refitted to whole figurines, were deposited, which characterise Òa return to androgynous whole at death. “Two methodological studies focus on the correspondence between the mobility of objects and fragDocumenta Praehistorica 2007 book reviews 314 ments and the archaeological record. The first one Ð wittily named “Schiffer visits the Balkans” Ð discusses “rubbish” , the importance of deposition and disposal for the objects” biographies, the mobility of the fragments, the creation of context and the definition of “activity areas” (Chapter 4).
Meanwhile, the second approach mobilises the re-fitting studies and chine op.ratoire approach to answer the key question in fragmentation studies: “Where are the missing parts?” The study traces the dispersion of fragments both on-site and off-site (Chapter 5).
The final two studies combine a biographical approach with re-fitting studies. The first approaches the large assemblage of fragmented figurines from the Final Copper Age layers of the Dolnoslav tell (Chapter 6). The complex pattern of deposition at Dolnoslav seems to suggest that the tell was an accumulation site for the fragments, while the pattern reflects diverse principles of personhood, and thus offers an interesting contrast to the study of Hamangia figurines in the third chapter.
The second traces the ch.ine op.ratoire of Spondylus rings based on refitting studies of three sites (Chapter 7).
Chapman and Gaydarska succeed in demonstrating that the Ôfragmentation premiseÕ is well founded. The high level of object and fragment mobility Ð up to 80 % of objectsÕ mass is missing on some sites Ð suggest that fragments travel across sites and landscapes. Even more, they show that fragmentation studies can offer an insight into the creation of personhood and identity.
What we miss in the book is an acknowledgement of the social importance of the act or performance of deliberate breaking. Deliberate breaking is first an extremely important event in the biography of the object, not just “ritual killing”. It is an act of transformation, when a whole object is transformed into something other. The act of transformation Ð due to its visual or aural qualities Ð can bring people together and make the event an social one. Obvious examples are the “ritual explosions” of figurines at Dolni V.stonice, Balkan celebrations involving the ÔritualÕ breaking of glass against walls, or Leslie GrinsellÕs funeral cited in the introduction to the book. In such events it is the performance of deliberate fragmentation which has important social implications; it binds people together, the resulting fragments make those relations merely visible and tangible.
All in all this is a mind-boggling book. Chapman and Gaydarska’s study is a highly innovative and stimulating one. It opens completely new lines of enquiry into Balkan (and wider) prehistory.
Dimitrij Mleku and Mihael Budja – University of Ljubljana .
MIRACLE, Preston T.; FORENBAHER, Staso (Ed.). Prehistoric Herders of Northern Istria: the archaeology of Pupicina Cave, Volume 1\Pretpovjesni stocari sjeverne Istre: arheologija Pupicine peci, 1. svezak (Monografije i katalozi 14). Pula. Arheoloski muzej Istre, 2006. 560p. Resenha de: MLEKUZ, Dimitri. Documenta Praehistorica, v.34, 2007.
This monograph documents the results of the excavation of the post-Mesolithic layers in Pupi²ina Cave in Northern Istria. Pupi²ina Cave contains a deep, albeit interrupted sequence, which covers the last 12 000 years of occupation, with significant Neolithic and Bronze Age deposits. This is the first volume in a series of monographs which is intended to cover the whole occupational sequence of the Cave.
This substantial monograph is a very welcome contribution to studies of the Neolithic and Bronze Age in the Northern Adriatic, which has been relatively intensively researched, but lacks well- excavated and dated assemblages, and which is plagued by a lack of detailed publications.
The most obvious contribution of the monographs lies in the detailed specialist studies of the whole line of evidence, both ÔartefactualÕ and ÔecofactualÕ, including stratigraphic, micromorphological, taphonomical, palaeobotanical etc. data. Thus, aside from an introductory article (Miracle) and two overview contributions, the monograph consists of a series of detailed specialist reports covering different lines of evidence.
Miracle and Fornbaher describe the methodology of excavation and the stratigraphy of the post-Mesolithic layers in the cave in full detail. The sequence of five occupation horizons is dated with eight radiocarbon dates. Particularly interesting is the geoarchaeological report (Boschian), which clearly demonstrates that the stratigraphic sequence is almost entirely the result of anthropogenic processes, mainly the periodic burning of animal dung and cleaning of cave floors. The micromorphological data provide clear evidence that the cave was used as a sheep pen. The pottery analysis (Forenbaher and Kaiser) provides evidence of sharp contrast in the use of pottery at the site between the Bronze Age and Neolithic, while the analysis of stone artefacts (Forenbaher) questions previous assumptions that the Neolithic lithic industry in the region is based on a prismatic blade technology industry. An important observation is the intensification of long-distance interactions during the Neolithic, which can be clearly seen in an expanded range of raw materials. Different uses of raw materials can be seen in a small collection of bone and antler artefacts (Amatt and Miracle).
The report on vertebrate fauna (Miracle and Pugsley) clearly shows the major role in subsistence of herds of ovicaprines, thus complementing the micromorphological and stratigraphic evidence. The paper reveals substantial changes in cave use, animal management, during the Neolithic and Bronze Age.
The very small mollusc assemblage provides more evidence of site formation and taphonomical processes than of dietary or palaeo-environmental processes (Laurie, Miracle and Poje). The charcoal and phytolites analysis offer evidence of the utilisation of the landscape in the immediate enivrons of the cave (Fletcher and Madella) and thus complements a pollen analysis from an offsite core (Andri), while the analysis of small vertebrate remains (Steward and Parfitt) focuses more on the formational processes which could have led to their accumulation in the cave. The specialist reports often include regional comparisons and set data within a wider regional context. Especially worth mentioning is the report on faunal assemblages (Miracle and Pugsley), which summarises zoo-archaeological data from the whole of the eastern Adriatic.
The last two chapters summarize the different lines of evidence and provide an overview and conclusion about the cave itself and its environment, and its position in the spread of farming in the eastern Adriatic.
The first synthetic contribution summarise changes in the activities in the cave and its immediate environs (Miracle and Forenbaher). Pupi²ina was a seasonally visited site, with changing patterns and intensity of use and occupation. It was used as a seasonal camp, with major periods of relatively intensive occupation during the second half of the 6th and the beginning of the 5th millennium BC (Middle Neolithic) and mid-second Millennium BC (Bronze Age).
The Middle Neolithic occupations were short; shepherds lived in the cave with their herds; animals were slaughtered and consumed on site. Although the authors admit that the data fits fairly well with J.-.. BrochierÕs Ôhabitat bergerieÕ, an occupational site used by shepherds and their herds, they anyway conclude Ð in my opinion too hastily Ð that ÒPupi²ina may have been a special-purpose site attached to the nearby villageÓ, and was therefore more a Ôgrotte bergerieÕ, a seasonal transhumance site linked to the (hypothetical) lowland village. This might be true of the Middle Bronze Age, with the appearance of fortified hill-forts in northern Istria and the immediate vicinity of the site.
An important observation is the existence of ÔgapsÕ in the deposition, a major one between the Mesolithic and Neolithic, and another between the Neolithic and Bronze Age, along with several others. These ÔgapsÕ also occur in other caves in the region. Unfortunately, the research does not provide a final answer to this problem, although it seems to be crucial for understanding the transition from the Mesolithic to the Neolithic in the cave and the wider region, which is the topic of the second synthetic contribution (Forenbaher and Miracle). There is a hiatus in occupation of around 1800 years between the Mesolithic and Neolithic occupations of the cave, therefore the evidence of a Mesolithic-Neolithic transition and the transition to farming has not survived. Unfortunately, this renders the cave less suitable for a discussion of the process of neolithisation. The earliest Neolithic layers in Pupi²ina are at least a few hundred years younger than the first Neolithic evidence in the region. Therefore, we might not agree with the authorsÕ conclusion that ÒPupi²ina has some of the strongest and clearest evidence of a new population of herders/farmers coming to the site in the Middle NeolithicÓ. Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence of absence of huntergatherers in the cave during the transitional period, especially when other lines of evidence (exclusive use of local lithic raw materials in the oldest Neolithic horizon) may suggest local ancestry of the first herders in the cave.
The first monograph in the series is a colossal contribution to Neolithic and Bronze Age studies in the area and sets high standards for future research and publications on the area. It is to be hoped that the quality of the research and publication seen in this monograph will be also reflected in publications by other researchers working in the area. I eagerly await further volumes from the series.
Dimitrij Mlekuz – University of Ljubljana
In 1964 a group of enthusiasts around the eminent Slovenian archaeologist Professor Josip Korošec at the University of Ljubljana established a new journal entitled A Report on the Research of the Neolithic and Eneolithic in Slovenia (Poročilo o raziskovanju neolita in eneolita v Sloveniji). Professor Korošec was the first editor and published the first two volumes, which were dedicated to the results of the excavations in the Ljubljansko barje region. After Professor Korošec passed away, the journal was edited by Professor Tatjana Bregant for the next twenty years (3rd to 21st Volumes). In this period, the journal became a respectable publication in Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia for topics relating to the Paleolithic, Neolithic and Eneolithic periods. A number of palaeoenvironmental and palaeoeconomic studies were also published alongside the archaeological topics.
Since the 22nd Volume, the editor has been Professor Mihael Budja, and the editorial policy has shifted from regional to global scale, and for its 25th anniversary the journal changed its title to Documenta Praehistorica. The journal started to publish selected papers that had been presented at the international conference established at that time entitled ‘The Neolithic Seminar’, which has been organised annually by the Department of Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana for the past twenty years. The Seminars attracted leading researchers from the field and soon became a hub for discussing theoretical concepts, interpretative models and the results of interdisciplinary research studies and projects in Europe and Asia. A ‘Ljubljana school’ of Neolithic studies was formed within this intellectual milieu by a group of researchers who applied and developed ideas discussed at the seminars and in the journal. The papers in Documenta Praehistorica address studies that range from cultural and typological topics to archaeometry, from paleoclimate to paleoeconomy, from demography to archaeogenetics, and from symbolism to identity.
Since 1999, Documenta Praehistorica has had international members on the editorial board alongside Slovenian researchers, and since 2005 it has been enriched by a new web editor and a technical editor. With the formation of the journal’s web page in 2001 the published papers can also be accessed on-line.
Documenta Praehistorica is the only international journal to focus on interdisciplinary research based on Neolithic studies. The main strength of the journal is that it provides an opportunity for the publication of diverse approaches, theories and specific case studies, while maintaining a coherent editorial policy in addressing significant topics and studies relating to the Neolithic and Eurasian prehistory in general. Documenta Praehistorica has thus emerged as a central hub where the richness of different approaches, theories and ideas in contemporary Neolithic studies is easily recognisable.
The publication of an article in a peer-reviewed journal Documenta Praehistorica (1964) is an essential building block in the development of a coherent and respected network of knowledge. It is a direct reflection of the quality of the work of the authors and the institutions that support them. It is therefore necessary to agree upon standards of expected ethical behaviour for all parties involved in the act of publishing: the author, the editor (and the editorial board), the peer reviewer and the publisher.
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