DigIt Volume 2, Issue 1 Journal of the Flinders Archaeological Society
Volume 2, Issue 1
Journal of the
Flinders Archaeological Society
Original research articles
The Dead Beneath the Floor: The use of space for burial in the Dominican Blackfriary, Trim, Co. Meath, Ireland
Emma M. Lagan
The Dilmun Burial Mounds of Bahrain: An introduction to the site and the importance of awareness raising towards successful preservation
New Approaches to the Celtic Urbanisation Process
Yup’ik Eskimo Kayak Miniatures: Preliminary notes on kayaks from the Nunalleq site
The Contribution of Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük to Notions of Territory and Group Mobility in
Prehistoric Central Anatolia
Figuring Out the Figurines: Towards the interpretation of Neolithic corporeality in the Republic of Macedonia
Inert, Inanimate, Invaluable: How stone artefact analyses have informed of Australia’s past
Kani Shaie Archaeological Project: New fieldwork in Iraqi Kurdistan
A Tale of Two Cities
An Interview with Brian Fagan
Spencer and Gillen: A journey through Aboriginal Australia
The Future’s as Bright as the Smiles: National Archaeology Student Conference 2014
Journal profile: Chronika
Editorial President’s Address
What an exciting and transformative 6 months for Dig It! Our
Journal simultaneously became peer-reviewed, international, and larger – including more pages and including more people into the editorial process.
It has been an ever rewarding experience, and I look forward to holding in my hands the printed Journal with 7 research papers from authors in 5 countries; 2 field reports; 2 conference and website reviews; 1 interview with a veteran of archaeology; and a friendly ‘hello’ from a fellow archaeology student journal from
I would like to extend the warmest ‘thank you’ to my three congenial fellow editors Jordan Ralph, Antoinette Hennessey and Matthew Ebbs for their drive, motivation, ingenious ideas and hard work. To the authors for trusting us with their papers and spending days and nights improving them. To the permanent review panel consisting of Rhiannon Agutter, Amy Batchelor,
Robert DeWet-Jones, Anna Foroozani, Simon Munt, Dianne
Riley, Zoe Robinson, Fiona Shanahan, Rhiannon Stammers,
Isabel Wheeler for their gentle language editing. To the anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback. To ArchSoc for their financial, organisational and emotional support.
Dig It intends to provide opportunities for professional development to young researchers who wish to familiarise themselves with the different roles in the publishing process, from writing over editing and layouting through to reviewing.
As it turns out, the greatest learning experience was probably had by us editors, after all – and we would like to thank everybody else involved in the Journal for allowing us to transform an idea sketched in December 2013, through trial and error and hard work, into something to be proud of. With the mouse still dizzy from the final layouting work, we are looking forward to the next challenge that will be Dig It Volume 2, Issue 2.
Editor, Dig It: The Journal of the Flinders Archaeological Society
I would firstly like to say welcome to our new and continuing members for 2014. We look forward to delivering an outstanding service of both professional development and social networking to our Society’s members. I would like to thank the 2013 committee for their efforts in providing a great network for both students and professionals. ArchSoc continues to be the largest and most active student archaeological society in Australia, a feat that has been recognised by other institutions around the country.
A number of ArchSoc and Departmental events have kept our
Society busy throughout the start of the year. These events include the Digger’s Shield cricket match against the Paleontology
Society, the National Archaeology Student Conference (NASC) hosted at Flinders University, the Ruth and Vincent Megaw
Annual Lecture in Archaeology and Art, presented by Professor
Emeritus Brian Fagan, and recently, the maritime-themed annual pub crawl. We are hoping to run a field exercise later in the year, details to be advised. ArchSoc activities are displayed on the notice board outside HUMN 112 and details are sent out via our mailing list <[email protected]> so keep an eye out for future events.
As some of our returning members may notice, Dig It has now become a peer-reviewed journal. As our membership has grown this year, we are also gaining a number of international readers and contributors. The editorial team welcomes your contributions for future issues of Dig It. I would encourage our members to publish here where many of your fellow peers can read up on what other members are conducting research on.
Now in our 22 nd
year of existence, the Flinders Archaeological
Society will continue to flourish, bringing out the best in our members for the industry of tomorrow. Get involved when you can! We are always looking for volunteers to lend a hand, generate new ideas, help run social events and professional development opportunities, or simply come along and show some support. I hope to see all of you around some time on campus or at one of our many events. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@
FlindersArchSoc), like our Facebook page, and follow our blog
President, Flinders Archaeological Society 2014
Adelaide city at dusk. Photograph: Andrew Wilkinson, 2014
The Dead Beneath the Floor:
The use of space for burial in the Dominican Blackfriary, Trim, Co.
Emma M. Lagan
M.A. student in Human Skeletal Biology, New York
University, <[email protected]>
2 Irish Archaeological Field School
This paper examines the results of archaeological excavations within Irish Dominican Priories, specifically evidence for burial practice. It focuses on the use of space for burial within the Medieval
Dominican Blackfriary in Trim, Co. Meath, using preliminary data accumulated over four field seasons (2010–2013), excavated by the Irish Archaeological Field School (IAFS).
Sixty-six burials have been identified at Blackfriary in the nave and cloisters of the church. Within a relatively confined area of the nave, two apparently discreet zones of use have been identified, characterized by varying burial patterns. To the west, burials consist of fully articulated, extended inhumations moderately spaced out. Less than a meter to the east, fully articulated extended inhumations are tightly packed, overlapping, and overlain by a dense deposit (30–50cm) of disarticulated human bone. This paper examines the skeletal remains in the context of their location and associations, considering the location of the burial in relation to the friaries layout, evidence of standing structures, and other burials.
Data from other Dominican friaries is used as a comparison.
Finally, the paper discusses contemporary social contexts which may explain the variations observed.
Specifically, this paper will focus on the use of space for burial within the nave of the friary. These burials are not currently marked with any of the identifiers listed above, so it is up to archaeology and historical research to determine the significance of their presence. With the data, I will: situate the burials with respect to the internal structures of the church; discuss the relationship of the burials to their space; and attempt to understand any patterns (if present). In order to establish context, this paper provides a background of the town; excavation history of the site; information regarding church archaeology; social attitudes of the time period towards death; and finally, comparative data.
This essay represents one of the few reports concerning excavations within Irish Dominican Priories. As this is an ongoing project, the emphasis of this paper is on: a basic understanding of the intricacies surrounding the politics of burial practices in Medieval Trim, to offer hypotheses to explain potential burial trends, and to provide areas of focus for the upcoming 2014 season so that we can continue to improve upon concepts discussed here.
Every time we walk across the floor of a church, it is unlikely that we are thinking about the bodies beneath it. In areas with a medieval past, however, chances are very likely that they are there. Sometimes, attention is drawn to them by way of a slab on the floor, a tomb in the wall, or the presence of a crypt beneath the church, but sometimes the presence of the resting dead is more subtle. As time goes on, the dead can be forgotten, leaving it to archaeology to rediscover the individuals who were buried beneath the church and attempt to reconstruct their history.
This paper will focus on burial data from the site of the Dominican
Blackfriary in Trim, Ireland. This archaeological site is a research excavation conducted by the Irish Archaeological Field School
(IAFS) and key members Finola O’Carroll (principle investigator and head of the excavation) and Dr. Rachel Scott (principle bioarchaeologist, of DePaul University). Excavations have run consecutively since 2010, and the author has been present at each field season, initially as the field school’s first student in 2010, then as a trainee supervisor during the 2011–2013 field seasons.
The project outlined in this paper was initially conducted based on the excavation work through 2012 as part of the author’s undergraduate thesis, and has been expanded to include material from the 2013 field season. All research has been conducted with the permission of IAFS, Finola O’Carroll, and Dr. Rachel Scott.
Photographs and documents, where not the author’s own, have been reproduced with the same permission.
Located 40km to the northwest of Dublin, on the banks of the river Boyne, Trim has been described as a dual-purpose town, serving both as “caput of a rich and extensive lordship and as a fortified market town with extensive mercantile connections and its own independent administration” (Potterton 2005:67).
Although archaeological evidence shows that there was pre-
Norman activity, including a monastery founded by St. Loman beneath the medieval St. Patrick’s Church, it was established as an Anglo-Norman town in 1172 by Hugh de Lacy. During its peak, Trim was a major center of activity. The town itself was walled, with five gates controlling traffic in and out of the city. A medieval bridge still spans the Boyne, connecting the two halves of the town. Other features of Trim included a mint within the castle, at least two fortified houses, a medieval suburb, a leper hospital (outside of the town walls), a frankhouse, a guildhouse, a water mill, three religious institutions, and two religious houses and the Cathedral in Newtown Trim, 2km to the east along the
Of the three religious institutes – Franciscan, Dominican, and
Augustinian – only the Dominican house was located outside of the town walls. It is this house which is the focus of this paper.
The Blackfriary, as it is now known, was founded in 1263 by the
Lord of Trim at the time, Geoffrey de Geneville, who retired to the order in his later life. This particular institution was the seventeenth Dominican house established in Ireland, and the third largest overall. Following the general practice of the order in Ireland, it was located immediately outside of the town walls, near the Athboy gate just north of the town. The friars at Trim held seventy-two acres at the time of the Dissolution, and the friary was said to have contained the following features: a belfry, a chapter house, a dormitory, a hall, three chambers, a kitchen, a pantry, a stable, cloisters, gardens, an orchard, and a cemetery
(Potterton 2005:325). During the height of its occupancy in
Original research paper
the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Blackfriary was a site of importance, both generally for the town and for the ecclesiastical history of Ireland. Potterton (2005:354) notes that this, along with the Augustinian and Franciscan friars, “played a highly significant role in the medieval town, treating the sick, looking after the poor and attending to the spiritual needs of the townspeople”. Apart from these daily tasks, the Blackfriary in
Trim held three meetings of the Dominican chapter, in the years
1285, 1300, and 1315.
Activities at the church declined, however, in the fifteenth century as Trim began to go through a period of economic loss, probably as a result of other major cities, such as Dublin, increasing as economic centers. Potterton (2005) notes that the decline continued at the friary over the following centuries.
During the eighteenth century, the Blackfriary entered its ultimate descent into disrepair. Bishop Burke, writing in 1756, noted “a few years before that the walls of the house and chapel gave evidence of their original magnificence” but on his return, he had found that “the stones were sold and carried away to other buildings, so that on visiting the place he found scarcely any ruins” (Conwell 1878:141). By 1795, the ruins had been recorded as “a few remaining heaps of old wall … of a castle or some other building” (Potterton 2005:330). This destruction was the result of a housing boom in Trim, and stones were sold and quarried from the derelict Blackfriary, far easier than quarrying new stone. In 1837 the OS map showed the location of the friary as a small section of ruins. The site remained unoccupied, and in 2005, Potterton (2005:330) recorded that “six small mounds of masonry are all that remain above ground of the original structure. One of the chunks of masonry incorporates what seems to be a rounded arch, and this may have been part of a spiral staircase”. This is how the site remained until the start of excavations in 2010.
Initial survey work was conducted in June and July 1988 by
Professor William J. Kennedy of Florida Atlantic University.
Kennedy conducted a geophysical survey consisting of soil resistivity, proton magnetometry surveys, and low altitude, infrared aerial photography. The survey results showed subsurface features, identified and outlined by Kennedy as foundations of the kitchen, cloisters, living quarters, refractory, tower, chancel and entrance. While excavations were proposed, they were not undertaken due to logistical reasons, and the site was left as it was. (Potterton 2005:331; Seaver et al. 2009:295).
In 2008, resurfacing and drainage works exposed human remains along a back lane that abuts the Blackfriary site. This event led to the excavation of a circular well, four burials in various stages of completion, and disarticulated human remains representing at least 12 individuals. The two nearly complete burials (1 and
2) both showed indications of trauma. The excavated area, lying to the southwest corner of the Blackfriary site, is thought to be within the limits of the friary’s cemetery, and possibly represent its expansion. Further monitoring of the pavement construction showed that the graveyard cemetery most likely extended as far south as the town wall, but did not extend to the west and northwest of the friary buildings. The eastern extent of the graveyard cemetery is unknown and unexcavated. Because this excavation was only undertaken due to the supervision of construction, no further explorations were made, and this
Figure 1: A map of site showing the cuttings and various structures (IAFS 2014)
Emma M. Lagan, The Dead Beneath the Floor | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
section of the site was paved over (Seaver et al. 2009:295).
In 2010, the site was opened for fieldwork under the supervision of archaeologist Finola O’Carroll, director of the Irish
Archaeological Field School (IAFS). A geophysical survey and topographical survey were conducted in conjunction with excavations in order to reveal the subsurface structures. The results of the topographical survey showed a greater degree of detail than the survey conducted in 1988 (see Figure 2 in the data section). To date, a total of 10 cuttings have been opened, exposing features pertaining to various elements of the cloister, church, and domestic ranges. A majority of the findings have been in relation to the western portion of the church (the nave) and the cloister, cloister garth, and ambulatory. Architectural features are both in situ
structures and fragmentary as rubble. Burials and disarticulated human bones (DHB
) have been exposed in the nave of the church, the cloister, and the ambulatory of the cloister. Ongoing excavations are expected to continue to reveal these features.
When excavating a church, especially one that has no surviving above-ground structures, knowing the various features and components of a church is important. The layouts of medieval churches in Ireland are known from existing churches and previous archaeological studies of medieval British and European religious architecture. The interior of the medieval church is divided into two separate sections: the chancel (the eastern end of the church which seats the clergy and the choir and contains the altar) and the nave (the western end of the church for the laity). In some churches, there is an additional feature separating the two sections: the transept. When present, this feature is a north-south aisle which gives the church the impression of a cross. The two spaces formed by the transept on the north and south side of the church often contained other alters or places of prayer. Dominican churches tended to be linear, sometimes with the later additions of a side aisle to the nave and a transept on one side only of the crossing tower.
Associated with the church, when it is part of a conventional setting, is the cloister. Located towards the center of the monastery, with the buildings planned around it, the cloister garth was an open area used for various activities by the monks, including education, traveling between buildings, and reflective walking. Typically, the center of the cloister was ringed by a covered walkway or ambulatory which allowed activities to continue with protection from weather. In some traditions, the cloister was used to separate the kitchen – with its various aromas – from the church, placing them directly across the open courtyard from one another.
Churches, throughout the course of their usage, went through periodic modifications. They expanded, they were renovated, and most importantly, they changed with the times. Most churches, according to Rodwell (2005), started as a single or two-celled building consisting of the nave and chancel.
Over time, as funding increases, the building was added to or expanded, usually by extending the chancel eastwards or the nave westwards. It is important to remember that during initial
In situ refers to the discovery of an artefact or ecofact in its originally deposited position. Tumbled stones, for instance, are not considered to be
The term ‘disarticulated human burial’ and its abbreviation DHB will be used interchangeably.
or subsequent construction periods, medieval builders were not likely to obtain perfection; walls may not be a consistent thickness, or even meet at right angles. Floors – which were often compacted earth, gravel, or mortar – may slope across the length or width of the church anywhere from a few centimeters to half a meter in height difference due to the uneven ground on which the church was built. These continuity differences, when unknown to the archaeologist, can prove challenging and frustrating; therefore, they are important to keep in mind during an excavation (Rodwell 2005).
Medieval attitude toward death
Why did the townspeople bury their dead beneath the church in the first place? In practice, many of the attitudes towards death in Medieval Europe stemmed from Catholic Christian beliefs towards death. The Christian teachings, which put death and heaven as the ultimate salvation and goal, strongly influenced attitudes towards the body and soul. The Christian view of the afterlife held a ‘covenant’ between the living and the dead – the living, by praying for the souls of the dead, could help advance their way through Purgatory to salvation. Thus, individuals arranged to have their physical bodies and meta-physical souls cared for after their death in an effort to guarantee their reunion at some point in the afterlife. This meant they were willing to pay a fee for the security of this promise. Often times, this was done through the practice of almsgiving. Almsgiving was essentially an obligation – giving the friars money was an indirect way to ensure that their souls would be prayed for and their time in Purgatory would be short. This established an “abiding link between the friars and their patrons”, which, according to Ó
Clabaigh (2012:107) was the “most valued service that the friars performed for their benefactors”. Therefore, in a sense, death became marketable.
In effect, death became strategic. The position of an individual’s final interment had to be both one of humility (as was only
Christian) and one of accessibility. Over time, it became a way to assert specific loyalties; for instance: familial, territorial, or imperial. Where the body was placed expressed something of importance. Burial inside churches originated with the interment saints, whose position within the church would help the laity in life. As time progressed, from around the beginning of the thirteenth century, the more privileged laity began being interred inside of churches, in imitation of the practices associated with saints. Monastic and cathedral churches were the first to bury the privileged laity within their walls once they realized that they could benefit “materially from the possession of an influential church” (Binski 1996:57).
Further, Binski (1996:57) states that “burial was in effect tied up with various forms of endowment. As a result…an important and competitive economy grew up around bodies, extending that which had previously grown up around relics of saints”. Rodwell
(2005) similarly notes that before the later medieval period, there were few graves dug within the churches. Any graves that did exist “occupied the most favoured positions” within the chapel, as close to the altar as was possible (Rodwell 2005:174). Often, these burials, when excavated, show evidence of intercutting one another through various levels of usage. As the churches learned they could profit from charging wealthy parishioners for burial within their walls, they fueled the ‘business’ of death, increasing the demand for high-status church burials. This privilege had first been granted to the Benedictines, closely followed by the
Original research paper
Cistercians in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and finally the Dominicans and Franciscans who dominated the burial
‘industry’. Originally, the Dominican General Chapter of 1250 in London made the decision that their churches were not to be used for burials, but according to Binski (1996:58), this
“restriction was short lived: by the fourteenth century…the friars had become notoriously greedy in their pursuit of the bodies of the new urban elite”.
Thus, death in the medieval period became a contract between wealthy individuals who wanted to demonstrate their status by being buried within the church and churches who received status and money by having the bodies of wealthy individuals buried within their walls. Prior to the eighteenth century, burial within the church was “a privilege enjoyed by the clergy and a few notable lay folk, mainly gentry, but pressure for indoor burial subsequently became intense” Rodwell (2005:174). Eventually, merchants, farmers, physicians and many others – whole families, including babies – were able to buy their way into burial within the churches. In order to accommodate the various levels of wealth within society, the clergy charged for burials based on their location within the church. Ó Clabaigh (2012:109) notes that “in death as in life, a strict social hierarchy reigned and governed the positioning of graves within friary churches and precincts”. This meant that the ‘favored’ positions by the altar were more expensive, and those on the fringes cheaper. This is recorded in a witty epitaph from the time period, cited by
Rodwell (1996:174): “Here lie I by the chancel door,/Here lie I because I’m poor./The further in, the more you’ll pay,/Here lie I, as warm as they”. Aristocratic patrons received favorable burial positions by the altar, like the saints, and non-aristocratic patrons were usually buried in the nave and transept of the church (Ó
During the course of burial, it was not uncommon to disturb a burial already occupying that space, especially since earlier burials were not typically interred within a coffin. Binski (1996:55) notes that “once a body had been buried and had decomposed to the point of defleshing, it was normal to exhume it and to store the bones in a charnel house”. Byrne (2006:91) suggests that the charnel vault itself was sometimes located beneath the church, much like the burials. Rodwell (2005) remarks that investigations can sometimes reveal a significant number of interments in one location. In these instances, the disarticulated bones – which can comprise up to 50% of the archaeological record (Rodwell 2005)
– were often placed on top of the fresh burial, thus establishing a cyclical burial pattern. Current research is being undertaken by PhD student Jenny Crangle (Sheffield University) examining the post-depositional practice and treatment of medieval human remains which may highlight these and other practices; it is hoped this research will provide more information useful to the
Blackfriary project in the future.
Out of the 41 Medieval Dominican Friaries in Ireland, only thirteen (including the Blackfriary in Trim) have been excavated.
Of the twelve friaries (excluding Trim), two were reported to have not fully exposed or excavated any discovered burials; two focused on burials within the cemetery; and reports for the final eight were requested but unavailable. For this reason, two excavation reports from Medieval Dominican Friaries in
England – Guildford and Beverely – were used, and are briefly summarized here. As the Order most likely originated from
England, and because both sites are Dominican in nature, it is argued that comparison is logical, although any differences may reflect different community practices.
The Dominican friary in Guildford, Surrey, was established in
1275 and operational until 1538. Two separate excavations took place, the first in 1973 and again the second in 1978. These excavations uncovered “walls and floors from several periods”
(Poulton and Woods 1984:micro fiche p.17). Skeletal remains were found during both seasons, but more heavily encountered in the 1978 season, which focused on the nave of the church.
In total, 113 burials were retrieved from the friary: 42 in the cemetery, 41 in the nave, and 30 listed as “residual”. Within the nave, the graves mostly conformed to a standard pattern. Each had a visible grave cut, and the average size of the burial was
0.75m in depth and width, and 2m in length. Typically, “the interment was placed on the bottom of the grave-cut which was then backfilled with fairly clean sand. This sand [was] mixed with variable quantities of stones, floor tiles and bones from earlier burials” (Poulton and Woods 1984: micro fiche p.61). The burials were then broken down into five subsections: Group A conformed to the above description; Group B conformed, with the addition of a wooden coffin; Group C had a slight difference in composition; Group D was similar to B, with the exception that the coffin had collapsed and introduced a new fill; and Group
E had distinctive, similar backfills differing from the standard backfill by having higher quantities of mortar, chalk lumps and clay mixed in with the sand.
Only five graves at Guildford were listed as “exceptional” for not conforming to the above subsections. One of these exceptions included burial within a lead coffin (which could denote a high status burial), while the other four were variations of disturbed graves, most likely robbed due to the presence of a lead coffin.
Overall, there was a “remarkable degree of homogeneity throughout the site” (Poulton and Woods 1984: micro fiche p.119). The majority of the individuals were identified as male or probably male, and the burials identified as female were mostly restricted to the nave. Some unique skeletal traits were discovered, such as the 25th vertebrae present in Burial 24; however, evidence for trauma and disease was low. Regarding the position of burials, the authors note that “interment within the conventional church is likely to have been more desirable than burial in the cemetery. There is a strong supposition that this was the prerogative of the richer and more influential members of society” (Poulton and Woods 1984:68). The archaeological evidence supporting this lies in the more elaborate detail of those burials located in the nave of the church. Also, burials within the church were more likely to be interred with a coffin, which has been suggested as an additional sign of wealth. Burials within the cemetery are thought to be ‘less distinguished’. Graves in the cloister, being predominantly male, are thought to have been the final resting place for the monks.
The Dominican friary in Beverly, Yorkshire, was established in
1240 and dissolved in 1539. Archaeological investigations in
1963 and 1989 indicated the overall dimensions of the original church nave to be approximately 6.6 meters wide and 25 meters long (internally). This was considered by the authors to be an average size. A south aisle was added later. The choir, to the east, was 21 meters long and 7 meters wide. While the south wall of the choir lined up directly with the nave, the north wall extended one meter to the north beyond the northern wall of the nave.
Whether this was intentional or was the result of expansion is
Emma M. Lagan, The Dead Beneath the Floor | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Burials within the choir included a brick lined tomb for what is suspected to be one individual, and a possible grave slab. The brick lined tomb appeared to have been disturbed, possibly for the retrieval of a lead coffin. Four unlined grave cuts were identified within the choir. A second, larger tomb (larger than 0.88m) was partially exposed in an area suspected to be a chantry chapel, and likely belonged to either a family or a wealthy individual.
Several other burials had been located and identified in the east end of the church, but were not excavated because they were not threatened by on-going development. The author reports that “previous limited investigations of the west end of the nave have shown burials in coffins within the church [fifteen total], and burials apparently without coffins in the cloister” (Foreman
Records from the previous excavation show that the twelve burials excavated included a mix of adult males and females, juveniles, and one infant. The small sample records little indication of disease, with the exception of periodontal disease in the more elderly individuals. The report states that “the density of the burials and clear indications of new graves cutting into old demonstrate the overcrowding of the area as a burial ground”. Foreman (1996) notes that “bequests to the friars, some specifically linked to burial within the church are recorded from
1311 and reached a peak c.1391–1410”. Some of these names include John de Holme who desired to be buried within the church in 1421, and Thomas Hilton, who specifically requested to be buried “just inside the south door” by the stoup.
Data from the Blackfriary
The topographical survey conducted in 2010 revealed subsurface structures in the plot of ground known to contain the Blackfriary in Trim, Ireland. The basic image, when examined in conjunction with plans of other known Dominican friaries hints at the location of the church and cloister (Figure 2).
Excavations have thus far corroborated the initial assumptions of the church layout based on the topographical survey. The northeast, northwest, and southwest corners of the cloister have all been exposed with in situ architecture (see Cuttings 5, 6, and
7 in Figure 1). A portion of the southern (Cuttings 3, 4, 5) and western (Cuttings 5, 8) walls of the cloister has also been exposed, along with repurposed arches from the cloister arcade used as a pathway along the western boundary of the cloister (Cutting 8).
Fragments of architectural columns and column bases have been discovered near the remains of the walls.
Four large plinth supports/buttresses have been exposed
(Cuttings 2, 10), giving evidence for the southern boundary of the church. The southern door was located between the two westernmost plinths, as seen through the still-remaining sandstone door stoop. The space between the middle two buttresses contained a secondary deposit of human remains neatly arranged, suggesting intentional use of the space as an ossuary. Evidence for northern wall of the church is provided in the form of two parallel in situ walls (Cutting 1) which would have run perpendicular to the northern wall, forming the base or plinths of an archway. Along the same line, to the west, the foundation trench of the wall has been exposed (Cutting 3), as well as a line of in situ architectural remains along what is considered to be a wall-tomb or ossuary
Figure 2: This image shows the results of the 2010 topographical survey overlain by the current salient features on site (IAFS 2014)
Original research paper
(Cutting 3). Several large pieces of collapsed architecture have been exposed (Cuttings 1, 2) and have architectural features suggesting that they were part of a wall, archway, and staircase, likely forming portions of the bell tower.
have been found in all cuttings excepting 4 and
6, however, this section will focus primarily on the data from
Cutting 3, which contains the bulk of the burials (72%, 48 of the
66 burials on site) on the site. Data from other cuttings will be briefly discussed in this section and the next in order to indicate types of burials or deposition of remains and burial patterns.
For organizational purposes, Cutting 3 was divided into eight grids, labeled A–H. Grids A, B, G, and H are all located within what is considered to be the nave of the church, which contains a majority (88%, 42 burials) of the burials. This section of the nave lies close to the chancel arch as indicated by the remains of the crossing tower in Cutting 1. Grids C, D, E, and F are all located within the ambulatory (walkway surrounding the cloister) and the cloister itself. Due to the dense amount of material in grid
H, this grid was subsequently broken down into six quadrants, labeled 1-6. The burials will be discussed in relationship to their grids, and specific burials will be highlighted where they are considered either typical examples, or ‘outstanding’.
Burials in Grids A, B, G and H were all located beneath a thick layer of tumbled stones. Any fully articulated burials were oriented east-west with the skull located to the west. Burials are classified as infant, juvenile, sub-adult, adult, and unknown. A rudimentary sexing of the skeletons was completed on site, but a full examination of the bones will be undertaken by Dr. Rachel
Scott. Levels (measurement indicating meters above sea level) were taken on the skull, pelvis, and feet (where possible) for each burial in order to compare the depth at which they were interred.
For the purposes of this excavation, a burial is denoted by the presence of a skull, whether the skull contains an articulated body or not.
Figure 3: This image shows a general layout of the burials and salient features in Cutting 3, along with a generalized cross section of Grid G/H.
Some burials are not shown; 1, 8, 9, and 15 are not visible due to location; 6, 10, 11, 30 and 31 do not have enough provenience information for this reconstruction
Emma M. Lagan, The Dead Beneath the Floor | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Located at the southwest corner of the cutting, this grid contained nine burials: 3, 11, 12, 17, 19, 20, 28, 48, and 49. Of these burials, three (burials 3, 48 (infant) and 12 (sub-adult)) were fully articulated and excavated. Burial 17 was a skull which was removed for preservation, but showed indications being fully articulated. The other three burials were disarticulated skulls with no indications of other bones. There were few instances of DHB throughout the grid. The soil was mostly dark brown and slightly sandy with inclusions of yellow clay in strips running west-east bordering burial 12 (upcast subsoil which formed the edge of the grave cut). Also, there was a change in soil approximately 75 centimeters wide, running north-south along the full length of the intersection of grids A/H and B/G.
Burial 12 (Figure 4) was a fully extended, supine burial, with its arms crossed across the chest. There was a distinct grave cut for this burial, which was bordered to the north and south by thick yellow clay. Epiphysial fusion was incomplete, indicating the individual was a sub-adult. This particular individual had 25 vertebrae instead of the more usual 24. A sondage dug towards the lower limbs revealed a humerus of a possibly articulated skeleton beneath. The humerus was removed, but the potential burial was not excavated (see drawing 3.38, sheet 38 in the IAFS records. Not provided).
This grid is located directly to the north of Grid A. Compositionally, the grid is the same in soil structure and presence of bones.
There is limited DHB, and five burials (24, 31, 45, 51, and 55) with only two articulated skeletons – Burials 24 and 51. Burial 24 represents a fully articulated skeleton which was fully excavated.
The skeleton was fully extended and supine. The epiphyses and pelvis had barely begun fusing, suggesting a juvenile individual.
The arms were crossed low over the abdomen. A series of nails were discovered around the burial at equivalent depths, possibly suggesting the outline of a coffin. In the same area, approximately twenty centimeters above the burial, a coin was found dating to c. 1494. This skeleton was found in proximity to the anticipated northern wall of the church. The wall, however, had been dismantled to foundation level in the eighteenth century. A second burial is anticipated to be beneath Burial 24 due to the presence of bones located beneath the skeleton. Exploratory excavations have not taken place to confirm this (see drawing
3.42 in the IAFS records. Not provided.)
Grids C, D, E, and F:
These grids are located in the area making up the ambulatory and cloister. Some disarticulated human bones were found in the ambulatory mixed with animal bones. The human bones found mostly belonged to infants or toddlers. A total of six burials have been recorded in these grids (Burials 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 30), all of which were subadults (two juveniles, four infants). The burials in the cloister were located under several inches of soil with no rubble tumble on top. For the purposes of this paper, where the focus is on the use of space for burials in the nave, these ambulatory/ cloister burials will not be discussed in greater detail in this report.
This grid is located to the east of grid B, separated by the apparent physical difference in soil that separates both A/H and
B/G. At the northern end of the grid there is a line of in situ stones running on an east-west axis, anticipated to represent the northern wall of the nave (based on the fact that they fall in line with the in situ walls in Cutting 1). A smaller stretch of in situ stones at the eastern end of the grid (and cutting) abuts these stones a perpendicular angle. Another small line of stones
– not suspected to be in situ – were found towards the western extent of the grid, also running perpendicular to the north wall. Another tumbled long stone was found running east-west immediately from the western line. These four lines of stones gave the appearance of a rectangular enclosure, although no true southern boundary has yet been excavated (see Figure 5).
A large amount of DHB was found principally within these stone boundaries, but also in the immediate vicinity. The contained space was interpreted initially as an ‘ossuary’. The dense DHB layer contained remains from multiple individuals, as observed by the multiple bones of the same type/side. Seven burials were located within grid G: OSB1
, OSB2, OSB3, OSB4, Burial 4, Burial
5, and Burial 6. This set of burials included two fully articulated and excavated burials, the remainder were represented by intact skulls.
OSB 3 was a fully articulated, extended, supine burial located directly within and at the base of the ossuary. The skull was damaged from soil compression and weather conditions. The hands were positioned over the pelvis. Epiphysial fusion was complete, suggesting an adult. DHB covered the burial in its entirety and is located in bulk to the south of the burial as well as beneath the burial (minor inclusions). This burial is shown partially excavated in Figure 5. The soil beneath OSB3 was mostly sterile.
Burial 4, consisting of a complete skull and scapula, showed several indicators of trauma on the skull. Burial 5 was a fully
Figure 4: Burial 12 situated in a grave cut. Note that skull was removed prior to complete exposure due to vandalism (IAFS 2012)
The abbreviation OSB is used to denote an ‘Ossuary burial’ in which the burial was located in the remains of the ossuary in Grid G.
Original research paper
Figure 6: This image shows two burials (25 to the south, 21 to the north), surrounded by quantities of DHB. The lower limbs of Burial 16 can be seen to the north of Burial 21 (IAFS 2012)
Figure 5: Burials OSB3 (right) and 5 (left) in partial stages of excavation.
Note the amount of DHB surrounding both burials, as well as the line of stones to the north and east (IAFS 2012)
articulated and fully excavated burial located immediately south of OSB3/the ossuary. The body was supine and fully extended, although the right tibia, fibula and foot were not present. The arms were crossed at the pelvis. Epiphysial fusion suggests this burial was an adult. A shroud pin and stained glass fragments were found in association with this burial. DHB surrounded the burial in all directions. This burial is shown alongside OSB3 in
Located in the south east corner of the cutting (directly to the east of Grid A) this grid uncovered an abundance of DHB immediately to the east of the soil division between grids A and
H. The remains were very compact with a high frequency of bone.
Approximately twenty centimeters of DHB were removed from underneath the rubble layer. The uppermost portion had mixed human and animal bones. Similar to Grid G, the DHB contains remains from many individuals, as seen through the repetition of bones. To date, 21 burials have been identified, composing 44% of the total number of burials in Cutting 3 (Figure 6): Burials
10, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 29, 32, 46, 47, 53, 57, 58, 59,
60, 61, and 62. Of these, ten were articulated or expected to be articulated (due to time limits and complexity of the area, not all burials were fully excavated during the 2013 season).
The burials present contain a mix of adult and sub-adult remains, although a majority of the burials appear to be adult. The fully articulated burials in this area directly overlapped one another in many cases; for instance, the skull of Burial 29 being immediately below the right leg of Burial 16, or the ‘stacked’ burials 58, 13,
and 59 (see Figure 7). Burial 32, located in quadrant three, immediately to the south of burial 5 in Grid G, was a fully articulated, fully extended, supine burial. The arms were placed alongside the body, as opposed to being crossed over it. The mandible of this individual showed evidence for sharp force trauma.
The rest of the site:
As mentioned previously, human remains have been found in a majority of the other cuttings, totaling 66 burials exposed over three field seasons. A summary follows. Cutting 1: two burials, both infant (27, 18). Cutting 2: four burials, three infant
(40, 44, 52) and one adult cranium (50). Cutting 4: no burials identified. Cutting 5: One burial (42). Cutting 6: no burials identified. Cutting 7: one burial (33). Cutting 8: one burial, infant
(34). Cutting 9: three burials (41, 43, 56). Cutting 10, uniquely, contained a secondary deposit of human remains laid out in an organized fashion between two of the foundation plinths
(Figure 8). These remains were commingled DHB of multiple individuals, consisting of a variety of bone elements, including five skulls. One fully articulated burial (54) was present.
Situating the burials
Excavations in Cutting 3 show a distinct difference of burial types within the church. The starkest difference is in the sharp change between the fully extended, articulated, uncrowded burials of Grids A/B to the dense, cluttered, overlapping burials buried beneath layers of DHB in Grids G/H. Both areas are dimensionally equal and have been excavated to the same level, but the A/B grids have, combined, exposed and excavated
14 burials (only five of which are articulated/expected to be articulated) as compared to grids G/H which have exposed 28 burials (12 of which were articulated/expected to be articulated).
While the individual patterns seen in each grid group are not uncommon, comparative data has yet to reveal a combination of these methods in a way similar to the Blackfriary. Guilford Friary, for instance, demonstrated a uniformity of burial not seen at the
Blackfriary. Further research will continue to be undertaken, and future excavations of the nave will hopefully reveal more burials that continue current trends, as well as potential architectural structures which could provide an explanation for the differentiation seen currently. Some questions to consider are: Is there a physical barrier limiting the burials such as a rood screen (a current theory)? Was the church expanded to
Emma M. Lagan, The Dead Beneath the Floor | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
the west? Was a wall tomb or family tomb present? Ó Clabaigh
(2012:234) notes that within the nave, it was not uncommon to have “niches recessed into the walls with the burial vaults set into the foundation”. This could be the feature seen bordering OSB3.
Burials in the four grids composing the nave (A/B/G/H) were all located under a thick rubble layer. According to Potterton
(2005), the friary had been reduced to only slightly identifiable ruins in the late 1700s and complete ruins by the 1800s. Because of this, it is likely that all of the burials within the nave took place before this time period. The coin found approximately 20cm above burial 24 dated to c. 1494, suggesting that this particular burial was interred before that date. A shard of medieval pottery at a similar level gives further credence to this assumption.
Unfortunately, no further dateable objects were discovered in these areas. It is likely that a majority of these burials are medieval in date and occurred before the monastery transferred to Donore in 1713, and some of them (such as burial 24) are more likely to have been interred before the first dissolution of the monastery in 1540.
Evidence from the 2013 field season shows that it is likely that the local community continued to use the grounds for burial in the periods during which the friary was not in use. To date, two infant burials – one in Cutting 1, the second in Cutting 2 – have been found above the rubble layer. Burial 44 (the infant in Cutting
2) was discovered with a lead shot in its cranium. Whether these are victims of infanticide – a practice not uncommon in eighteenth century Ireland (Kelly 1992) – is unknown, but their burial above the rubble layer does indicate that the community likely continued to consider the grounds as sacred and use them for discreet burials even post dissolution or destruction. The possible ossuary in Cutting 10 has no date associated with it, but it is thought to have resulted from the dismantling of tombs by those quarrying the church and the need to dispose of the interred humans remains with a modicum of respect.
The continuation of the site as a burial ground, possibly up until the 19th or even the 20th centuries is a theme that is anticipated to be explored further in future field seasons.
One of the questions we must ask of the data is: who were the people buried at the Blackfriary? And why were they buried in such a differentiated manner? Poulton and Woods (1984) state that burials within the church at the Dominican priory of
Guildford would have been more desirable than burials in the cemetery. According to Binski (1996:57), these practices would have started in the thirteenth century, around the time of the foundation of the Blackfriary, and would have been reserved for the more privileged laity. Over time, as burials within the church became slightly more common, status was indicated through the location within the church, use of coffins, and tombs. This being said, it is likely that any of the burials within the friary indicate some form of wealth on the part of the deceased, or their family, or indicated membership within the friary. The burials within
Cutting 3 are likely to have been located at least ten meters from the altar area. Does this mean that they were less wealthy than other members of the community? Is there a change in wealth or status between the burials of Grids A/B versus Grids G/H?
Unfortunately, we do not yet have any indication of the exact location of the altar, let alone burials surrounding the area.
Perhaps with further excavations, we will be able to answer this question.
Possible evidence for wooden coffins has been found in the form of nails located in a similar context as burials. It is possible that these burials could represent wealthier individuals who were able to obtain a coffin. So far, no lead coffins have been found, although other priories, both Dominican and other, have been known to contain such burials. These may not have been available, affordable, or practical for residents of Trim; however, further excavations may yet reveal such coffins. As excavations progress, a comparison of the use and location of coffin-based interments may provide more information about the individuals buried; for instance, Foreman (1996) noticed that cloister burials
Figure 7: These burials, located in Grid H, demonstrate overlapping burial depositions as well as DHB (IAFS 2013)
Figure 8: This image shows students working on the ossuary in Cutting 10, situated directly between two foundation buttresses (plinths) (IAFS 2013, photograph by Emma Lagan)
Original research paper
at Beverly did not use coffins and may have been the burials of monks.
The burial of OSB3 was clearly within a stone lined tomb, and, due to burial depth and lack of bones beneath it, is thought to be the original occupant. Based on the location of the tomb in regards to other architectural remains, it is thought that this tomb was built into the wall of the church. The stones making up the northern boundary of the tomb are therefore in part, the original wall of the church, whereas the stones forming the eastern boundary of the tomb would have been inserted specifically to line the tomb itself. This burial is very likely to have belonged to a wealthy individual. No grave goods were found in association with this burial (which is not unusual in the context of a Christian burial), so the assumption of wealth is based solely on the tomb type.
At least two burials – Burials 4 and 32, interred in relatively close proximity – are known to have trauma to the skull. Both burials have been analyzed by osteoarchaeologist Dr. Rachel
Scott and determined to be male. Burial 4 displayed healed blunt force trauma and unhealed sharp force trauma to the cranium.
Burial 5 displayed sharp force trauma, likely from a blade, on the mandible. Could these be warriors or soldiers? We know that one of the burials in the cemetery as uncovered in 2008 also displayed sharp and blunt force trauma; is there a reason Burials
4 and 32 were interred in the church as opposed to the cemetery with the other wounded skeleton?
While indication of status is present in the data set available, it is only available in generalizations. Clearly the individuals buried within the church had enough money to be placed there, but other information about them is extraordinarily limited. Does the ‘charnel pit’ making up most of Grids G/H represent a family tomb where multiple members of the same wealthy family were interred over time? Were the male burials with trauma warriors who died around the same time? Unfortunately, the lack of floor tiles, grave markers, or boundaries to date make these assumptions difficult to validate. interesting area of study. These remains will help paint a picture of the medieval and possibly post-medieval community of Trim,
Ireland. As over a hundred previous excavations have taken place within Trim, results from this current excavation can add to existing knowledge and potentially fill in gaps in the information about the community and individuals who were an integral part of its daily life.
Rodwell (2005:38) stated that the history of most churches
“may be compared to an iceberg: only the tip shows, and there is far more concealed from view”. This is indeed the case for the
Blackfriary, which now lies in ruins beneath the soil. Its entire story is in the process of being learned by the archaeologists who diligently excavate it, exposing new sections and adding to the story every year. The burials, and specifically their strategic placement within the church, help to restore a human presence to the site, painting a picture of the community of Trim.
IAFS and the community
The excavations at Blackfriary are conducted by the Irish
Archaeological Field School, but are also considered to be part of the Blackfriary Community Archaeological Project. In this situation, we consider it important to involve the current, living community of Trim and keep them informed. Community members are welcome to visit site at any point, and Open Days and other public events are hosted over the summer. For more information, visit <www.iafs.ie>.
The author would like to thank CRDs/IAFS for their continual support, especially Finola O’Carroll, Stephen Mandal, Rachel
Scott, Bairbre Mullee, and Caroline Henry who have all been instrumental in the success of this project, as well as Trim County
Council and the community of Trim. Also, Kirsten Morrison for taking time out of her busy schedule to review the final draft.
Finally, the author would like to thank the diligent editors and reviewers at Dig It for their time and energy!
This paper set out to analyze the burials excavated in the nave of the Dominican Blackfriary in Trim, Ireland during the 2010-
2013 field seasons. By examining the data set, comparing it to other known data sets, and analyzing it in the context of societal attitudes at the time period, I attempted to understand the burials present. The easiest, most viable conclusion to draw is that, because of their burial within the church, it is likely that these individuals had some form of wealth or status.
Explanations for the distinct division of burial types between
A/B and G/H have been postulated, but remain inconclusive.
Similarly, the burials were unable to be accurately dated due to a lack of grave goods, with the exception of one coin, making it difficult to determine the order of events that would have caused these burials to be interred. Their interment would have taken place prior to the collapse of the architecture, and potentially before the dissolution of the priory in 1540.
This paper represents one of the few studies regarding burials within a Dominican priory, and therefore offers the unique opportunity to learn more about burial practices—both standard and unique patterns, and will further knowledge about medieval burial practices. Further, between past and anticipated excavations, which are guaranteed to uncover more remains, there is a large sample size, making this a viable and
1886 Trim: Its Ecclesiastical Ruins, Its Castle, Etc. Dublin: The Irish
Binski, P. 1996 Medieval Death. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Byrne, J.P. 2006 Daily Life During the Black Death. Westport: Greenwood
Conwell, E.A. 1878 A Ramble Around Trim. Dublin.
Foreman, M. 1996 Further Excavations at the Dominican Priory, Beverly,
1986-89. Sheffield Excavation Reports 4.
Kelly, J. 1992 Infanticide in Eighteenth Century Ireland. Irish Economic
and Society History 19:5-26.
Ó Clabaigh, C. 2012 The Friars in Ireland 1224–1540. Dublin: Four
Potterton, M. 2005 Medieval Trim. Dublin: Four Courts Press.
Poulton, R. and H. Woods 1984. Excavations on the Site of the
Dominican Friary at Guildford in 1974 and 1978. Guildford: Surrey
Rodwell, W. 2005 The Archaeology of Churches. Glouchestershire:
Tempus Publishing Limited.
Seaver, M., M. Kelly, and C. Travers 2009 Burials at the well: excavations at the Black Friary, Trim. In M. Potterton and M. Seaver (eds),
Uncovering Medieval Trim, pp.293–332. Dublin: Four Courts.
The Dilmun Burial Mounds of Bahrain:
An introduction to the site and the importance of awareness raising towards successful preservation
Archaeological Heritage Specialist at Think Heritage!,
Muharraq, Bahrain, <[email protected]>
This article aims to provide an introduction to the history and development of the extensive Bronze Age burial mound cemeteries of Bahrain. In addition, the paper discusses the aftermath of centennial excavations executed without community involvement and how awareness raising measures could be applied to counteract the resultant negative effects.
Although the amount of the four millennia old Dilmun Burial
Mounds has diminished considerably over the last decades due to modern development, the number and density of the remaining burial mounds as well as their construction technique is still unrivalled in the world. It is therefore intended that these Dilmun
Burial Mounds be nominated as a United Nations Scientific,
Educational and Cultural Organisation (henceforth UNESCO)
World Heritage Site. Such a nomination, however, requires a high level of commitment by all stakeholders involved, and therefore, awareness-raising measures should be introduced among the local community to increase knowledge and appreciation of it, as this is a prerequisite for the successful preservation of their outstanding heritage.
The 4000-year old Dilmun Burial Mounds of Bahrain are unique in the world. Albeit burial mounds occur globally, no burial mound construction technique is alike to the one presented by the Dilmun mounds. Although only 15,000 tumuli remain from a number that once exceeded 75,000, their number and density is outstanding and cannot be found elsewhere. Yet, the still existing burial mounds are extraordinary and therefore foreseen to be nominated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The ‘vast see of sepulchral mounds’ (Bent, quoted in Rice
1983:80) attracted the attention of passers-by ever since their construction. In antiquity it was mainly grave robbers who targeted them. Later, at least since the 19th century, the mounds shifted more and more into the focus of European travellers and archaeologists.
The first recorded research is from the year 1878 when the young
British Officer Captain E. L. Durand came to Bahrain and could not resist his curiosity. He conducted the very first excavations of the Dilmun mounds (Rice 1983:112). Since then, several archaeological expeditions landed in Bahrain all with the same objective – to reveal the mounds’ secrets. Almost 140 years of research brought to light astonishing new insights and an extensive stock of information that until today serves researchers to reconstruct the history of the Early Dilmun civilization.
Besides many other prerequisites, a nomination for a World
Heritage Site requires a high level of commitment by all the stakeholders involved. However, the extensive destruction
Figure 1: Hamad Town 2 Burial Mound Field (near Karzakkan), looking south-west (photograph by author, 12th October 2013)
throughout the last decades shows the low level of appreciation and awareness of the mounds’ exceptional value among the local community. The reason for that seems to be mainly rooted in a lack of knowledge. Dozens of researchers bear part of the responsibility, as they omitted to properly involve and inform the local community in the past. However, a first change in mind-set can be recognised. Yet, more efforts need to be exerted to boost people’s awareness of the need for preservation of their unique heritage.
This paper aims to provide an overview of the unique history of the Dilmun Burial Mounds and the interaction between the people and their heritage. At the same time it intends to highlight some awareness raising measures and their capacity to improve the preservation process.
The rise of Dilmun
The Dilmun Burial Mounds were constructed during the Early
Dilmun period, a period of approximately 450 years that lasted from 2200 till 1750 BCE. During that time Bahrain became the political centre of a unified region encompassing Failaka Island,
Bahrain and the east coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Dilmun grew in prosperity, as its capital became an important trade hub in the Arabian Gulf. Its strategic location in the centre of the Gulf contributed to Dilmun’s importance in the international maritime trade that took place mainly between Dilmun, Mesopotamia, the
Indus Valley, and the Land of Magan which is today’s Oman. The traded goods associated with Dilmun included copper, both as raw material as well as diverse finished forms, pearls, beads of carnelian, lapis lazuli, coral, turtle shells, ivory, antimony, and timber. Whereas pearls and turtles are native to Bahrain, the other goods needed to be imported (Larsen 1983:40-41).
The remarkable affluence of the island is also reflected in extensive settlement activities (Roaf 2003:25). Besides the sepulchral remains, the island possesses few settlement and worship sites that are related to the Early Dilmun civilization.
Original research paper
The Outstanding Universal Value of the site of Qal’at al-Bahrain:
Ancient Capital and Harbour of Dilmun was already recognized by the global community when it was inscribed on the UNESCO
World Heritage List in 2005 (UNESCO 2014b). Further sites are
Barbar Temples, consisting of three temples succeeding each other with architectural features that resemble Sumerian temples
(Rice 1994:156), Diraz Temple (Roaf 2003:25), Ain Umm as-
Sujur, once the largest fresh water spring in Bahrain (Rice
1994:172), and Saar, a heritage complex that consists of temple, settlement, and cemetery (Killick 2003:13).
Non-sepulchral sites related to the Early Dilmun Period are scarce and the one site that possesses the highest amount of information, Qal’at al-Bahrain, hides the Dilmun time remains under several meters of younger settlement layers. The Dilmun
Burial Mounds are hence the best accessible and most obvious
Early Dilmun remains. They tell us about the Early Dilmun people’s life style, their age, and their diseases. The mounds represent tens of thousands of private tragedies and life stories.
The Dilmun burial mounds
A total of 75,000 Dilmun burial mounds once covered an area of circa 26 km
. That is a remarkable expanse taking into account the rather small size of the island of Bahrain extending over an area of 765.3 km
(Kingdom of Bahrain, Central Informatics
Organisation 2012). The location for constructing the tumuli was carefully chosen and followed an elaborate land use concept.
Therefore it is important to understand the geological condition of Bahrain.
Geologically, Bahrain has certain interesting characteristics.
‘Barren limestone slopes rise gently inland away from the coastal plains until they reach the rim rocks of the central depression.
Cultivatable soils are found both within the central depression and on the surrounding coastal plains’ (Larsen 1983:6-7).
Bahrain’s fertility, one of the key factors for its wealth in the past, derives from yet another geological peculiarity. For millions of years powerful fossil aquifers evolved from precipitation that was absorbed from massive limestone layers. Thanks to Bahrain’s anticlinal structure above a basement with faults, fresh water resurfaces in the form of artesian springs. These wells occur on land as well as underwater, but are limited to the northern part of the island. They assured abundant irrigation and drinking water supply. Today the fresh water springs are mostly dried out despite a small number still remaining and reminiscent of the past’s richness (Dalongeville 2000:28-32).
As a result of the limited fresh water supply, agriculture was narrowed to the northern and western portions of Bahrain.
Naturally, settlement activities are associated to fertile areas.
And, as burial sites are related to settlements, the burial mound cemeteries occur solely in the northern and western parts of the island. It must have been important to the ancient inhabitants of
Bahrain to bury their deceased at a reachable distance, yet without wasting the scarce fertile land. As a matter of fact ‘bedrock lies just below the surface. Thus, areas with burial mounds were not
‘wasted’ space because these zones were in fact of no use for gardening’ (Daems et al. 2001:175).
The evolution of the Early Dilmun civilization is best reflected in changing burial practices and the design of the burial mounds.
The different types of tumuli illustrate the increasing wealth and importance of the ancient inhabitants of Bahrain. They also reflect upon the rising complexity of the Early Dilmun society.
There are two main types: the Early Type burial mounds (2200-
2050 BCE), and the Late Type burial mounds (2050-1750 BCE).
Cornwall (quoted in Rice 1983:200), one of the earliest excavators, describes the Early Type burial mounds as ‘small and compact rock tumuli’. Their average diameter is noted as
2.5 meters. Their average height does not exceed 1.5 meters, although larger mounds occasionally occur (Laursen 2008:157).
Laursen (2008:157-158) identifies a variety of burial chamber layouts; the one of the smaller mounds normally being oval, while larger mounds show ‘chambers with several recesses or alcoves that give the chambers a distinctive L-, T-, or H-shape, or an even more complex shape’. The Early Type burial mounds are primarily situated on the slopes of the limestone formation in central Bahrain. They normally appear scattered rather than clustered, and follow the splintered topography of the wadi banks. There is also a geographical connection to the Late Type mounds. Of approximately 17,000 Early Type burial mounds that once covered the island (Laursen 2008:159), merely 2,000 remain.
Figure 2: The original distribution of the Dilmun Burial Mounds (Laursen
Figure 3: Examples of the Early Type burial mound (a) and the Late Type burial mound (b) (Laursen 2010:116)
Melanie Münzner, The Dilmun Burial Mounds of Bahrain | Dig It 2(1):2-71 (2014)
Figure 4: Section through a burial mound, right side in its present condition, left side reconstructed (Højlund 2007:35)
The Late Type burial mounds are generally larger and appear in a higher density compared to the Early Type mounds. Another distinctive feature is the immense conical layer of soil that covers the grave chamber. The average burial mounds are about
2-3 meters in height and 6-11 meters in diameter. However, there are formidable larger exceptions (Laursen 2008:159).
These variations suggest a more diversified and hierarchical society. Consequently, a group of extraordinary large mounds are referred to as Royal Mounds. They are up to 12 meters in height and 50 meters in diameter (Højlund 2007:26). The Late
Type tumuli consist of regular stone-built grave chambers with capstone slaps. Similar to the Early Type mounds the shapes of the chambers vary between L-, T-, and H-shape. More complex shapes also occur (Laursen 2008:159). The Royal Mounds usually demonstrate two-storey burial chambers as well as four or six niches with plastered walls. In contrast to the ordinary mounds, the Royal Mounds are accessible either through a shaft or a passage (Højlund 2007:29). The tumuli normally appear in crowded cemeteries along the western side of Bahrain’s limestone dome (Laursen 2008:159). Rice (1994:198-199) even argues that the Late Type tumuli cemeteries have been built on an industrial basis. He reasoned that the tumuli are laid out in
‘funerary estates’ (Rice 1994:199) rather than in scattered zones.
The industrialized construction could also explain why several mounds have been found without human remains; they were built speculatively and remained untenanted. Some 58,000 Late
Type mounds were recorded by the Danish-Bahraini mapping project (Laursen 2008:159). About 13,000 of them still exist.
Although the burial mounds are referred to as mounds owed to their today’s appearance, they were in fact not constructed as such. Archaeological evidence shows that they were built as cylindrical stone towers (Højlund 1992, 2007; Velde 1994). The most crucial indicator for the latter is the presence of the stone wall surrounding the grave chamber. As a result of limited space, the ring walls of a few of the mounds were constructed right next to each other, which provided mutual support and, at the same time, hindered them from decay. Over the course of time several examples of standing ‘double-walls’ have been found, clearly testifying to the idea of towers (Velde 1994:64-66). Where neighbouring mounds did not stabilize the ring-wall, it was exposed to natural erosion and, as a result, collapsed. Drifting soil and sand then covered the subsided stones forming the mound as we see it today (Højlund 2007:33). The Royal Mounds possess an additional smaller ring wall situated higher in the mound. Højlund (2007:33) consequently suggests that these mounds “had the shape of a terraced building, or ziggurat”. This terraced design is widely known from Mesopotamia but also from the local Barbar Temples (Højlund 2007:33).
Even though burials were heavily looted during antiquity, human remains mainly persist untouched, at times however the skeletal remains are found disordered or clustered in one
Figure 5: Partially excavated burial mound in Janabiyah cemetery that displays lower and upper ring wall, looking north (photograph by author,
2nd February 2014)
corner. Deceased usually lay in a foetal position on the right side, occasionally left, facing north or south respectively. The hands are placed before the face (Soweileh 1995:197). There is no archaeological evidence of any coffin-like container, nor the body being covered with soil. Men, women and children seem to have been treated equitably, as no differentiation in burial costume can be observed (Breuil 2000:51).
Unfortunately most of the graves are not found in their original archaeological context, since the intrusion of grave robbers in antiquity (Rice 1994:178). However, the elaborate architectural quality of the burial mounds might indicate that likewise rich grave furniture was deposited with the dead (Breuil 2000:51). It can also be assumed that grave robbers stole the most valuable objects such as bronze items, jewellery or high quality pottery, while smaller, less visible items as well as less valuable pottery were neglected. In any case, all the items found in the burial mounds correspond to the findings made in Qal’at al-Bahrain, the ancient harbour and capital of Dilmun (Larsen 1983:34). Among the excavated grave furniture is a great variety of pottery, both of local and foreign origin, various copper and bronze items such as daggers, jewellery and dress ornaments, a few number of seals, diverse ivory objects, beads made of carnelian, agate and paste; and various objects of shells including beads, pendants, discs, ear studs, and stamp seals (Mughal 1983:68-69; Rice 1994:179,
196). Remains of ovicaprids and fish are also occasionally found in the burials. Since the uncovered animal remains are limited to eatable species, they may be regarded as part of a funeral meal
The centennial research history of the burial mounds
It can be assumed that the massive burial mound fields, “perhaps the most interesting feature of Bahrain” (Mackay, quoted in Rice
1983:133), have attracted the attention of many explorers and travellers who visited Bahrain throughout the last centuries. The sheer density of the tumuli fields paired with their inaccessibility must have awoken the urge to uncover the mounds’ mysterious interior in numerous of its beholders. A few inquisitive explorers might have opened one or more mounds out of curiosity, yet without sharing the finds with the rest of the world. Subsequently,
Original research paper
there is no record of these early investigations that most likely have taken place. First available records date to the late 18th century.
British Officer Captain E. L. Durand, based in Bahrain, was the first person to not only conduct excavations at the burial mounds, but to record his finds. In the late 1880s he started by opening two mounds in the village of Aali. Even though one can attest him best intentions, the excavation methods he used cannot be acknowledged as professional in today’s society. First, he tested his skills at a smaller tumulus. Consequently he started to work on one of the largest Royal Mounds, where he encountered considerable difficulties due to his lack of archaeological skills.
As a result, the roof of the main chamber had fallen inside and destroyed any significant finding contexts (Rice 1983:112).
Though Durand’s excavations were not of professional standards, he provided the world a first idea of the mounds’ interior.
In 1889 Mr. and Mrs. J. Theodore Bent opened yet another Royal
Mound in Aali. They found a two-storey tomb with rich grave furniture including ivory, circular boxes, fragments of various statues, pottery, ostrich shells, and pieces of oxidised metal. The
Bents started excavating one further mound but did not remove the debris that had filled up the tomb. Consequently, they could not gain more information about burial rite and grave furniture
Only four years later, in 1903, M. A. Jouannin obtained the permission to conduct further investigations. He selected a comparatively small tumulus. He tunnelled into the interior of the mound, where he found only a few bones and some pottery. The results did not appeal to him, so he stopped further examination (Rice 1983:115).
Colonel F. B. Prideaux, who travelled to Bahrain under the auspices of the Archaeological Department of the Government of India, was the first person to conduct what can be called scientific excavations in Bahrain. Like others, Prideaux reproduced observations from Durand, but he also added valuable information that he published later on (Rice 1983:103-
104). In 1906, when Prideaux started his fieldwork, his major aim was to answer the question of the origin of the burial mounds.
He not only examined a formidable number of 67 tumuli but also was the first person to document the pottery in and around the mounds (Prideaux, quoted in Rice 1983:105).
Ernest Mackay, a young archaeologist sent to Bahrain by Sir
Flinders Petri in 1925, was the first person to analyse the different construction techniques of the mounds. He opened a total of 34 mounds, of which 21 comprised human remains and various artefacts. Among the most sensational findings are a fragmented ivory figurine of a girl, and various bronze objects (Mackay, quoted in Rice 1983:130). The technical report of his findings is outstanding, comprising valuable maps and sketches. His observations however led him to draw the wrong conclusion that
Bahrain is not Dilmun and that the island could not have hosted a population as large as the number of burial mounds would imply.
The latter was disproved by several studies (Rice 1994:176.). Yet another contradicting factor to Mackay’s theory is the absence of any evidence which would allow the assumption that deceased were brought to the island for burial (Rice 1994:176).
In 1940-41, another young scholar, Peter Bruce Cornwall, visited the island of Bahrain and conducted extensive fieldwork on the island in addition to some minor investigations on the eastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula. Beside various other archaeological sites he excavated 30 burial mounds in Bahrain
(Cornwall, quoted in Rice 1983:192-194). Cornwall was the first to distinguish between two types of burial mounds – ‘small and compact rock tumuli’ and ‘mounds that are gravel-covered and contain at least one well-made tomb chamber’ (Cornwall, quoted in Rice 1983:200).
Since the early 1950s the Danish Archaeological Expedition has been committed to drawing a holistic picture of the ancient civilization of Dilmun. With the discovery of Qal’at al-Bahrain, the ancient capital and harbour of Dilmun, and the Barbar
Temples the Danish were able to provide valuable information on the life of the mound builders. During the last years the
Danish Mission dedicated their research to the burial mounds.
The Moesgaard Museum in co-operation with the Bahrain
Directorate of Culture & National Heritage launched the Bahrain
Burial Mound Project that intends to digitally map the burial mounds from aerial photos in a Geographical Information
System, in order to provide an efficient tool for future research.
Figure 6: Grave chamber and blocked entrance of one of the Royal Mounds in Aali (photograph by author, 2nd February 2014)
Figure 7: Excavated Late Type burial mound in Hamad Town 2 Burial
Mound Field (near Karzakkan), looking west (photograph by author, 12th
Melanie Münzner, The Dilmun Burial Mounds of Bahrain | Dig It 2(1):2-71 (2014)
Besides that, the Danish are conducting excavations at the Royal
Mounds in Aali where they have discovered several new details that shed light on the architectural finesse of these impressive mounds (Bibby 1970; Højlund 2007; Laursen 2008).
In the 1980s numerous other international teams were engaged in the exploration of the Dilmun Burial Mounds. Among them were the Australian expedition led by Lowe (Lowe 1986), an
Indian team (Srivastastava 1991), a British team (Roaf 2003), and the French Archaeological Mission (Cleuziou 1981).
A great amount of mounds were excavated by the Bahrain
National Museum, especially since 1960s, when the progressing urban development enforced the need for rescue excavations.
Despite few exceptions (Ibrahim 1982; Mughal 1983), most of the findings are not published.
Current challenges and the need for preservation
For more than a century, researchers have been collecting a huge amount of information about the Dilmun Burial Mounds.
The scientific community highly benefited from numerous archaeological reports that not only draw a picture about the
Early Dilmun sepulchral traditions but provide insights in the structure, hierarchy and life of the Dilmun society. Since Bahrain was part of a great maritime trading network, the island was not only influenced by other civilizations but also had a great impact on its neighbours. The discoveries in Bahrain are hence internationally important. The Dilmun Burial Mounds are significant not only because they are directly related to other ancient regions and archaeological disciplines, but especially because their amount, density, and construction technique is unique in the world.
Although the burial mounds receive appreciation from the international archaeological community, locally they are widely neglected. This is also reflected in the long research history. Travel reports of former researchers tell about interactions with the elite but very little about interactions with the remaining population
(Durand, quoted in Rice 1983:18; Bent, quoted in Rice 1983:73,
75; Bibby 1970:8, 39, 95). Of course, good relations with decision makers ensure the continuation of excavations and in older times archaeologists also had little conscience of the need for preservation. In the rare cases of researchers interacting with locals, the main intention was to acquire information and hints to advance the success of archaeological surveys and excavations
(Durand, quoted in Rice 1983). Consequently, very little about the burial mounds’ value and uniqueness has been shared with the local community. In fact, most of the people living in Bahrain have very little or no knowledge about the mounds. They might be aware that the mounds are ancient structures, but details about their history and importance has never been communicated to them. Resultant, the burial mounds are widely depreciated, which is mainly expressed in their destruction and removal.
Urban development is the major reason for such interference.
Bahrain, an archipelago of over thirty islands and islets, has limited space to offer to its increasing population. With 1,701 inhabitants per km
it is the fifth most densely populated nation in the world (World Bank 2014). The growth of population is remarkable; its number of inhabitants increased from ca. 360,000 in 1980 to almost 1.3 million in 2010 (UN 2011). The necessity for additional infrastructure and housing has always been the thriving factor for the removal and destruction of the ancient sepulchral structures. However, thousands of mounds have been removed without developing the empty space afterwards.
Although this is an exception, it exemplifies unjustified destruction.
Approximately 80% of the ancient tumuli have been removed since the 1960s. Yet an outstanding number of about 15,000
Dilmun burial mounds keep on existing and are now protected by the National Heritage Law. However, development pressure does not only remain a serious threat but seems to be supported by parts of the local community. The area counsellor of Hamad
Town for instance stated ‘we are not saying remove them all, but hundreds could go’ (Gulf Daily News 2013). Hamad Town, a town that was developed from scratch in the 1980s, embeds the remains of three major burial mound cemeteries that together comprise almost 6,500 ancient tumuli to date.
The most recurring argument is that the needs of the living should be given priority over those of the dead. This reasoning best reflects the lack of awareness by the people. Experience shows that people change their point of view whenever they are provided with more information. In almost all the cases locals started to appreciate their heritage once they learned about the extraordinariness of the burial mounds. They begin to become proud of it (Atalay 2012).
Besides the very important factor of forming identity, heritage sites also become an increasingly valuable economic driver throughout the Gulf countries. Currently, the number of tourists visiting the ancient tumuli amounts close to zero, although the burial mounds are listed among the Top Ten Must-Do’s presented on the Ministry of Culture’s website (Kingdom of Bahrain,
Ministry of Culture 2014). At TripAdvisor, for instance, one of the biggest international travel websites where people comment and review worldwide attractions, the burial mounds received only one single review (TripAdvisor 2014b). In comparison, more than 200 people commented on the Bahrain National
Figure 8: New houses next to Hamad Town 1 Burial Mound Field near
Buri (photograph by author, 12th October 2013)
Figure 9: Potter preparing clay in a workshop in Aali (photograph by author, 2nd February 2014)
Original research paper
Museum (TripAdvisor 2014a). The differential numbers reflect to what extent the national and international community neglect the Dilmun tumuli.
The burial mound fields are mainly located in villages, of which some are fairly new and purely residential areas and others originate in traditional settlements with a long history. Especially the village of Aali could financially benefit from increasing visitor numbers, as it is one of Bahrain’s main handicraft centres.
Throughout the region Aali is famous for its pottery products.
Since a long time local artisans have passed on their knowledge from generation to generation. The potters established their workshops in between the huge Royal Mounds of Aali and transformed some of the ancient grave chambers into kilns. It can be assumed that already in ancient times Aali was the place of pottery production due to the village’s close vicinity to natural clay sources.
It is not only people who would benefit from an increase in tourism. Provided, of course, that a tourism strategy is carried out in a cautious way, also the archaeological remains would benefit.
At the moment very little is done in terms of conservation, protection, or maintenance. A wider attention would also require an increased level of presentation and interpretation, crucial transmitters to convey information and to raise awareness. In addition, presentation includes the maintenance of the heritage site that does not only include a proper fencing and clearing out of litter, but also proper conservation and consolidation of the archaeological remains. Occasional heavy rainfalls and strong storms accelerate erosion processes. Especially excavated mounds suffer from fragile excavation slopes and sliding material.
As a result, awareness raising and sustainable tourism strategies benefit the heritage asset as well as the local community itself.
The power of awareness raising in the preservation process
The government already made a first big move when it recognised the burial mounds’ importance and listed them on the UNESCO
Tentative List (UNESCO 2014a). This is the first step for a future inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List that guarantees not only the international recognition of the site’s Outstanding
Universal Value but also the auspices of its protection and adequate conservation.
However, in order to successfully list a site certain requirements must be fulfilled. Besides legal protection, effective administrative structures, facilitation of research, adequate conservation, and the presentation and interpretation of the site, awareness raising is one of the crucial factors. Enhancing public awareness of the significance of the Dilmun Burial Mounds and their inherent historical value aims to foster the appreciation of the site as well as the willingness to contribute to its preservation. In the following paragraphs some methods are presented that may contribute to awareness raising and could be easily implemented by the respective responsible. As a general rule, the local community should never be neglected or underestimated, neither during excavations nor later when it comes to the presentation of the site.
The involvement of local people should always start when excavations begin (Atalay 2012). For many years the maximum level of local participation was the people’s temporary employment as labourers in order to assist the foreign archaeological teams in accomplishing their research objectives. Such behaviour
Figure 10: Royal Mound embedded in the urban fabric of Aali village
(photograph by author, 2nd February 2014)
provoked feelings of exclusion and might have fostered the idea of foreign intruders. Today, a change in mind-set can be observed and the question of heritage preservation and presentation gains more and more attention in the archaeological community. As stated earlier, community involvement and awareness raising are significant components of heritage preservation.
Archaeologists have the ability to provide locals with first hand information. In the rarest of cases, especially in countries like
Bahrain where privacy is of highest value, will locals approach researchers by themselves. Open days, for instance, would provide an ideal platform to convey the site’s value to the people.
The possibility to visit the site should however be communicated adequately, either orally or through other mediums. Another great possibility that has been implemented by the Danish
Archaeological Mission in 2013 is to invite volunteers to do hands-on excavation work. Therefore, the team collaborated with a local school and invited pupils and other interested persons every Saturday to the excavation site.
Schools possess a power that goes far beyond the occasional involvement of the local community. It is an institution with greatest potential to leave a long-term impression. It is highly recommended to enforce lessons of ancient history in the school curricula, so children gain a holistic picture of the history of the country they are living in. This, of course, can only be achieved through the effort of local stakeholders. However, international and local archaeologists can work hand in hand to develop educational resource material for teachers and students. Lecture series in schools and universities are yet another method to spread information about the burial mounds and their need for protection. In addition, regular school visits to the sites should be encouraged. Excursions however only make sense if a knowledgeable person guides them when, like it is the case for the Dilmun Burial Mounds, on-site interpretation facilities are yet to be implemented.
There are other approaches that help boost awareness such as events or exhibitions that target the asset. A public photo competition, for example, would have three positive effects.
Firstly, people are encouraged to discover the heritage site and, by doing so, learn about it. Secondly, the contributions could become valuable resources for the site’s administrative body as well as for researchers. And finally, selected photos could be assembled for a small travelling exhibition that could be presented in public institutions, community centres, or schools.
By doing so, huge numbers of different people could be reached.
Melanie Münzner, The Dilmun Burial Mounds of Bahrain | Dig It 2(1):2-71 (2014)
The Dilmun Burial Mounds of Bahrain are unique in the world and should therefore be treated with an appropriate level of attention. The mound cemeteries have been harmed and have diminished in number in the past five decades, yet they still constitute an outstanding heritage asset that is targeted to be nominated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in the near future.
Although the burial mounds and their inherent historic value find wide recognition in the scientific community, local people show little appreciation for their own heritage which seems to be mainly rooted in a lack of knowledge. Considering the latter, it is not surprising that mounds are demolished and vandalised.
Awareness raising campaigns have the power to counteract ignorance and neglect, and should be promptly implemented to avoid further disturbances.
Spreading information and knowledge of the burial mounds’ importance and singularity is the main tool to boost awareness and, as a result, increase appreciation of the asset. Only if the local community values its heritage it will treat it with appropriate care and will be willing to support its long-term preservation.
The Dilmun Burial Mounds are not only among the earliest traces of the island’s long history, future generations will also benefit from their successful preservation. Besides having the potential to attract tourists interested in history and to boost cultural tourism, the burial mounds still possess secrets to uncover. Future researchers may contribute to provide a more complete picture of Bahrain and the wider Gulf region during the Bronze Age.
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New Approaches to the Celtic Urbanisation Process
UMR 8546 ‘AOROC, Celtes et Etrusques’ and UMR 7041
‘ArScAn, Archéologies Environnementales’, University of
Paris 1, <[email protected]>.
During the last four centuries BC, non-Mediterranean Europe undergoes deep economic and social transformations exemplified by the appearance of large agglomerations that already had urban characteristics is one of the most important landmarks. The development of such urbanisation process in this area, beginning four centuries before the Roman conquest, has raised questions to protohistorian archaeologists for a long period of time.
A better understanding of this phenomenon requires two main revaluations. The first is to reconsider the extent of agglomeration diversity, not in the light of morphological (open vs fortified settlements) but in a functional sense. Secondly, the urbanisation process needs to be perceived not only through the agglomerations themselves, but as a long-term territorial phenomenon, which affects the entire range of settlements. Rhythms of creation, networks and functions of those sites have to be studied in aim to follow the development of the urbanisation in Central and Western
Europe. It will also highlight the close ties of this process with the emergence of the first state structures in this area.
Over a relatively short period between the end of the 4th and the middle of the 1st century BC, an unprecedented phenomenon of complexification of modality of habitation developed in non-Mediterranean Europe. This was the emergence of large agglomerations with had urban characteristics. The fact that we no longer consider those sites as pale copies of their Mediterranean neighbours, but as part of an urbanisation process characteristic to the Celtic society, is a recent achievement of sharp debates between researchers in the protohistorical domain.
The urban character of these agglomerations, suggested by processualist researchers (Collis 1984) and contested then by postprocessualists (Woolf 1993), is now well accepted. Since the publication of Fichtl (2000), most protohistorical archaeologists finally accept that these agglomerations are cities, in the full sense of the term. A similar reversal occurred simultaneously for the categorisation of the first Iron Age Princely centres. The current view is now to consider that, after the fall of those centres, some agglomerations became cities by at least at the end of the 2nd century BC. However, now the tendency seems to go further, by applying the term of ‘city’ to older and older agglomerations, in particular to the open settlements of the 3rd century BC (e.g.
This ambiguity results from negligence for the definition of the concept of city. The aim of this paper is to develop an original and more rigorous overview of this urbanisation process.
Starting from a general definition of the city, based on functional rather than morphological criteria, archaeological evidence is used to measure the density, diversity and the centrality of those agglomerations. These three notions will allow for better differentiation of the sites and deliver a new perspective on greater diversity of Celtic agglomerations, which cannot be simply divided between open and fortified sites. These processes will also be examined in the broader context of long-term transformation of a territory. This approach will bring new opportunities for studies, particularly analysis of the evolution of social networks of sites in relation to the appearance of the city and the state.
Current view of the research: Emergence of the urban phenomenon in the Transalpine Celtic
Within the Celtic-speaking area (Figure 1), defined through assessment of toponymy and texts (Cunliffe 2006:34), archaeological research shows a variety of different cultural forms. This article focuses on urbanisation processes in the transalpine Celtic world, which affected a large region from the
Atlantic coast of present day France to Slovakia (Figure 1). By consequence, it excludes the Iberian Celtic world and the south of Gaul, where the phenomenon seems to have started earlier
(Cunliffe 2006:145-157; Garcia 2004:5), and the British Islands, which are affected later (Cunliffe 2006:183-186).
Although inhabited by many peoples, each with their own authority, this vast continental region shared not only important aspects of material culture and artistic expression, but also an almost similar response to the upheavals of the last few centuries
BC (Moscati et al. 1991:51). From the end of the 4th century
BC, archaeologists highlight that strong population growth, seen in the multiplication of sites and colonisation of plateaus, was accompanied by an unprecedented economic boom, greatly increasing both agricultural and artisanal production (Malrain et al. 2002). At that time new products (iron tools, wheel-made pottery etc.), mass-produced and more complex technically, circulated widely across Europe and sometimes well beyond the
Celtic territories (Brun and Ruby 2008:112-131). The settlements were still scattered over the countryside, but the territories were becoming structured. This was particularly due to the apparition of a dense network of farms, which were increasingly organised by hierarchy (Malrain et al. 2002; Cony 2011; Menez 2008:431-
This context formed the ideal setting for the development of the urban phenomenon. The 3rd and 2nd century BC saw a
Figure 1: Transalpine Celtic world (created by author)
Clara Filet, New Approaches to the Celtic Urbanisation Process | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
gradual concentration of habitations, with the appearance of agglomerations, that could stretch over 7-15 ha on average, and much further in some instances (eg. Lovosice measuring approx.
60 ha; Augstein 2006:207). The agglomerations were often characterised by their proximity to major communication routes and the importance of commercial and craft activities that were undertaken in the settlements.
During the second half of the 2nd century BC, large sites gradually developed (e.g. Bibracte – 200 ha, Manching – 380 ha), alongside, or in place of, these first agglomerations (Fichtl
2000:141). They were usually fortified and in modern literature are often referred to as oppida. This stems from Caesar’s usage of this word in his ‘De Bello Gallico’. The major point of difference between these new sites and the old sites is the presence of a strong political power capable of anchoring and gathering a large population around a common task, such as the construction of a monumental fortification. Indications of contact between those sites highlight their organisation into networks. Evidence for these contacts was initially noted by Déchelette (1908-
1914) through the diffusion of similar artefacts from known settlements. Thus, at least in the western part of the transalpine
Celtic world, these sites are structured in a well understood political and territorial entity, referred to as ‘civitates’ by Julius
Caesar (Caesar ‘De Bello Gallico; Fichtl 2012). Civitates were the first archaic states in this area.
However, this episode of centralisation (Figure 2) was shortlived. The eastern area, of the transalpine world, underwent a crisis in 80-70 BC leading to the disappearance of most of the agglomerations. The origins of this event are difficult to determine (Salač 2012:338), but could have been related to untenable economic strategies under population growth
(Danielisová et al. 2013:236). In the Western Celtic world, the
Roman conquest in the 50s BC and the reorganization of Gaul by the emperor Augustus brought a fatal blow to the major Celtic cities (Ouzoulias and Tranoy 2010).
cannot yet be described as fully urbanised (e.g. in Sievers and
Schönfelder 2012). This ambiguity is mainly due to negligence in the definition of the city, which is nevertheless an essential phase of urbanisation’s studies.
Celtic agglomerations: Another model of urbanism?
To consider the Celtic agglomerations as cities is to face a major obstacle: their planning does not correspond to what has been considered a city. The buildings in these agglomerations were made of earth and wood. Due to this, for several decades researchers did not accept that these sites could, in fact, have had monumental architecture. The scarcity of their planning left large, empty areas. In some cases it has been argued that these spaces were used for farming, as shown at the site of Manching (Maier et al. 1992) and Staré Hradisko (Danielisová and Hajnalová
2014). The basic housing unit did not consist of densely packed buildings, but rather of dwellings standing alone or organised in groups of households. It also included storage structures and annexes for craft production that were dispersed in an enclosed courtyard (Figure 3). By consequence, it can be assumed that these units served both as dwellings and as workplaces.
This image takes us far from our way of imagining the urban centres inherited from Greeks and Romans. The diversity of forms of urban centres across the world, however, disproves the idea of the existence of a unique model of the city. A lot of studies on urbanisation renounced to define the city, i.e. what their research was all about (Damgaard Andersen et al. 1997).
However, this diversity of urban sites should not prevent the construction of a general definition of the city. The forms of the city are multiple, but its nature, i.e. urban function, is not.
Celtic agglomerations and urbanisation: An abuse of language?
These large agglomerations have been studied since the late
19th century and the question of their place in the European urbanisation process has been the subject of debate for a long time (Kaenel 2006:22-23). The terms of ‘city’, ‘town’, ‘ville’ or
‘Stadt’ have been constrained, relativised and even left out to qualify those settlements (e.g. Woolf 1993). This is especially so in French and Germany literature, where the term ’proto-urban‘ has been used to describe them, suggesting that these centres
Figure 3: Examples of Celtic urbanism, some enclosures from Villeneuvest-Germain, France (created by author, adapted from Ruby and Auxiette
Defining the city
Addressing these problems, the definition of the city has to be based not on morphological, but on functional criteria. Unlike definitions based only on the presence of remarkable buildings
(such as shrine, palace or market) and a certain view of how a city should be organised (e.g. in Fichtl 2013), Brun and Ruby
(2008:70) define a city as follows:
Figure 2: Distribution of the most well-known Celtic agglomerations in relation to main communication roads (created by author)
Original research paper
A city is defined as a permanent agglomeration of various populations and activities, aimed at promoting the local and regional development of social relations.
At the local level, such a site promotes proximity in terms of policy control, economic efficiency, cultural contact and social reproduction by allowing so-called
“agglomeration” economies. At the regional level and beyond, a city promotes a situation in a network, i.e. a relative position in a complex hierarchy of productive, social, territorial functions, so both utility and in mental representations.
The definition of the city given by Brun and Ruby (2008:70) follows the work of geographers (as Lussault 2003:144), by pointing out three notions as basis of the city: density, diversity
(of people, of activities etc.), and centrality. This definition, based on the functional characteristics of the city, is deliberately broad.
It renounces the consideration of a city as a set of criteria that have to be ‘ticked’ or ‘crossed out’ on a list. It is not by the presence of a rampart, public buildings, a temple etc. that the city is defined, nor does a larger number of features from an arbitrary list bring a given site ‘closer’ to being a city. This definition, thus, breaks with the ultimate criterion tradition that attempts to create the differentiation between a large village and a city.
and to facilitate comparisons led to the adoption of only a very small number of criteria, taken usually from among the most immediately visible features. The clearest criterion, much easier to grasp than the size of the town or the wealth of its inhabitants, was the presence of a rampart. It has been argued that the presence of a rampart indicates a special status of the settlement
(Kaenel 2006:28) and allows researchers to distinguish sites without the need for thorough excavations. The rampart was a particularly useful benchmark for the development of spatial analysis of territory (e.g. Féliu 2008). However, it is illusory to deduce information about the urbanisation process solely from this classification on the basis of the most visible features.
Currently, the most frequently used classification of agglomeration differentiates between open and fortified sites, the latter being called oppida (Féliu 2008:96). This Latin term is easy to use and researchers tend to justify its use by the designation given to certain sites by Caesar, who in ‘De Bello
Gallico’ distinguished between oppidum, vicus and aedificia (e.g.
Caesar, De Bello Gallico, I: 5, 2). These terms, oppidum, fortified site, and vicus, open site, are often translated respectively as ‘city’ and ‘village’. The term aedificia does not refer to agglomerated sites and therefore has tended to not be utilised in the study of urbanisation.
Furthermore, this definition is applicable to all types of urban sites throughout the world, unlike the definitions based on morphological criteria. In order to utilise the functional definition in the archaeological analysis of unevenly preserved urban sites, it is necessary to examine the corpus available in the light of this definition. This questioning has to be done in conjunction with a number of indicators dependent on the agglomeration and culture studied, as well as the type of information and sources available. Additionally, the city is not an entirely unique and hermetic category. There are different degrees of urbanity; there is not a binary opposition between the city and non-city. A city never exists alone. Its own urban character is not a fundamental feature of a site, but is inferred from the relationships, attractiveness and polarisation of spaces that surround it. A city relies on a hinterland, and is most often connected with other cities in what is called ‘an urban network’.
These types of sites are subject of separate analyses and syntheses
(e.g. Fichtl 2000, 2012 for fortified sites, Augstein 2006 for open sites). The problem, however, is that from a morphological difference (the presence or absence of a rampart), two categories of sites were deduced, referring to functional (power centre for the oppida, trading centre for open sites), chronological (open sites precede the oppida) and hierarchical (village and city) distinctions. However, this is a methodological bias. The model of
Manching (Germany; Sievers 2003) demonstrates that a site does not change its nature once it acquires a rampart. This distinction works as a practical tool for the archaeologist; although, other criteria must be taken into account when studying the diversity of Celtic agglomerations.
A functional typology of settlements
Understanding the urban phenomenon: The utility of functional information
Usual classification: One single morphological criterion
Accordingly, this study focuses on developing a new typology, based on morphological and functional information (Filet
2013:61-70) with the aim to observe the diversity of these sites.
Particularly the diversity of the sites across time will help to develop an understanding of the genesis, evolution, and regional specificities of these agglomerations.
The persistent ambiguity on when to apply the term ’city‘ to a site results from two general problems in archaeology: first, that archaeological evidence is subject to bias during the research process, depending on its state of preservation and visibility and also on the fact that excavation usually researches only a sample of a site. And second, archaeological data only correspond to the result of an action but not to the action itself. In fact, any archaeological study operates on consequences. We do not have access to the processes leading to these consequences, so all the work of the archaeologist is to interpret the implications in order to understand the processes themselves. However, the risk is to assume that the most visible consequences, i.e. the most visible archaeological remains, are the most important elements of the process in question.
Research on Celtic agglomerations has suffered from this amalgam for a long time. The need to quickly develop classifications and typologies in order to make the data more easily understandable
As defined by Brun and Ruby (2008:70), the notion of ‘city’ is based on three criteria: density, diversity and centrality. Those three criteria are applied to build a typology from a restricted corpus of sites.
An estimation of population is problematic in Celtic settlement studies. Reliable demographic data, based on studies of settlements or necropolises, do not exist for the majority of sites.
Therefore, the notion of density is only used here for the corpus definition, as all sites in this study are agglomerations. Density is implied in the rural vs urban distinction.
Diversity was interpreted through the occurrence and combination of three main features; economy, political cohesion
Clara Filet, New Approaches to the Celtic Urbanisation Process | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
and religious function. The economic status of each settlement is defined through both agricultural production (which is present at every site, including vast and fortified sites; Danielisová and
Hajnalová 2014) and craft production. The political stature of each site is interpreted though the existence of a coercive power, or at least of a collective structure and organisation of the community. Evidence of such collective structure can be found in the preplanning of a settlement (Filet 2012), monumental architecture, the edification of a rampart, coins production or the existence of public places, in particular gathering areas.
Finally, religious function is addressed; primarily identified by the presence of a shrine. However, the imbrication of politics and religion is a feature of ancient societies; and the Celtic society is no exception. It is, therefore, difficult to disentangle the political and religious stature of a site, as features of a settlement can belong to either category.
The presence of only some of those functions is, however, not enough to qualify the functional diversity of a settlement. One or the other function will be found at many settlements. The crucial factor is the intensity of the presence of those characteristics.
I therefore suggest that the more different functions, the more places associated with these functions, and the more archaeological evidence for these functions is observed, the more we can consider that functional diversity is significant.
For example, when the agricultural and craft production is considerable, but is not associated with significant evidence for a political function, functional diversity would be low. When however craft production is low, agricultural production is presumed to be sizable, and there are some clues for the presence of a political function, I define a medium functional diversity.
The category of large functional diversity is finally used to define sites where craft and agricultural production is considerable, and which possess numerous evidence for the presence of a political power. The diversity of status and wealth of residents was not taken into account in this study, as evidence for the presence of an elite can be found in all the sites studied.
• no importations or only raw materials imported
• craft production highly distributed
• coins from supra-regional sources
• diversified importations, diversified sources
• craft production highly distributed
• coins from supra-regional sources
• diversified importations, diversified sources
• craft production highly distributed
• coins from inter-cultural sources
Importations were classified by two elements; diversity of imported objects and diversity of the sources of the objects.
Unfortunately, not enough studies about circulation of goods inside the transalpine Celtic world have been carried out
(except e.g. Pierrevelcin 2010). Therefore only goods from the
Mediterranean, German and Baltic worlds were considered in this study. Additionally, amphorae and campanian wares were excluded, as they are present in almost all the agglomerations taken into account in this study. The geographical location of each site was also considered. As, for example, sites situated next to the Germanic boarder had better access to Germanic goods, the presence of Germanic goods would therefore not assist in the question of centrality.
Craft production diffusion was studied through two lines of evidence. First, is craft production one of the main functions of a settlement? (e.g., half of the pottery ovens in Bohemia were found in Lovosice, and they were not solely intended for the inhabitants’ use; Salač 2012:324), and second, does the site possessed highly specialised craft facilities (e.g. a goldsmiths)?
Coin diffusion was defined as the distance from the sources of monetary types: local to regional, supra-regional and intercultural radiation.
The notion of centrality concerns the insertion of the sites in a network of contacts and interaction between settlements.
The different sizes of these networks, defied by the differences in the attractiveness and redistribution strength of the site, will distinguish between agglomerations. These differences are highlighted by three forms of evidence: importations, craft production and coins diffusion.
Using these three criteria, six categories of centrality were defined:
• no importations or only raw materials imported
• craft production poorly distributed
• coins from local to regional sources
• diversified importations, one source
• craft production poorly distributed
• coins from local to regional sources
• no importations or only raw materials imported
• craft production highly distributed
• coins from local to regional sources
An ideal-typology of agglomerations
Diversity and centrality were then used in order to find similarities inside a corpus of twenty-seven well-studied agglomerations and develop an ideal-typology (to use Max Weber’s term; Coenen-
In view of a complex situation, involving a multitude of factors, the ideal-type acts as a simplification thereof, reduced to the features that seem most essential to the researcher. This stylised
(or ‘ideal’) version of reality has no descriptive value, but allows making complex phenomena comprehensible. It is not a transcription of reality, but a mental construction, a tool with only logical value (Coenen-Huther 2003:532). The aim here is not to create a definitive and fixed typology of Celtic agglomeration.
The ideal-types – in our case, ideal-types of agglomeration – are considered to be tools of intelligibility, which help to understand the process of urbanisation. I do not claim to provide a fixed image of the diversity of grouped settlements. I intend instead to obtain a new vision of this diversity, and to see how it was set up across time and space.
The analysis of functional diversity and centrality of agglomerations depends on the degree of knowledge available on each site. Twenty-seven settlements were analysed for this study
(from more than 200 counted in the transalpine Celtic world;
Filet 2013). These were chosen as they have been extensively
Original research paper
Figure 4: Ideal-typology of Celtic agglomerations (created by author)
studied and published. Another important limitation of my method comes with the fact that I consider each site as a single chronological point, not as an object evolving in time. However, the data on the periodisation of functions and interactions in each site are not yet large enough to take into account this temporal factor. The data which my research is based on are probably linked to the moment where the site interacted the most with the others. This is the reason why I indicated the climax period on my chart (Figure 5).
For all these reasons, I cannot claim to be able to extend this frame to the study of all known Celtic settlements, as a definitive and fixed image of the Celtic agglomerations diversity in Europe.
Once again, I consider this framework as an ideal-typology, which will evolve with future excavations on new sites.
Starting from measurements of the functional diversity and the centrality of the 27 sites, six different ideal-types were observed and divided into three groups (Figure 4).
• Group A, formed by ideal agglomeration types 3 and 6, differentiates itself by medium functional diversity and low centrality. Those two types are however distributed in time in two distinct waves of sites creation (Figure 5) and are contemporaneous at the beginning of the 1st century
BC. This is the reason why, although these two types have some similar characteristics, they do not belong to the same process.
• Group B, formed by the ideal-types 1 and 2, differentiates itself by low functional diversity and medium centrality.
Contrary to group A, we can perceive continuous developments of sites from type 1 to 2. Since the distinction between these two types is related to the passage from
Centrality C3 to C4, we can assume that the evolution from type 1 to 2 is linked to the intensification of exchange and monetisation of economy during the 2nd century BC.
• Group C, formed by ideal-types 4 and 5, differentiates itself by high functional diversity and high centrality. Archaeology and texts show that those agglomerations were often capitals of their civitates (as Nanterre, Villeneuve-st-Germain,
Bibracte, Titelberg, and probably Corent and Orléans) or the main agglomeration of their region (Manching,
Altenburg-Rheinau and Stradonice), especially in presentday Germany and the Czech Republic, where there is no evidence of the existence of such archaic states (Fichtl
2012:109). The difference between types 4 and 5 results from a distinction of centrality (C5 and C6). Since the sites are contemporaneous, this difference can probably be linked to the location of the sites from important communication roads and the influence of their civitas. The sites of the type 6 belong to the most powerful civitates, those that are we know the best from literary sources, such as Arverni (Corent),
Aedui (Bibracte), and Carnutes (Orleans) (Fichtl 2012).
There are a few particularities in the body of sites. First of all, we can immediately notice the special status of two Czech agglomerations: Staré Hradisko and České Lhotice. It is not yet possible to determine if these differences in centrality are linked to the singularities of money use in Bohemia, where there is no production of low value coins, contrary to their high circulation in Western Europe (Pierrevelcin 2008:104) or rather to the effective differences between East and West in the functioning of agglomerations. Some agglomerations taken into account cannot be classified. As the table (Figure 4) shows, the site of Němčice
(also located in Bohemia) could be either an intermediary type between types 2 and 6 or a new one. It might be related to the
Austrian site of Roseldorf, which seems to possess some of the same characteristics (Salač 2012:328). For now, we do not have sufficient data to compare the centrality and functional diversity of these two sites. Finally, Roanne (France) stands apart due to the very high centrality compared to its functional diversity.
This particularity could perhaps be explained by its early commercial role – notably it served as a transshipment station between the rivers of the Rhône/Saône axis and the Loire River.
The agglomeration of Chalon-sur-Saône could have played the same role for the river Saône. For now, both of these assumptions remain hypothetical.
This typology highlights that the functions and the centrality of the Celtic agglomerations are relevant for the task of distinguishing between them in a more helpful way, much more constructive than the former examination of presence or absence of a fortification. Even though an important part of sites from types 4, 5 and 6 possessed a rampart, some of them were probably open settlements (e.g. Nanterre or Corent) and settlements from other types are found with a rampart. Furthermore, this typology allows us to expose a bigger part of the array of the settlements diversity and it brings many new prospects to the analysis of the
Celtic urbanisation process.
A new perspective about Celtic urbanisation process
Classically, the Celtic urbanisation process has been understood in a binary way, with the appearance of open settlements from the end of the 3rd century BC, replaced by fortified ones starting
100 years later. The site of Levroux (France) was considered as model, through the contemporary disappearance of the open settlement in the plains and the construction of a fortified one
Clara Filet, New Approaches to the Celtic Urbanisation Process | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Figure 5: Chronology of studied sites (created by author)
on the close hill (Kaenel 2006:28). From the 2000s onwards, some researchers started to nuance this model (Féliu 2008:206), arguing in particular with the archaeological evidence of a contemporary occupation phase between the open and fortified sites of Basel in Switzerland (Féliu 2008:206). To go further, not only the links between the types of settlements have to be reconsidered, but we have to rethink the whole diversity of settlements. The ideal-typology I tried to build is thus helpful to reassess the Celtic urbanisation process.
Gradually, during the 3rd century, we witness growth and amalgamation of some habitation nuclei, which will form first agglomerated settlements (type 1, Figure 4). In the present state of knowledge this seems to affect particularly the east of the
Celtic world, with a number of examples in the Czech Republic
(Lovosice) and Hungary (Sajopetri). The archaeological site of Aulnat (France) stands out as the most western, but was probably not the only one. From the outset, craft activities are well established in those sites which are also related to medium or long distance exchange networks.
Between the late 3rd and early 2nd century BC, these sites seem to grow in number. The increasing of production structures in each of them supports the perception of a certain intensification of craft production. New sites appeared (as Levroux in France,
Basel Gasfabrik in Switzerland etc.; type 2), but it seems that there was not a new wave of creation. There appears to have been a gradual evolution, during which the concentration of the habitat became more common and craft activities were strengthened.
Apparently, the population was ’learning agglomeration‘, which entailed the adaptation to a new way of life, based on new values and a new mentality. For example, the dead from each centre are buried outside of the agglomeration and no longer in small groups near the households.
A little bit later and towards the northwest, settlements of the
Celtic world underwent a parallel phenomenon of emergence of
a new type of sites (type 3). Contrary to the sites seen before,
Acy-Romance, Ymonville, Trégueux and Paule (all in France) were not major hubs in craft production and they seem to have played a rather minor role in the exchange networks. It appears, however, that these sites centralised agricultural production, in large barns as in Paule (Menez 2008) or in a considerable number of granaries and/or silos like in Acy-Romance, Trégueux and Ymonville (Lambot 1999; Allen et al. 2012; Inrap 2010).
Nevertheless, the particularity of those sites compared to the contemporary settlements is the very early organisation and rationalisation of the space: dense networks of ditches and fences (Ymonville, Trégueux), the organisation of households around rectangular squares (Acy-Romance), existence of closed public squares (Paule, Ymonville, Acy-Romance) or communal buildings (Trégueux) that gathered a small community. Some studies (Lambot 2005) suggest that these squares or buildings could accommodate a number of persons exceeding the population of the agglomeration itself. Everything indicates that these sites were seats of a landed power, based on land ownership and in control of its people and its resources. The long occupation length of these grouped settlements supports the idea that they were the focal points of local authority, sustainably maintained through gradual setting up of hierarchy of settlements and the emergence of Celtic civitates.
The major transition seems to occur during the second third of the 2nd century BC. At that time, the number of agglomerations increased considerably, they diversified and became more hierarchised than ever. New cities (from that moment they are called that), such as Corent, Orléans, Besançon or Nanterre, centralised and intensified all the functions seen before (types 4 and 5). They were very active in the production and circulation of goods, and they were seats of more powerful authorities (as demonstrated by texts, rampart edification, planed urbanism or coins production), whose range was higher than what existed before. Essentially, they possessed all the criteria that allow us to see these sites as true ‘centres’, and as real cities.
At the same time, the appearance of a series of secondary towns
(type 6) added a new level of hierarchy. They were probably used for the relay of authority or, the smallest ones, as seats thereof
(as Boviolles or Essey-lès-Nancy in France). Individually they seem to play an essentially regional role, even though they were certainly highly hierarchised. Their continued appearance until the middle of the 1st century BC means that they played an important role in the process of structuring the territory into networks.
The last visible change is the gradual strengthening and enrichment of the central sites, whose attractiveness, influence and authority became increasingly important (e.g. Bibracte,
Villeneuve-St-Germain or Stradonice). The construction of ramparts and deeper insertion into the networks of international trade should be seen as symptoms of strengthening of a central power. This hypothesis is supported by the fact that Caesar names each site of this group as capital of a civitas.
These processes were relatively homogeneous across the Celtic world at the beginning of the period taken into account. As highlighted by the typology, from the 2nd century however east and west parted their ways. The fate of the eastern cities is a special case that will be discussed in another publication.
Original research paper
Two movements of creation: from territories to networks, from networks to territories
By eliminating the reductive distinction between open and fortified sites, this brief overview highlights a much greater diversification, which is more in line with the complexity of
Celtic society itself. It also helps to underline the confrontation of two dynamics in the creation of these sites. The first one is an external process, with an intention to participate heavily in long-distance trade by being sites of production, distribution and export (Group B). Without neglecting their undeniable local role, we should note that this was the preferred type of function in the creation of these settlements. In contrast, the second dynamic is the internal stratification of the territory and progressive constitution of networks structuring it (Group A).
Naturally, these two movements are quite related. Large commercial sites played a role in the organisation of territories
(where they generally occupy the highest ranks in the hierarchy), while sites of the second category are part of these trade networks and spread their influence at a local level. This difference seems however symptomatic of two opposing movements within the urbanisation process: an upward movement that starts at the local level and gets involved in higher networks, and a downward movement that originates from the network organization and joins the territorial structuring. The confrontation between these two movements can be seen in the settlements of Group C.
The perspective this paper tried to develop shows that we are not dealing with a linear phenomenon in which the open agglomerations developed into cities. The urbanisation process rather took the shape of a gradual diversification of sites from the earliest agglomerations (type 3) into a range of new settlements, which had different functions and levels inside the sites networks.
Urbanisation as a process
The interplay of four main phenomena
The gradual diversification of sites shows that urbanisation must be seen as a process in development, that is to say as a series of transformations that lead or can lead to emergence of the city.
This notion has several implications. On the one hand, we have to bear in mind that urbanisation, as a process, begins before the appearance of the city itself, which is only its late aftermath. As a result, researchers have already paid attention to the ’open craft agglomerations‘ in particular, where economic dynamism and development of communal facilities can already be considered as urban features (Fichtl 2013; Salač 2012). The case of princely centres of the 6th and 5th centuries BC, called “the incompletely urbanised sites” or “atelo-urban sites” by Chaume and Brun
(2013) is also quite informative. An urbanisation process can exist without leading to the appearance of cities. On the other hand, it should be noted that this series of mutations does not only affect the agglomerations but also has consequences for all the types of settlements. The gradual diversification of the types of sites, accompanied by a functional and hierarchical redistribution, has consequences in the rhythms of creation for rural sites as well, and for the interactions between these sites.
All those modifications participate in the evolution of a territory over the long term. These observations highlight that four different phenomena were at play during the Celtic urbanisation.
The densification of settlements
The census directed by Malrain, Blancquaert and Lorho
(2013) of rural settlements in the northern half of France has provided accurate information on the rhythms of creation and abandonment of habitats between the 5th century BC and the
1st century AD. For the period in question (between the 4th and the 1st century BC), they show an initially slow and gradual densification of rural sites from 400 BC and an unprecedented acceleration from the second half of the 3rd century BC. Site density peaks around 150-100 BC, when the number of known rural sites is in some regions multiplied by five compared to the beginning of the sequence (Malrain et al. 2013:257). The comparison of these data with those from other parts of the
Celtic world is still to be done.
Organisation into a hierarchy
Starting from the 3rd century, we observe an increase of hierarchical disparities between settlements. Some of the sites gradually distanced themselves from the others through their size, their monumental architecture and the diversity and quality of their goods. These archaeological differences bring our attention to discrepancies of wealth and status of the given place and of its inhabitants, related to diversification of functions of these sites (for example as local authority seats). For some particularly monumental examples as the farm of Batilly-en-Gatinais (in the department of Loiret) or the complex of Paule (Côtes d’Armor), the researchers now tend to use the term “aristocratic farms”.
Many regional typologies are being established so as to classify the hierarchical levels of these farms (e.g. Malrain 2010:43;
Concentration of settlements
From the middle of the 3rd century, at the same time the large farming settlements characterised by considerable population concentration appeared, the expansion and the amalgamation of several settlement nuclei formed the first agglomerated sites.
From the first examples known in northern Gaul, such as Aulnat
(Puy de Dôme), to the large cities of the 1st century BC, these sites increase considerably in number, in surface and in intra-site density (Filet 2012).
Structuring the territory
This last phenomenon underlies the entire studied period. It may be visible since the end of the 4th century, with the development of constructed shrines (Fichtl et al. 2000). Shrines played an important role in “political and social cohesion” (as described by
Fichtl 2013:153) and in stabilising territories by uniting groups of people under their influence. The progressive stabilisation and ranking of habitat clusters further accentuate this hierarchically structuring, which leads to the formation of the first archaic states in Gaul, the Celtic civitates, whose the largest could stretch over more than 20,000km² (Brun in press). They were already well established when Caesar started his conquest in 58 BC. The boundaries of these autonomous political entities were widely adopted in the Roman reorganisation of Gaul (Ouzoulias et
These four phenomena are obviously interconnected. Their consequences were the basis of the gradual initiation of the city and the state. This is not to say that they affected all parts of the Celtic world to the same intensity or at the same pace.
For example the study of Malrain, Blancquaert and Lorho
(2013:225), which is based on comparisons of the number of rural settlements between each northern region of northern
France, pointed out time-lags and regional rhythms. The most
Clara Filet, New Approaches to the Celtic Urbanisation Process | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
important peaks of creation or abandonment of settlements were not always contemporary and settlement densification started earlier in some areas. The same interpretation could be deduced from the work of Pion (2007:37), who studied the territories of north-eastern France (“Belgic Gaul”). He analysed the federation process of composition of new civitates from small territorial entities (called “pagi”) to compose the new civitates. His work shows that at the moment of the conquest of Gaul, this process was not at the same stage in each area. Indeed the constitution of the state and the urbanisation were more advanced in the eastern civitates of Belgic Gaul than in the west.
Perspectives: Social networks of settlements
Following up on this work on urbanisation processes and territorial surveys, a more dynamic study of territories has to be pursued, in particular through the organisation of interactions between sites. As Metzler (1995) had already shown for the agglomeration of Titelberg (Luxemburg), large agglomerations concentrated a number of products before redistributing them, going thus above the local scale to intercultural and the other way round. Agricultural products and raw materials from farms were passed to the agglomeration through a number of relay sites. Then surpluses were sold on a larger scale. In the backward movement, imports and manufactured products passed through the agglomeration before being redistributed locally. In addition to these economic exchanges, the connections involved cultural influences, political control or diplomatic relations between states. All these connections consisted of more or less intense contacts between sites. As the functions of each of them were distributed, no site was self-sufficient, but it owed its continuing existence to a system. Studying this system, its implementation and its evolution will refine this overview and will allow seeing how the organisation of networks accompanied the four phenomena discussed above.
During the 4th century BC, the landscape was composed of more or less extensive networks of farms, whereas four centuries later at the time of Caesar’s invasion, territories seemed to be much more structured and to involve a variety of much larger settlements. These changes had implications for the evolution of networks that connect them, including a multiplication of types of relations on which they were based. The challenge lies in understanding how this intensification of contacts developed during those four centuries. Was it done gradually and locally, or immediately and on a supra-regional scale? Can we perceive collapse? What was the longevity of nodal points in the networks?
All of that new information will bring original arguments to consider the urbanisation as a set of dynamics inside a territory and no longer as a gradual evolution of one type of sites from open to fortified settlement.
Celtic urbanisation appears as a non-linear process. Open agglomerations did not evolve into cities. On the contrary, these processes manifest themselves first in an increasing diversification of the types of sites, especially agglomerations – their variety went far beyond the traditional distinction between open and fortified settlements. The appearance of this new diversity implies increasing hierarchical distinctions between settlements and redistribution of functions they played. These changes transformed significantly the way settlements interacted with each other and thus participated actively to long-term territory transformation dynamics. These major transformations were completely new in this area and they contributed to general complexification of Celtic society during the last four centuries of European protohistory.
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Original research paper
Yup’ik Eskimo Kayak Miniatures:
Preliminary notes on kayaks from the Nunalleq site
1 Master of Maritime Archaeology Student, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia,
There is currently no evidence of pre-historic Yup’ik kayaks or kayak models that have survived post-contact. This paper examines three kayak models recovered during archaeological excavations in a pre-contact Yup’ik Eskimo site in Quinhagak, Alaska in 2013.
The paper compares these representations of Nunalleq kayaks with other Yup’ik kayaks in the region and speculates about their use as elements of traditional knowledge transfer and teaching in Yup’ik culture.
Figure 1: Map of Alaska with Quinhagak indicated (City-Data 2011)
Quinhagak in southwest Alaska (Figure 1), United States, is a village of approximately 700 people (City-Data 2011), almost all of whom are Yup’ik-speaking Eskimos of the Bering Sea region. The rich prehistory of the area was little understood until recently, when excavations by Richard Knecht, University of
Aberdeen in Scotland, began to shed light on the prehistory of a
Yup’ik settlement located near the current village (Rick Knecht, personal communication, August 2013). This site became known as Nunalleq or ‘old village’ in Yup’ik (or Yupitt). A small sample of three kayak miniatures found during the 2013 field season is discussed in this paper. The different forms of kayaks and their importance as integral elements of subsistence practices for Yup’ik (and other) people are well documented in northern studies (Zimmerley 1986; Adney and Chapelle 1964). There is also information regarding traditional knowledge transfer about kayak use and construction being passed down from father to son (Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982; Rick Knecht, personal communication, August 2013) and it is speculated in the paper that this may have been one function of the pre-contact Nunalleq models found in 2013. It is hoped that a larger sample size from field seasons extending through to 2017, and oral history work commencing in 2014, will provide more information.
Yup’ik kayaks are known from the earliest ethnographic reports, but there are currently no surviving full-size Yup’ik kayaks from the pre-contact period. Early ethnographic collections and photographs from southwest Alaska by Edward Nelson (1899) and George Gordon (1917) are valuable sources of data about kayaks from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Ethnographic work from the mid-twentieth century by Margaret
Lantis (1946, 1960) and more recent work, notably by Ann
Fienup Riordan and David Zimmerley from the 1980s onward, provides information about the social and cultural meanings associated with kayaks. Kayaks were not only functional but were an important symbol for all Eskimos as well. Not only did the watercraft represent the ability to exploit the oceans for food and useful animal parts, trade, and exploration, it was also a hunter’s most prized possession and a symbol of manhood (Fitzhugh and
Kaplan 1982:60). In Eskimo culture, to be able to give food and other goods away to the less fortunate of your village also granted wealth, prestige, and access to women; this was brought about
by being a skilled kayaker and hunter, and having a good kayak was part of a man’s success (Zimmerly 1986:40). This sharing of consumable goods is still practised today in most villages in
Alaska (Warren Jones, personal communication, August 2013).
During the 2013 excavation season by University of Aberdeen archaeologists, three miniature kayaks were recovered which may provide broad information on the Yup’ik kayaks from
Nunalleq’s occupation. These miniatures are assumed to be representations of a local subtype of the Bering Sea kayak style.
This paper aims to compare the form of the Nunalleq miniatures with other regional Yup’ik kayak forms known from Nunivak
Island and Hooper Bay and the region along the south coastal portion of Norton Sound, (Figure 1). For the purposes of this paper, Nunivak and Hooper Bay have been categorised into one group, as the differences between the two subtypes are minimal, as noted by Zimmerly (1986:39).
Location of the Nunalleq site
Currently, the Central Yup’ik Region (Figure 2) has a population of over 23,000 Yup’ik Eskimos in over 60 villages (Fienup-
Riordan 2005:xiv; Marlow 2009:1). Transport and access to the majority of villages is limited to plane, boat, and snowmobile.
As can be seen in Figure 1, Quinhagak and the Nunalleq site are situated almost in the middle of the Central Yup’ik Region, along the coast of the Bering Sea.
The Nunalleq archaeological site is located on the coast of, about
3km from the present day village of Quinhagak (Figure 1). The site was occupied between 1350 AD and 1650 AD, before contact with Europeans (Knecht 2012:21). This occupation period ended abruptly when the village was attacked in what is known as the
Bow and Arrow War (Knecht 2012:23). During the Bow and
Arrow War, it is clear that the village was burned as evidenced by the stratigraphic layers of charcoal and burned orange clay levels representing collapsed roofing sods. The site, in its entirety, is under serious threat from coastal erosion and could easily slide into the sea with a single major storm (Rick Knecht, personal communication, August 2013). Fortunately, the preservation of artefacts is aided by permafrost. Although permafrost is extremely inconvenient for excavating it does help to greatly preserve
Original research paper
Figure 2: Alaskan map divided into Eskimo regions (after Marlow 2009:1)
artefacts. As a consequence of global warming, permafrost is thawing earlier and freezing later in the year. This winter, for instance, there has been little snow in Alaska and the soil of the
Nunalleq site has not been fully frozen in the uppermost levels
(Warren Jones, personal communication, January 2014). This means that due to changing environmental conditions, which have negative impact on the site, recovering the artefacts and information from the Nunalleq site is imperative to contribute to our understanding of pre-contact Yup’ik Eskimo culture.
Yup’ik Eskimo culture and subsistence
Pre-contact knowledge transfer and learning among Yup’ik people traditionally was through oral culture, with no written history or transcribed language. Children were taught about subsistence practices, culture and social systems through stories, toys, legends, and examples of behaviour. Boyd and Richerson
(2005:24-26) have persuasively written about the collective knowledge shared with each child through social learning, which forms an accumulated pool of information over numerous generations. The accumulation of generational learning produces a body of cultural knowledge that is highly adaptive, particularly about appropriate technologies for subsistence practices. This set of cultural intuitive resources allowed Yup’ik Eskimos, like other oral cultures, to adapt swiftly to changes in their local environment and teach each child about their social and cultural roles in village life.
Although coastal Yup’ik, like those of Nunalleq, were seasonally nomadic, the abundance of terrestrial plant and animal life, in addition to marine foods, allowed them to have a comparatively settled life in a fixed geographical area (Fienup-Riordan 2005:vx) compared to other hunter and gatherers who follow a more active seasonal year of subsistence activities. Certainly for the
Yup’ik, fish and marine mammals such as seal, small whale, and walrus were, and continue to be, a significant part of their diet
(Nash et al. 2013:161). Zagoskin, an early explorer in what was formerly Russian America, referred to salmon as the “bread of all coastal dwellers of the Eastern Ocean and Bering Sea” in the
Early Historic and Historic Eras (Knudson et al 2003:445).
Eskimo kayak use
Sea mammal hunting and fishing in the Bering Sea region took place from both kayaks and larger open boats called umiaks.
It is known that Eskimos of the Bering Sea region, particularly
Siberian Eskimos, used umiaks, a large open craft capable of carrying multiple people and cargo. Currently, no evidence
of umiaks has been discovered at the Nunalleq site. Kayaks or qayaq (in Yup’ik) (Kuntz 1998:19) were used by all Eskimos for hunting fish, large sea mammals, and sometimes land mammals.
Kayaks were fast and relatively easy to silently manoeuvre to get close to mammals that were then killed using a variety of means including darts (Boyd and Richerson 2005:57), harpoons, spears, clubs, and bolas for waterfowl. Kayaks were an adaptive solution to the environment because of their slim and efficient hull designs, which allowed for sustainable and fast paddling. There have been several accounts of European sailors on whaling ships who were shocked to realise that even under full sail, Eskimos in kayaks, riding the surf, were passing them (Kuntz 1998:18).
Kayaks were not only used in Alaska. Skin-covered kayaks were also used by Eskimos of Canada and Greenland as well as in northern Europe, Asia, and other parts of North America
(Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60). It is believed that Eskimo kayaks are the most evolved forms of kayak, with Bering Sea kayak designs being the most complex and sophisticated (Fitzhugh and
Kaplan 1982:60). Where Eskimo kayaks originated is unknown but they could have developed, more than ten thousand years ago, along the southern rim of the Bering Land Bridge, where people were learning to hunt large sea mammals in freezing waters (Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60). Their lightweight, strong, and seaworthy capabilities were perfect for navigating over ice and through the rough and freezing northern waters. Kayak construction was taught to young men by older men through the generations. This might have been done at the outset through trial and error, by evaluating alternatives, judging whose boats were better constructed and more efficient, and exploring how to combine differences in design to develop the best kayak possible (Boyd and Richerson 2005:57). In the environment of shared learning in a group, there is also the possibility that a young person might think of an alternative that could better the construction. Boyd and Richerson (2005:54) note that adaptation results from information processing capacities wired into the brain by natural selection operating on genes and collective knowledge. Therefore, each generation of kayak builders had the possibility to make a more efficient and effective seagoing vessel. Nevertheless, only small modifications to overall design and structure could be anticipated because individuals were not exposed to vastly different watercraft designs in the pre-contact period.
The functional needs, design, and construction parameters of a kayak were clear. The driftwood frame made it lightweight so that a single male hunter could haul it over land and ice.
Driftwood had to be used as the Bering Sea region is located above the tree line, i.e. the region is too far north for the growth of forests, meaning that all wood used in the prehistoric period was driftwood collected on shore. The seal skin covering was tough, did not add much to the weight, and meant that the hull could not be torn by newly formed, sharp ice, and would not freeze. Finally, with a paddler wearing a gutskin skirt parka, which was lashed to, and sealed, around the cockpit, the kayak was practically unsinkable (Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60).
Kayaks would have been used to hunt fish including salmon, halibut, tom cod, flounder, whitefish, blackfish, capelin, smelt, needlefish, and pike. Seal, walrus, beluga whale, moose, caribou, bear, fox, otter, Arctic hare, muskrat, beaver, and waterfowl were also hunted from kayaks (Fienup-Riordan 2005:xv; Zimmerly
1986:43). The hunting of land mammals was initiated from the water and finished by using the kayak to make landfall near the water’s edge to collect the kill.
Celeste Jordan, Yup’ik Eskimo Kayak Miniatures | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
The construction of a kayak was a deeply important rite of passage for men and was steeped in ritual. A man started kayak construction by recycling parts of his previous kayak and adding new pieces of driftwood, sometimes using naturally bent pieces of stumpwood saved specifically for this purpose (Fitzhugh and
Kaplan 1982:60). The measurements of each piece of the wooden frame were calculated using different parts or a combination of parts of the maker’s body – for example, the span of a hand. The frame was built up in pieces and fastened with pegs and lashings made of rawhide (Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60, 61; Zimmerly
1986:40). The hunter’s wife provided the sewn bearded seal skin that was used to cover the frame (Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60,
61). Zimmerly (1986:40) suggests that the kayak required three sealskins for the hull and two sealskins for the decks. The provision of the sealskin cover by the hunter’s wife reflects the fundamental separation in Yup’ik culture of the types of tasks, spaces, and roles that men and women played in society (Frink
2006:111). On Nunivak Island, women could enter the men’s house to aid in the construction of kayak using skins but there were restrictions on both sex’s behaviour while in the same space.
It is also very likely that men also knew how to sew the skins and took part in kayak sewing and repair (Frink 2009:22).
The final touches made to a kayak were in the form of carvings, paintings, and symbology. The kayak would be given mythological markings and symbols for luck, for protection, as thanks to the hunted animals, and for hunter identification.
The bow or stern shape could be modified and symbols would be painted on the hunter’s paddles to further communicate cultural ideals (Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60, 61). Protection from dangerous sea spirits came in the form of inogo or charm iconography painted on the inside of the kayak by a shaman, and possibly the dried head of a loon or carving of a sea creature that the hunter had been threatened by previously (Fitzhugh and
Kaplan 1982:60, 61). Finally, two carved faces, one of a frowning female and another of a smiling male, would be secured on the underside of the cockpit rim, on either side of the hunter’s seat.
These spirit helpers were found on all kayaks in the Yukon-
Kuskokwim region (the geographical region where Quinhagak and the Nunalleq site are situated) and would keep the hunter husband connected to his wife (Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60,
61). The hunter may also have face charms on the handles of his paddle along with personal markings and sexual iconography
(Fitzhugh and Kaplan 1982:60, 61). Each kayak would have had different markings, and so too did each local community’s kayak design differ from those of other villages and/or regions.
Yup’ik kayak design elements
The only known examples of the Nunalleq kayak subtype are the miniatures excavated in 2012 and 2013; three examples from
2013 are examined here. Presented in this paper is a cursory comparison based on visual inspection of the bow, stern, and hull form of the 2013 excavated examples. This information is compared to bow, stern, and hull form of ethnographic examples from Nunivak Island/Hooper Bay and South Norton Sound subtypes. It is assumed that these miniatures are not to any particular scale and cannot be used for a definitive comparison.
An answer to further questions is likely to only be possible when full size examples are excavated and measurements can be obtained.
Bering Sea kayak designs were found from Bristol Bay to Norton
Sound (Zimmerly 1986:39), the major region in which the old
Nunalleq village was situated (Figure 2). Although the need for kayaks was critical to subsistence hunting, their design differed from region to region and from community to community.
Bering Sea kayaks had broad and deep hulls with a flattened but not fully flat bottom and rounded bilges (Zimmerly 1986:41).
This flattened bottom can be clearly seen in the excavated miniatures - Kayaks One, Two, and Three (Figures 4, 6, and 8).
The broad and deep hull is represented in all the Nunalleq kayak miniatures (Figures 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8). The wide cockpits in Yup’ik kayaks were mainly for the storage of game, but also allowed for two people to sit back to back, which allowed for a ‘tail gunner’ during a war raid on a neighbouring village (Zimmerly 1986:41).
This wide kayak cockpit form appears to be the case for Kayaks
One, Two and Three (Figures 3, 6, and 7).
Turning our attention to the bow of the miniatures, these examples make drawing conclusions difficult. There is some suggestion that the Nunivak Island kayak bow design tapered to a point, then flared out again to a smaller point and that this might have been for towing or tethering the kayak (Kuntz 1998:64).
Zimmerly makes no mention of this design feature for Nunivak
Island (Figure 9), Hooper Bay, or Norton Sound kayaks (Figure
10). There is loose evidence of this bow design with Kayak One
(Figure 3) but it is not a very convincing example if this is, in fact, what it represents. The stern of Kayak One (Figure 3) might be a better example of this design feature, but again, it is not fully convincing.
There is certainly a similarity in the bow design of Nunivak/
Hooper Bay kayaks and the miniatures from Nunalleq, but there appears to be a difference between the miniatures and the
Norton Sound kayaks. As can be seen with all three miniature kayaks from the Nunalleq site (Figures 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8) and the kayak from Nunivak (Figure 9), the bow narrows to a point both upwardly and forward. The Nunivak kayak frame (Figure 9) and
Kayak One (Figure 5) both show one and two holes, respectively, in the bow. Conversely, the bow of the Norton Sound kayaks
(Figure 10) flattens on top and ends with an incomplete hole at the top of the sphere, pincer-like and almost like a crab claw.
The stern of the Norton Sound kayak (Figure 10) echoes that of the Nunivak kayak (Figure 9), but these stern designs differ from the Nunalleq miniatures. The stern of the Norton Sound kayaks has an obvious tapering along the port and starboard sides and this can be seen on all kayaks in all figures. There is, however, a notch on the stern’s topside, which appears flush with the end of the kayak (Figure 10). This notch is more pronounced on both the Nunivak kayaks (Figure 9) and, as mentioned before,
Zimmerly (1982:41) suggests that this is a representation of an animal tail and this notch or tail on the Nunivak kayaks plainly continues beyond the main end of the kayaks. There is no mention of whether the notch or tail has any structural purpose other than representational. None of the miniatures from the
Nunalleq site (Figures 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8) show this notch in any form. In fact, Kayak One’s stern (Figure 4) actually slants back toward the bow rather than being a continuation of the vessel.
Kayak Two (Figure 5) and Kayak Three (Figure 8) all show the stern ending in a considerable point. Kayak Three’s stern looks to be broken, but this may just be damage from being in the ground for centuries and not a deliberate feature or ending.
These miniatures do not definitively indicate that the Nunalleq kayaks did not have the notched or tailed stern. It is also important to remember that all Nunalleq kayak miniatures were fairly simply made, without the fine detail known from examples
Original research paper
collected after contact. Miniatures known from Nunivak and
Norton Sound, on the other hand, were made after contact and using metal tools. In the absence of any metal at the Nunalleq site, it is assumed these miniatures were made using traditional methods and stone and animal tooth carving tools.
Kayaks One and Two (Figures 3, 4, and 6), visually, look more similar to each other than Kayak Three (Figures 7 and 8). Kayak
One is narrower (as seen in Table 1), and both Kayak One and Two are made of a darker wood, and have flatter bottoms than Kayak Three. Kayak Two (Figures 6) is the only miniature without a wooden peg (thought to represent the hunter or be the place where a more elaborate miniature hunter might be place on top) in the cockpit. This does not mean that it did not exist.
Kayak Two was found in the processing screen rather that in situ so a peg could have snapped off. Kayak Two is also the smallest of the miniatures and the peg may not have existed to begin with.
It could be difficult to carve out, or place, a small peg in a 6.5cm kayak cockpit (Figures 6) rather than a 11cm-24.5cm kayak miniature (Figures 3 and 7).
Information could not be obtained
Fitzhugh and Kaplan (1982:64) suggest that the variations of
Table 1: Approximate measurements of miniatures
whether the hole in the bow may be the opening through which the sea mammal can slip, to give himself symbolically to the hunter. The symbolic passage between underwater space and time and the world above, the hole in the creator’s hand, and the hole in sea ice used for winter hunting could all be represented in some symbolic manner by the hole in the bow.
Figure 3: Miniature Kayak One from Nunalleq site 2013 (photograph by
Figure 4: Close up of miniature Kayak One from Nunalleq site 2013
(photograph by Rick Knecht)
kayak style, along with kayak decoration, identified local social groups or allowed recognition of the individuality of the hunter at a distance. Norton Sound and Yukon River kayaks were narrower and lighter because they were used in less turbulent waters rather than those that were used in the open ocean around Nunivak
Island and Hooper Bay. Fitzhugh and Kaplan (1982:64) further make mention that the farther south one travelled from Nunivak
Island, the shallower kayaks became, as well as longer and narrower. This may explain the Nunalleq miniatures’ structural differences compared to the Nunivak/Hooper Bay, and Norton
Figure 5: Close up of bow of Kayak One from Nunalleq site 2013
(photograph by author)
Elements of bow design
Two holes appear in Kayak One’s bow (Figure 5) but they do not go all the way through. There is no definitive reference on what bow designs represent in kayak construction. Zimmerly
(1986:41) notes that the bow and stern shapes may represent the head and tail of the hunter’s helper spirit, based on Figure 8. The hole within an otherwise solid shape is also a consistent theme in
Eskimo mythology and cosmology (Fienup-Riordan 1988:266).
Animals fell to Earth, to be of use to man, through a hole in the Creator’s hand, symbolised by the pierced thumbless hand
(Fienup-Riordan 1988:266). Another interpretation of the open hole put forward by Fitzhugh and Kaplan (1982:109) is that the perforated hand belongs to a compassionate spirit who allows some hunted sea mammals to slip through the hole and return safely to their underwater homes. In reading these sources, one can think of other possible interpretations. During August 2014, oral history interviews with elders will take place and will explore the symbolic elements of Nunalleq kayak design including the hole in the bow. One possible explanation to be explored is
Figure 6: Miniature Kayak Two from Nunalleq site 2013 (photograph by
Figure 7: Miniature Kayak Three from Nunalleq site 2013 (photograph by
Celeste Jordan, Yup’ik Eskimo Kayak Miniatures | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
A good indication that these miniatures are a close representation of Yup’ik kayaks is the miniature kayak paddle (Figure 11) recovered from the Nunalleq site. Zimmerly (1986:41) makes note of the Nunivak/Hooper Bay kayakers using a single bladed paddle, rather than a double bladed paddle. It is obvious from
Figure 11 and Zimmerly’s (1986:41) detailing of paddle form that both are similar. The kayaks could be paddled from a kneeling or standing position and a short paddle could be used to silently scull the kayak with one hand to within harpooning distance of a sea mammal. Miniature paddles can also been seen in association with the Norton Sound miniature (Figure 10). It has been noted that some Eskimo graves were marked by driftwood kayaks and paddles (Kuntz 1998:22).
Figure 11. Miniature kayak paddle from Nunalleq site 2013 (photograph by author)
Figure 8: Miniature Kayak Three from Nunalleq site 2013 (photograph by
as shown in photos and drawings from a variety of sources such as
Adney and Chapelle (1964), Zimmerly (1986) and Fitzhugh and
Kaplan (1982). An obvious difference between kayaks depicted in these sources and the Nunalleq archaeological specimens is seen in the form of the stern. It will require a larger sample size to determine whether the stern is a definitive aspect of the
Nunalleq subtype, and whether the sterns of these miniatures are an accurate representation of Nunalleq’s local design variation of
Yup’ik kayaks before contact.
Figure 9: Wooden kayak frame from Nunivak Island (Zimmerly 1986:42)
Figure 10: Kayak miniature from Norton Sound (Fitzhugh and Kaplan
Bering Sea kayaks, considered to be the most sophisticated in
Alaska, shared attributes with all kayaks. They were typically made of driftwood frames covered in seal skin, and were lightweight, strong, and seaworthy, perfect for navigating over ice and through the rough seas in northern regions, and for skilful hunting. Kayaks were not only important for survival and subsistence, but for the social roles of men in Yup’ik Eskimo society, and it is known that older men taught younger hunters and boys about kayak construction. In the absence of full size examples of pre-contact Yup’ik kayaks, the well-preserved miniature kayak models recovered at the Nunalleq site, close to Quinhagak in Alaska, offer opportunities for a preliminary comparison of regional subtypes. Based on the assumption that the Nunalleq miniatures are close representations of full-scale watercraft, they are compared to other ethnographic Yup’ik kayaks from Nunivak Island/Hooper Bay and Norton Sound subregions. The Nunalleq kayak miniatures are consistent with the Central Yup’ik kayak designs from the ethnographic period,
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Original research paper
The Contribution of Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük to Notions of Territory and Group
Mobility in Prehistoric Central Anatolia
Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, UMR7194,
Over the past 50 years, obsidian sourcing in Anatolia has become a well-established method of reconstructing source exploitation and raw material distribution for discussing social network systems of exchange at a large scale. Other raw materials of knapped stone have been ignored. Over the last 3 years, however, new PhD projects developed at Çatalhöyük (Konya Plain, Turkey) demonstrate the major contribution of chert knapped stone studies to the discussion of local territory and group mobility, and underline a complexity in raw materials procurement.
The typo-technology studies of knapped stone in Çatalhöyük West assemblages from the Early Chalcolithic (6000-5500 cal. BC) highlight a domestic production which includes both local bad quality flint and the exogenous good quality flint, which probably came from eastern Anatolia.
This paper reviews recent contributions of flint studies in Central
Anatolia and presents new field work data about chert sources.
Thus it proposes a synthesis of our knowledge on locally available chert resources in the region. Combining dynamic local geological patterns, geomorphological considerations and typo-technological studies, this paper proposes an overview of the chert raw material procurement in Central Anatolia through a case study of
Çatalhöyük West assemblages.
Over the last decade, studies of raw material have considerably enriched the understanding of the chaîne opératoire of knapped stone production. The mobility of people and products is informed by studies of raw material provenance. Through reconstructing the spectrum and diversity of raw materials exploited on a site, and understanding whether or how different materials were curated and recycled, it is possible to see the modalities of exploitation of territories, and whether management of territories and their resources existed (Binford
1979, 1980, 1982; Flébot-Augustin 1997; Geneste 1985). This allows discussion of the degree of mobility of the group, enriched by ethnographic studies (Binford 1980, 1982; Shott 1986). The diversity of raw materials and the distance from site to source indicate the nature of the procurement, whether it is oriented or opportunist (realised during activity other than lithic acquisition expeditions). The extent of local raw materials can also inform discussion on the expansion of the exploited territory by a wellestablished community, and it can contributte, along with faunal or botanical remains, to the documentation of the local territory exploited by the group for its subsistence.
“chert” hiding a much greater mineralogical diversity. Over the past 50 years, obsidian sourcing in this region, and in Anatolia in general, has become a well-established method of reconstructing source exploitation and raw material distribution for discussing social and economic networks of exchange. Time and energy have been dedicated to sourcing Çatalhöyük’s obsidian since the characterisation program led by Tristan Carter was created
(Carter et al. 2006b). The results from the past decade of obsidian chemical analyses demonstrate clear changes through time of the relative proportion of the southern Cappadocian sources of Göllü
Dağ and Nenezi Dağ, some 190km to the north-east of the site, found in the knapped stone at Çatalhöyük during the Neolithic
(Carter and Milić 2013; Carter et al. 2006b; Carter and Shackley
2007; Poupeau et al. 2010): “Göllü Dağ products are dominant during the Aceramic and early Pottery Neolithic, followed by a major shift to Nenezi Dağ obsidian in the later Pottery Neolithic
(i.e. post 6500 BC)” (Carter and Milić 2013:496).
Regarding the question of raw materials provenance, Cessford and Carter (2005) propose a scenario of obsidian procurement around seasonality of expeditions, quantity of obsidian transported, the number of people necessary for transportation, and quality of the road, using typo-technological studies and an evaluation of the quantity of obsidian consumption per year.
The authors note that although this kind of reconstitution is challenging and involves contested concepts, it does offer a global view, an indication of obsidian consumption and quantitative data for synchronic or diachronic comparison.
The study of Early Chalcolithic assemblages is recent (Carter et al. 2006, 2009; Ostaptchouk 2011, 2012; Raszick 2001, 2004).
The Çatalhöyük West Mound is located around 300m west of the larger Neolithic East Mound separated by the ancient riverbed of the Çarşamba River (Figure 1). The transition from the 7th-6th millennia cal. BC at Çatalhöyük is marked by a shift of settlement from the Late Neolithic East Mound to the Early Chalcolithic
West Mound (Biehl et al. 2012). Until recently it was believed that
In Central Anatolia, knapped stone assemblages from Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic sites are composed of around 90% obsidian and 10% or less of other raw material (Bezić 2007). This material was often classified under the general term “flint” or
Figure 1: Çatalhöyük chronology and area of excavation (after Hodder
Original research paper
occupation on the West Mound took place up to 300 years after the abandonment of the Neolithic site (Mellaart 1967; Schoop
2005). However, new excavations on the latest Neolithic periods on the top of the East Mound, by the team from the University of Poznań (Marciniak and Czerniak 2007), and on the Early
Chalcolithic West Mound, by the team from Buffalo University and Berlin Free University (Biehl et al. 2012), have been closing this gap. Results are expected to demonstrate a gradual transition
(Biehl et al. 2012). At this transitional period, the results of the
Konya Plain Survey Project, conducted by Douglas Baird (Baird
2002) from Liverpool University, indicate a proliferation of smaller sites in the region during the Early Chalcolithic ending with a general decline of the settlements on the Konya Plain during the Middle Chalcolithic. Thus changes revealing deep social and economic transformations (Biehl and Rosenstock 2012;
Marciniak and Czerniak 2007), occurred during this period, and is indicated by changes within the settlement patterns previously mentioned. These transformations are indicated also by changes in relationships between contemporaneous settlements and smaller sites; spatial organisation of settlement; internal plans of houses; burial practices; art; exploitation of resources; subsistence practices; and pottery production, amongst others. Changes are also observed in raw material procurement for knapped stone production. Concerning obsidian, during the Early Chalcolithic, the two Cappadocian sources are represented more or less in the same proportions with a preference in some contexts (Trench
1, Figure 1) for Göllü Dağ obsidian (Ostaptchouk 2012). This is the opposite of what was observed for the Neolithic assemblages.
So changes in obsidian procurement are observed from the
Neolithic to the Early Chalcolithic period. The question asked in this paper is whether the same changes are observed for the other knapped stone raw materials through time and to understand what these changes imply in terms of mobility of people and product circulation.
Recent typo-technological lithic studies of Çatalhöyük West
Mound knapped stone (Ostaptchouk 2012) demonstrate the importance of considering all the raw materials used for knapped stone as a ‘cluster’, that is, a system answering needs
(Perlès 1987), to correctly understand consumption patterns in Central Anatolia during the Early Chalcolithic (Özbaşaran and Buitenhuis 2002). The studies refer to the assemblages from
Trenches 5 and 7 (Buffalo-Berlin Team excavations led by Biehl,
Rogasch and Rosenstock) and present a new study of Trench
1 (Gibson/ Last excavations; Figure 1). The studies illustrate complex management of the different raw materials on site, and show different behavioural (consumption) practices, which probably relate to these resources’ knapping qualities (Biehl et al.
2012; Ostaptchouk 2012).
Regardless, our knowledge of chert is limited and this remains, for archaeologists, an object of frustration. Firstly, concerning these non-obsidian raw materials, terminology, and therefore the definition of the raw materials, is often unclear or general.
The term chert in the English literature, and in this context of study, is often used as “the general term for all sedimentary rocks composed primarily of microcrystalline quartz, including flint, chalcedony, agate, jasper, hornstone, novaculite, and several varieties of semiprecious gems” (Luedtke 1992:5). In this paper, chert will be used as a generic term including materials like flint, chert, jasper or chalcedony. To obtain provenance information, however, it is important to establish a precise characterisation of the raw material, and to use appropriate terminology.
Geologists and archaeologists have used the words flint and chert interchangeably (Spielbauer 1976), or flint as a variety of chert (Blatt 1972), or chert as a variety of flint (Wray 1948).
Also the term chalcedony is used differently by archaeologists, petrologists and mineralogists (Luedtke 1992:6). In this paper, raw material definition is based on mineralogical proprieties.
Infrared spectroscopy has made it possible to distinguish the main silica phases (opal-CT, chalcedony, quartz, amorphous silica) for characterising raw materials with precision (Fröhlich
1993; Fröhlich and Gendron-Badou 2002), establishing a clear terminology to obtain diagenetic process information and thus determine geological provenance. The term chalcedony rock will refer to hydrothermal silicates formation (micro-quartz structure well-organised as fiber) associated with, for example, basalt rocks or volcanic context.
Flint is a mono-mineral raw material composed of chalcedony
(Fröhlich 1981, 1996, 2006). In flint, the chalcedony is not well
Figure 2: Potential sources of chert for Çatalhöyük knapped stone. The square refers to the area of geological survey by Ostaptchouk, Erturaç and Fröhlich
(created by author; see Figure 3)
Sonia Ostaptchouk, Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
organised. The term flint will refer to microcrystalline silicates
(composed of chalcedony mineral) from Cretaceous formation, that is to say, limestone, as it was first defined by the French geologist Cayeux (1929).
Generally archaeologists call all red-, brown-, and caramelcoloured cherts jasper (Luedtke 1992) whereas geologists use the term to refer to cherts with high iron content. The term jasper refers to the microquartz structure of some silicates associated, generally, with ophiolite formations. The term radiolarite is used to describe some varieties of jaspers containing radiolarian fossils. Again, this term is often used in an inappropriate way to describe burgundy-coloured jaspers without observing radiolarian but in this paper this term will be reserved for jaspers in which fossils are identified.
Speculations about sources and provenance of non-obsidian raw materials in Central Anatolia are diverse but are rarely supported by surveys. Concerning geological literature, some authors, such as Blumenthal (1956) mention some cretaceous formations with flint nodules in the western region of Karaman (see Figure 3).
In the north of Konya, in the carboniferous formations of the
Konya Complex, Robertson and Ustaömer (2009) report black cherts. Ophiolite formations, as potential sources of jasper, are often only mentioned with regard to general issues related to geodynamic patterns, tectonics and metamorphism of the region (Aral 2008; Okay 2008; Okay and Tüysüz 1999; Parlak and Robertson 2004; Pasquarè et al. 1988; Tekin 2002; Waldron
1984). However, surveys show that these formations do not often prove to provide suitable raw materials for knapping.
As geological data is almost nonexistent, or at least not comprehensive enough to answer the question of prehistoric sourcing, archaeologists have reported various possible chert sources throughout Anatolia as possible sources of prehistoric artefacts (Figure 2). Mellaart (1967) provides the earliest mention of the western Taurus Mountains as a source of radiolarites at the nearby Çatalhöyük site (Figure 2.8). Doherty et al. (2007) indicate potential sources of radiolarites in the Antalya region
(Figure 2.9), around Mersin (Figure 2.11) and south of Beyşehir
Lake (Figure 2.7). Bezić (2007) also recently reported potential sources of chert west of Beyşehir Lake (Figure 2.6) and southeastern Anatolia. Balkan Atlı (1994) notes the presence of chert around Ankara. Reynolds (2007) mentions silica formations observed in the Göksu Valley (Figure 2.10), road access to which is from Çatalhöyük/Can Hasan to Cilicia, and especially from the site of Mersin-Yumuktepe (French 1970).
Regarding flint sensus stricto, microcrystalline silica composed of chalcedony mineral, few potential sources of good quality material, with block-sizes permitting blade débitage, are advanced by the aforementioned authors. The few sites noted are all located in south-eastern Anatolia where we know that industries are composed of almost 90% flint and that there are, therefore, widely available local sources. The Kahramanmaraş region (Figure 2.4) and Gaziantep (Figure 2.14) are the most commonly mentioned in the literature (Bezić 2007; Carter et al.
2005; Doherty et al. 2007; Mellaart 1967). There are also sources throughout the Urfa region, to the east of Gaziantep. These regions are known for the production of long regular flint blades
(Canaanean blades) used as sickles or threshing sledge elements
(Anderson et al. 2004; Anderson and Inizan 1994; Edens
2000; Hartenberger et al. 1999), which are present on several archaeological sites (Figure 2), and for the exploitation of sources from prehistory until the 1960-1970s (Bordaz and Bordaz 1970).
This paper has multiple aims: it will present a statement of knowledge about local available chert resources in the region developed through the description of sources located by the
Anatolian Archaeological Raw Material survey (AARMs) project, and field work conducted in May 2011 by Ostaptchouk, Erturaç and Fröhlich. The ultimate aim is to combine the geological and geomorphological data obtained during field work with observations on archaeological material. Using these new and recent projects and publications (Doherty et al. 2007; Nazaroff et al. 2013; Ostaptchouk 2012), we will be able to discuss, for the first time, chert consumption in a diachronic perspective from the Neolithic to the Early Chalcolithic.
Background to chert studies at Çatalhöyük
The first pilot study of non-obsidian chipped stone (NOCs)
A first pilot study on the Çatalhöyük NOCs characterisation and sourcing problem was undertaken in 2006 by Doherty,
Milić and Carter (Carter et al. 2006a; Doherty and Milić 2007;
Doherty et al. 2007). The study focused on material from the
Aceramic Neolithic levels at Çatalhöyük East (level Pre-XII sequence, ca. 7400-7000 cal. BC). Their aim was to document the consumption of these various siliceous resources through time
(and synchronically on an intra-site level) by using an analytical framework that integrated visual, archaeometric, technological and typological modes of artefact characterisation (Carter et al.
2006a; Doherty and Milić 2007; Doherty et al. 2007). In essence their work followed the melded chaîne opératoire analytical framework outlined in the obsidian characterisation studies undertaken at the site (Carter et al. 2006b). The work commenced with a visual distinction of the artefacts’ raw material. The validity of the resultant 24 groups was then tested through chemical analysis, using techniques that targeted both major and trace elemental analysis, specifically scanning electron microscopy combined with wavelength dispersive spectroscopy (SEM-
WDS) and inductively coupled plasma mass-spectroscopy (ICP-
MS). The study’s final aim was to assign a possible provenance to various siliceous resources and understand the modalities of exploitation of their raw material. While certain difficulties existed in correlating macroscopic visual groups with chemical groups, a range of raw material was clearly defined and sources were tentatively assigned for a sub-set of the material (Doherty et al. in prep.).
Despite this pilot study, no geological and systematic surveys were done to develop this topic. First surveys were conducted by Ostaptchouk, Erturaç and Fröhlich in Central Anatolia, in
May 2011, as part of the author’s PhD, to understand chert raw material consumption during the Early Chalcolithic. Following this, AARMs, in the continuation of the pilot study, developed a parallel project on Neolithic assemblages.
The Anatolian Archaeological Raw Material Survey (AARMS)
Surveys were conducted in June 2011 by Nazaroff, Baysal and
Çiftçi (Nazaroff et al. 2013). The objective of this field work was to locate, map and characterise chert sources. The
AARM surveys were focused around the Afyon region and
Eskişehir (Figure 2.2 and 3), the ophiolite formations in the western part of the Konya Basin (Figure 2.4) and the alluvial secondary deposits of the Çarşamba River near Çatalhöyük
(Figure 2.5). Three main potential prehistoric source areas, with raw materials suitable for knapping, were located and described: the Afyon region, Akdere and Konya radiolarite.
Original research paper
In the Afyon-Eskişehir region (Figure 2.2 and 3), two sources were described: a source near Şuhut presents white translucent to opaque, pale pink to orange, and red violet to deep red chert. For many of these blocks, black ‘cracks’ are noted spreading across the material surface. According to Nazaroff et al. (2013:347), these cracks do not affect the properties of the rock and its knappability.
The other source in the south of Şuhut (5km south of the town) is described as having small nodules, with a maximum diameter of approximately 5cm, in a secondary position.
Nazaroff et al. (2013) describe the sources of Akdere as containing the best quality chert observed during their surveys. This source is located to the north of the village of the same name. They describe a translucid milky white chalcedony from limestone with large black inclusions, referred to as “black snowflakes”
(Nazaroff et al. 2013:348). The description provided by Nazaroff et al. (2013:348) suggests that these inclusions are probably dendrites of manganese. Locally, some small nodules of orange and green jaspers are also available, but are considered to be of poor quality.
Finally, Nazaroff et al. (2013) mention radiolarites in the Konya region: “Standard red and orange color for Anatolian radiolarites with some instances of green” (Nazaroff et al. 2013:345). Three sources are located: (1) around Gedik Tepe north of Konya,
(2) ophiolitic formations near Hatip, west of Konya, and (3) radiolarites found in secondary position on the banks of the
Çarşamba river. Only the two latter sources have provided suitable material for knapping (Nazaroff et al. 2013). The Hatip radiolarites (Figure 2.4) are located in the ophiolite formations.
They are more or less translucent orange and orange opaque with numerous dendrites of manganese. This data is reported as specific to Hatip raw materials. Thus, the AARMs project has recently located three primary sources in the region of Afyon and Konya and a secondary source (Çarşamba River).
Back to field work: location and evaluation of locally available chert resources
This survey project predates that of AARMS, so the results of the
AARM survey did not guide the team’s choice in terms of survey area. Due to the dearth of chert sourcing studies when the survey was prepared, it was decided to focus the field work on ophiolite and cretaceous formations, as a first examination of Çatalhöyük raw materials had determined that flint and jasper are the most represented material after obsidian.
Field work was focused on silica rocks mentioned in the literature but also cretaceous (Senonian) limestone exposures (Mineral
Research and Exploration General Directorate (MTA) geological map of Turkey, 1/500.000), which fall inside a large circle of
100km in radius around the archaeological site of Çatalhöyük
(Figure 3). Ophiolitic formation was surveyed north of Konya in order to look for associated silica rocks (that is, radiolarite) and to evaluate their knappability. The Konya Complex (northwest of
Konya) is described as a tectonic melange where Robertson and
Ustaömer (2009) described the occurrence of black chert (lydite) in carboniferous limestones (Figure 3).
Outcrops of cretaceous formations, especially senonian limestones, were tracked using the MTA geological map of the region (1/500.000). Exposures along the road cuts were systematically sampled. To the south, cretaceous formations in the region between Karaman and Akören were surveyed, where
Blumenthal (1956) mentioned the presence of flint nodules
(Figure 3). The lack of data on raw material sources led to the extension of the survey through the large Cretaceous formations around the Beycesultan-Akseki area which is approximately
100km away from Çatalhöyük (Figure 3). Thus, the survey of primary sources was carried out to the west of the site in a semicircle with a radius of 115km.
Figure 3: Map of western part of Central Anatolia showing geological formations sampled during the survey project by Ostaptchouk, Erturaç and
Fröhlich in May 2011 (created by author)
Sonia Ostaptchouk, Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
The study of secondary sources was difficult and results were unsatisfactory because of the management of the hydraulic network in Anatolia (successive dams, channels and concrete banks rendered sites often inaccessible) and intensive agriculture in the Konya Plain. Different parts of the Çarşamba River along the Beyşehir Kanak gorge between Aydınkışla and Alibeyhüyüğü were surveyed, and only one sample was found (Figure 3). The topic of fluvial terraces as potential secondary sources should be developed in future geological surveys.
Field work during the 10 days resulted in the collection of 34 geological hand samples that were exported to France for mineralogical (infrared spectroscopy analyses) and petrographic studies (Ostaptchouk 2012). A reference collection of these samples was also sent to the Department of Prehistory at Istanbul
University. The purpose of this study was to describe and characterise, in detail, geological samples using field observations and laboratory analysis. For this paper, sample numbers and descriptions are summarised in Table 1.
Several criteria were used to evaluate the knappability of raw materials: field observations such as the accessibility of sources and raw material, the size of nodules or thickness of table, the degree of fracturing/tectonised marks (listed in Table 1 as fractures, chalcedony or calcite veins) and of metamorphism
(noted in Table 1 as re-crystallisation or flint-like powder). Some of these criteria are reported in Table 1.
From artefact to provenance information: raw material study methodology
Surveys allow some potential sources for knapped stone raw material to be located, many of them, however, are not yet located. In raw material studies, provenance information is generally obtained by comparison with geological data.
So without this geological data, it was necessary to ‘extract’ the provenance information from the artefact raw material itself. Precise characterisation of the raw material allows the identification of the raw material and thus the information about its geological context of formation can be obtained. In turn, this allows discussion about the raw material potential provenance by using geological maps. The typo-technological study also informs modalities of raw material procurement (size of blocks or nature of the production).
The first step of the study was to describe the raw materials for a visual classification (Table 2). Criteria used included the colour, as a subjective term, but also by using spectrometry of colour giving three coordinates to locate the sample in the CIEL*a*b* colour space, and its distribution (mottled, banded). The grain, the opacity, the texture, the luster and the inclusions were also reported, as in Nazaroff et al. (2013), which permits establishing correlations of types between Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic chert. Natural surfaces as cortex or altered surfaces were also observed to obtain information in terms of position of raw material acquisition (primary or secondary position).
Infrared spectroscopy for the characterisation of chert raw material has not been used much in archaeology (Fröhlich and
Gendron-Badou 2002; Parish 2011; Parish et al. 2013). Rapid and cheap, infrared spectroscopy allows access to a vibrational system of raw material molecules, offering a complete fingerprint with a quantification of the mineralogical components of the material. The mineralogical study of Çatalhöyük West raw material is presented in the author’s PhD (Ostaptchouk 2012) and in an article in preparation. It was decided to present only the macroscopic study in this paper because it is the only dataset that could be compared with the Neolithic assemblages. Indeed,
Nazaroff et al. (2013) used chemical analysis to characterise
Neolithic chert. This paper presents the main macroscopic criteria that allow visual groups to be defined. Thus the terminology is fixed as raw materials are described by macroscopic classification and infrared spectroscopy allows for precise characterisation.
The typo-technological studies permit the author to surmise how the materials circulated and to evaluate the know-how of the knappers and their investment in the transformation of the raw materials for the débitage.
Different kinds of silicate formations were observed during field work (Figure 4). Flint, as a bed of nodules (Figure 4.C) with or without cortex, was observed in softer fine-grained limestone
(micrite) marked by tectonics (fracture and fault).Tabular flint, without cortex, comes from fine grained limestone (micrite) marked by tectonics (fractures and fault: see Figure 4.B) and metamorphism (flint-like powder) in an ancient quarry near
Akseki. Tables were a maximum of 10cm of thickness (Figure
4.D). Some green tabular flints were sampled in the Karaman region (Table 1). Massive jasper blocks (reddish or light brown:
Figures 4.F and 4.G) were observed in ophiolite formations and were present on the surface of some fields. Blocks were heavily marked by tectonics and re-crystallised. The tectonised marks and field observations allow us to distinguish two kinds of raw material: poor quality (+) and very bad quality (-) for knapping
(see Table 1). Globally, the raw material observed in the area of study can be qualified as poor quality because of regional geodynamic patterns.
Regional geodynamics patterns and their implication in terms of raw material resources
On the one hand, field observations confirm that typical flint was observed in Central Anatolia (flint sensus stricto with chalcedony matrix) as described by Fröhlich (2006) and Cayeux
Figure 4: Silicate formations. A: nodule, west Konya. B: Tabular flint,
Karaman. C: bed of small nodules. D: Tabular black flint affected by tectonics. E-G: Jaspers, north of Konya (photographs by author, May
Original research paper
(1929): flint is included in fine grained limestone (micrite, foraminifer rich) and more or less dissociated from it by cortex.
However, two phenomena observed in the field, tectonics and metamorphism, have modified the characteristics of flint itself: the tectonics fractured the rock without altering the facies while
the metamorphism modified the nature of flint itself (from chalcedony to microquartz structure, Ostaptchouk 2012). At the scale of one source, nodules can show tectonic marks and different degrees of metamorphism. Jaspers are essentially altered by tectonics and re-crystallised with pseudo-chalcedonite veins.
Carboniferous rocks (carbonate/clastic rocks)
(rare + to abundant
+++ / ++
Karaman - E of
005, 006 orange jaspers, re-crystallised
KW003 fine-grained grey flint, partially altered by metamorphism orange jaspers, re-crystallised
008 silicified volcanic ashes, green; big blocks are available
KARA005 fine-grained pinkish grey flint
KARA006 light burgundy-coloured flint
010 light grey flint (small nodules); partially altered by metamorphism pinkish grey flint; small nodules and tabular flint
012 light grey flint; small nodules
Middle Trias-Jurassic (neritic limestone)
Upper Senonian (carbonate/ clastic rocks)
Upper Senonian (carbonate/ clastic rocks)
Upper Senonian (carbonate/ clastic rocks)
Upper Cretaceous (neritic limestone)
Upper Senonian (pelagic limestone)
Upper Cretaceous (neritic limestone)
Upper Senonian (pelagic limestone) block nodules tabular/bedded nodule to bedded nodules nodules bedded nodules tabular/bedded nodules nodules/bedded nodules
+++ / ++ rare
Seydişehir/ Akseki/ Ibradi
Near Aydınkışla BEY014 dark grey flint, tectonised Upper Senonian (carbonate/ clastic rocks) pinkish flint; small tabular flint fragments dark grey to black flint
Upper Senonian (neritic limestone) bank of the river nodules/bedded nodules deep red jasper, small blocks; very tectonised
Ophiolites (near BEY004/005) block grey flint (KARA011, 012) Upper Cretaceous nodules tabular nodules tabular tabular
Upper Cretaceous (neritic limestone)
Upper Cretaceous (neritic limestone) nodules ++/ + -
SEC002 grey flint, small nodule (KARA011,012 and
BEY007-013); also one dark grey flint (like
BEY014) grey flint, small nodules (KARA011,012 and
BEY007-013) terrace nodules rare -
Table 1: Geological samples and their description
Sonia Ostaptchouk, Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Tectonics and metamorphism are clearly two phenomena that must be considered during chert-sourcing studies in Central
Anatolia because of the geological setting of the region. The region was marked by metamorphism episodes, notably during the Late Cretaceous (Burg et al. 1990; Okay 2008). Regional geodynamic settings in Central Anatolia are complex and marked by successive metamorphism episodes (Burg et al. 1990). Indeed, the eastern Mediterranean region has been an active margin since at least Mesozoic times as a result of the closure of the Neo-
Tethyan ocean, and the convergence between Africa and Eurasia since the Cretaceous (Barrier and Vrielynck 2008; Dercourt et al. 2000; Stampfli and Borel 2004; Torsvik et al. 2008). Central
Anatolia has endured intense regional deformation leading to the formation of high-relief topography (for example the Taurus and Pontide ranges) and volcanism for the last 10 million years
(Aydar 1992; Dhont et al. 1998; Pasquarè et al. 1988; Sengör et al.
1985). High-relief topography (for example, the Taurus range) is associated with collision while the internal part of the Anatolian micro-plate, Central Anatolia, appears as a flat plateau of about
1000 meters. This plateau hosts large depressions such as the
Tuz Gölü and Konya Plain, and is marked with two distinct stratovolcanoes (Erciyes and Hasandağı), and strike-slip faults such as the Tuz Gölü and Central Anatolia faults. These two phenomena explain how modifications to the physical properties of flint and some jaspers made them unsuitable for knapping.
On the other hand, the geological surveys confirm the hypothesis based on detailed study of Çatalhöyük West Mound knapped stone: bad quality raw material is locally present as small nodules. It generally comes from ophiolitic formations (jasper).
For some rare better-quality sources, nodules are too small and not suitable for big blade production, such as the glossy blades observed at Çatalhöyük. Regional geodynamic patterns have an impact on raw materials and implications of their procurement.
To summarise, the quality of the raw materials is poor, full of
‘cracks’ and often unsuitable for knapping. The only blocks suitable for knapping are small, limiting the range of sizes in lithic production. Bladelet production could have been realised with this size of block but this kind of production is not present at Çatalhöyük during the Early Chalcolithic. Nevertheless these poor quality raw materials were considered suitable enough by the Early Chalcolithic people, for percussion or scraper-like tools that are tool types with poor technical investment. It is anticipated that this is an opportunist collection during acquisition of other raw materials or other activities. A survey in the region between
Çatalhöyük and Akören has already illustrated the potential of this area for ground-stone and pigments raw material sources
(Baysal 1998, 2004).
Potential sources of flint and other silicifications in Central
Anatolia and neighbouring regions
An exploitable raw material source has to fulfill some basic criteria. Firstly, it must be accessible. This accessibility is based on visibility in the landscape but also on transportation effort (relief, distance from site to source). The facility or not for extraction of materials at the source is also a parameter to consider, as some big blocks of flint in metamorphosed limestone were found to be impossible to extract. Finally, the raw material from these sources must be available in sufficient quantities, but must also offer block sizes appropriate for the intention of the production (especially for big blade production). The raw material must, obviously, be of good quality (not tectonised or fractured with many cavities).
Each of these aspects will, therefore, be discussed for the different sources mentioned in archaeological publications (Figure 2) and sources observed during field work to conclude the presentation of the geological data.
Close to Çatalhöyük, three potential sources have been identified to the north and west of Konya: orange and burgundy-coloured jaspers (designation ‘radiolarites’, Nazaroff et al. 2013). In the north of Konya (Figure 3), these were sampled as blocks with a maximum diameter of 10cm. They show a high degree of re-crystallisation affecting the homogeneity of material and therefore its knappability. Jasper blocks, from the western part of Konya, whilst having the same macroscopic criteria, are less altered by tectonics and therefore have less re-crystallisation.
The blocks, however, are small and rarely exceed 10cm in diameter. These data are supported by observations from the
AARM surveys. Nazaroff et al. (2013) also report the presence of some artefacts on the ground supporting the exploitation of this source. Finally, another potential source of local burgundycoloured ophiolites is documented by the AARMS project, in the alluvium of the Çarşamba River. Like the author, however,
AARMS was disappointed by the low quantity of raw material sampled in the river.
A potential source in the southwest of Karaman, in the area of
Başkışla (Figure 3), was identified during the surveys. The green raw material is a silicification of volcanic ashes. This source offers the advantage of providing blocks in primary position but also in sub-primary position (slope deposits transported by a stream): it was possible to select non-tectonised blocks around a maximum of 25-30cm in diameter. These blocks are some of the largest observed during the surveys.
At a larger scale, raw material procurement in the Taurus
Mountains area is quite problematic. The impact of tectonics and metamorphism is already very noticeable in margins of this area. It is unlikely that the area can provide significant amounts of quality raw materials or sufficiently sized blocks to allow a laminar débitage. Whilst the Taurus seems to be tectonised in
Central Anatolia south of Karaman, Juteau (1968) argues that this is not the case for the Lycian Taurus, which was noted as a potential source by Doherty et al. (2007; Figure 2.9). The Taurus, in its southernmost part, around the Antalya Bay, appears to be rich in ophiolitic and cretaceous formations (MTA 2002). Juteau
(1968) noted flint nodules in the important Alakir Çay formation
(Figure 2.9). This information should, however, be considered with caution as although Juteau (1968) noted flint nodules in the region of Karaman, field work has shown that these were tectonised and metamorphosed.
Chert sources were pointed out east of Lake Beyşehir by Bezić
(2007; Figure 2.6) and in the southern part by Doherty et al.
(2007; Figure 2.7). Indeed, the presence of flint and ophiolites has been observed in this region. The formations are, however, very altered by tectonics and have therefore not been attributed as potential sources in this paper. Therefore, the only potential local sources reported today are in the northern and western parts of Konya. The sources west of Afyon are considered as extra-regional sources.
Changes in raw material procurement at
Çatalhöyük from the Neolithic to Early Chalcolithic
Mineralogical diversity during the Early Chalcolithic
Chert studies of Çatalhöyük West assemblages reveal much more visual and mineralogical diversity during the Early
Original research paper
Chalcolithic than during the preceding Neolithic. For the East
Mound/ Neolithic assemblages, 23 types were described for 686 pieces (Nazaroff et al. 2013) whereas for the West Mound/ Early
Chalcolithic, 45 macroscopic types (Table 2) were determined for a total of 280 pieces (Ostaptchouk 2012). difficult to discuss. Recent results published by Nazaroff et al.
(2013) allows the presentation of the first diachronic overview of chert procurement through time at Çatalhöyük and suggestions concerning the changes in terms of mobility, exploited territories, resources and raw material procurement.
Mineralogical study using Fourier-transformed infrared spectroscopy allows precise characterisation of the raw materials exploited. Methods and results of analysis are not presented in this paper but in unpublished PhD work (Ostaptchouk
2012). Various silica rocks were identified (Figure 5). The lithic assemblage of the West Mound is composed of 3.2% flint, 0.75% chalcedony and 0.54% jasper (essentially caramel and burgundycoloured). Other raw materials are anecdotic: 0.16% opale-
CT and partially silicified limestone, 0.06% basalt and 0.01% sandstone and lydite.
Chert raw material consumption: diachronic perspectives
It is difficult to compare the visual macroscopic types
(Ostaptchouk 2012) to the types described by Nazaroff et al.
(2013) mainly because the two different visual classifications were elaborated separately, by different people and by using different macroscopic criteria to describe the raw material. Nevertheless, some visual groups present clearly identifiable features, allowing us to align the types from both studies. Thus we will focus on the “snow-flake” chert and radiolarite/ophiolite described by
Nazaroff et al. (2013:348).
Each of these raw materials refers to a specific geological context of procurement. Jasper (microquartz structure) is associated with ophiolite formation. Flint comes from upper cretaceous formations. Basalt refers to volcanic context. Lydite was observed in carboniferous formations north of Konya. Finally chalcedony, hydrothermal formation, and opale-CT can be associated with volcanic raw materials procurement. Thus the characterisation of the raw materials permits putting forward the first hypothesis, in terms of geological provenance. Note that a study of natural surfaces, still present on some artefacts, and their alterations, allows the author to also surmise various positions of procurement of raw materials; that is in primary and secondary positions. This study of chert emphasises a complexity and diversity in terms of material procurement that were not observe for obsidian at Çatalhöyük during the Early Chalcolithic. Visual and mineralogical diversity, various positions of acquisition and the typo-technological studies show different degrees of technical investment in the transformation of raw materials and their débitage.
Many publications about obsidian point out changes over time in the exploitation of Cappadocian obsidian sources for knapping. Diachronic changes about flint, however, are more
The first main difference concerning the Neolithic and Early
Chalcolithic raw material is that for less material we have a higher visual and mineralogical diversity during the Early Chalcolithic
(that is, 45 groups are present, see Table 2). Three major types predominate during the Neolithic representing 64% of the material studied: light brown chert (type 1), white translucent chalcedony transparent with black snow-flake inclusions (type
20), and several radiolarites orange / green / red and brown
(type 21) interpreted as belonging at the Central Anatolian sphere (Nazaroff et al. 2013). We will focus the comparison on types 20 and 21 (Figure 6). These two groups represent 53% of the Neolithic assemblage studied. The authors attribute the macroscopic group 20 to the Akdere source and group 21 to local sources in Konya region (Nazaroff et al. 2013). For the Early
Chalcolithic assemblage, on the basis of macroscopic criteria of colour, texture and inclusions, the Neolithic radiolarites general group are linked to the author’s jasper type 3 (jasper burgundy), type 4 (jasper brown) , type 26 (grey chert) and 37
(green jasper) (Table 2). These four types represent 13% of the chert assemblage. Thus, the proportion of ophiolites, local raw materials, continues to be well represented from the Neolithic to the Early Chalcolithic (Figure 6).
Figure 5: Frequencies of raw materials of Çatalhöyük West Mound knapped stone (Ostaptchouk 2012)
Sonia Ostaptchouk, Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Number of artefacts
General description Cortex
dolomitic flint fine-grained cream flint showing white filament as inclusions (dolomit rich) compact, calcitic irregular blade production dolomitic flint fine-grained cream flint absent jasper
(radiolarite) flint flint opale-CT
fine-grained burgundy-coloured jasper.
Some natural surfaces showing secondary position procurement fine-grained caramel-coloured flint.
Presence of compact cortex on some pieces grainy (like sandstone) and mottled flint.
Grey, light pinkish or light burgundycoloured with calcitic inclusions (circle) fine-grained waxy brown opale-CT.
Inclusions of fragment of manganese altered natural surface, transport compact, calcitic absent absent opale-CT obsidian flint fine-grained waxy cream opale-CT.
Inclusions of fragment of manganese fine-grained waxy grey obsidian. Was classified as chert but identified as obsidian thanks to FTIR analysis fine-grained white flint. Some pieces present yellow patina absent absent absent big blade production
(glossy blades), some cores
(opportunist debitage) tools, flakes, retouched pebble and small blades flakes and debris big retouched blades (some glossy blades) retouched flakes retouched flakes flakes retouched flake and possible debris of small core big blade production (some glossy blades), big retouched flake white with chalcedony signature retouched flakes flint flint flint limestone fine-grained bi-colour flint (brown light/dark) fine-grained brown flint brown flint (a little mottled) with many clacitic inclusions divers partially silicified limestone.
Yellow, grey and cream absent absent compact, calcitic
flakes flakes retouched flakes and flakes flakes
4 flint flint flint fine-grained cream flint. Raw material pick up for its tablet form chalcedony rough white and opaque chalcedony absent tool for polishing (usewear: polished edges and surfaces) thin calcitic concretion on surface retouched flakes and flakes fine-grained cream greyish flint, little mottled fine-grained flint with white/cream/brown zone. Inclusions of fragment of manganese absent very thin cortex, calcitic retouched flakes and flakes retouched flakes retouched blades flint jasper
fine-grained chocolate flint brown bi-coloured jasper absent absent retouched flakes, retouched blades (fragment) irregular blade with glossy edge flint grained brown flint absent flakes
21 1 flint brown flint regularly mottled
Table 2: Chert macroscopic groups of Çatalhöyük West assemblage (after Ostaptchouk 2012)
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1 flint mottled and dappled brown flint absent flint fine-grained cream flint. A little translucid absent flakes flint flint jasper waxy brown flint cortex and white zone under-cortex, compact, and silifified flakes irregular retouched blade fine-grained cream flint. One river pebble natural surface percussion tool flake waxy grey jasper. Natural surface showing a secondary position of procurement of the raw material brown altered surface flake limestone cream fine-grained limestone concretion flake chalcedony grained orange/white chalcedony. Mottled absent lydite grained black and white lydite as observed in north of Konya absent flint cream flint with darker stripes absent retouched flake flake flake flake
31 3 Basalt fine-grained basalt absent flake
1 flint various burnt flints grained cream greyish flint absent absent absent flake flakes, retouched flakes, fragment of retouched blades flakes
35 4 flint grained brown flint. Calcitic inclusions
(micro-fossils rich) grained flint. Dappled white and grey compact, calcitic retouched flakes, flakes
3 flint jasper grey greenish jasper absent absent flakes flake and small blade fragment flakes 38 2 flint grained flint. Dappled brown and reddish absent
39 1 flint grained flint. Dappled light grey to dark grey. Calcitic inclusions absent
3 flint flint fine-grained mottled flint. Brown to black absent coarse grained mottled flint. Light brown to dark.
absent altered surface 42 3
43 4 chalcedony coarse grained white and brown/orange chalcedony. Little mottled. Calcitic inclusions compact
44 1 flint grained mottled flint. absent
45 4 flint fine-grained/grained flint. White zonation and brown. Trace of fossils and fragments of manganese thin, print of fossils in cortex
Table 2 (continued): Chert macroscopic groups of Çatalhöyük West assemblage (after Ostaptchouk 2012)
flakes flakes and opportunist flake core irregular small flake core retouched flakes and flakes retouched flakes and flakes fragment of irregular blade cores and flakes
Sonia Ostaptchouk, Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Figure 6: Diachronic changes of proportions of radiolarites and Akdere source chert from Neolithic to Early Chalcolithic (after Nazaroff et al.
2013, created by author)
It is still difficult, with the current state of knowledge, to correlate these data from East and West on the basis of macroscopic groups. Therefore, another important point must be discussed: the scarcity of the Akdere source in the Early Chalcolithic assemblage. The Akdere source (type 20, Nazaroff et al. 2013) represents 33% of the Neolithic assemblage compared to 6% during the Early Chalcolithic (Figure 6). This observation leads the author to question the reason for this lack of evidence of the
Akdere source during the Early Chalcolithic. Nazaroff et al. (2013) suggest that the strong presence of the Akdere source during the
Neolithic could be linked to social relationships between the regions. Thissen (2002) suggests relationships existed between
Çatalhöyük and populations in the northwest of Anatolia during the site’s later Neolithic occupation. The occurrence of Akdere chert (located in between these two regions) in Çatalhöyük’s earlier levels indicates that interactions between the regions mentioned might have occurred earlier than Thissen proposed.
This hypothesis is problematic for the Early Chalcolithic context in terms of raw material consumption behaviour. The site-tosource distance of the Akdere raw material and the technical investment in this raw material during the Early Chalcolithic suggest a closer source of this kind of translucid chalcedony.
Indeed the exploitation of this raw material is quite anecdotal at this period (Figure 6). Concerning its production, it is a rough, opportunistic and expedient one (irregular retouched flakes and flakes). This technical behaviour is not consistent with the transportation effort implied by procurement at such a distant source. Indeed, the idea that the investment (time / distance / human) needed to acquire the raw material gives value to the material itself is advocated by the author. A distant raw material would, therefore, be the subject of special care related to these difficulties or investment in its acquisition. In contrast, a raw material that does not show technical investment in its exploitation, with a coarse débitage, would be acquired through a process of ‘least effort’.
Chalcedony hydrothermal formation is associated with volcanic formations. The author suggests some sources might have existed closer to the site, around the Karadağ complex, approximately
30km to south, compared to 220km to the northwest for Akdere.
More and more, however, recycling behavior by the West Mound people becomes probable; they could potentially have re-used some raw materials from the East Mound.
There are still many unanswered questions about chert raw material procurement. During the Early Chalcolithic,
Figure 7: Flint production at Çatalhöyük West. 1: core; 2-4: glossy blades;
5: percussion tool on pebble (photographs and drawings by author)
exploitation of raw materials is clearly observed in the following pattern: approximately half is local, bad quality raw material collected opportunistically during other activities such as agropastoral activities, with the importation of products using good quality flint also being undertaken (Figure 7). Twenty-two per cent of chert raw material during the Early Chalcolithic, essentially flint, is considered as an extra-regional material.
The typo-technological study allows the authors to enrich these observations: different spheres of procurement (local, regional, extra-regional) are highlighted and each of these spheres refers to different modes of raw material procurement, and illustrates the circulation of people or products across Anatolia (Figure 8).
Spheres of raw material procurement
Binford was one of the first to look at raw material procurement to define territories and mobility of groups enriched by ethnographic observations (Binford 1965, 1979, 1980, 1982). He attempted to demonstrate that “there are important consequences for site patterning arising from the interaction between economic zonation, which is always relative to specific places, and tactical mobility, which is the accommodation of a system to its broader environmental geography” (Binford 1982:6). He distinguished:
1 - the domestic zone, or “play radius” (Binford 1982:8), around the site; 2 - beyond the play radius, “the foraging radius”, which rarely extends beyond 6 miles (around 9-10km) of the residential camp: “this is an area searched and exploited by work parties who leave the camp to exploit the environment and return home in a single day” (Binford 1982:7); 3 - beyond the foraging radius is the “logistical radius”: “this is the zone which is exploited by task groups who stay away from the residential camp at least one night before returning. In many cases groups may remain away from residential camps for considerable periods of time”
(Binford 1982: 7); 4 - beyond the logistical zone we find “the
Original research paper
visiting zone”: “this is the area contemporaneously occupied by relatives, trading partners, wife-sharing partners, etc., and hence within the foraging radius or logistical zone of another subsistence unit” (Binford 1982:8).
Raw material studies combined with typo-technological studies considerably enrich our overview of consumption of knapped stone raw materials and exploited territories through time at
Çatalhöyük. At this time, the author’s recent work emphasises different spheres of raw material procurement (Ostaptchouk
2012): local, regional and extra-regional (Figure 8). The local sphere refers to the exploitation of local bad quality raw material
(Figure 8, Sphere I). Considering parameters as diverse as block size, mineralogical diversity and investment in débitage/ transformation of blanks, this industry reveals a direct and opportunistic acquisition. This product is an expedient débitage of flakes (e.g. from core Figure 7.1). Some blocks or pebbles are directly used as tools for percussion work (Figure 7.5). The raw materials exploited are mainly jaspers from ophiolite and flint.
The local sphere is also defined by a minimum radius of 50km around the site. Considering Binford’s economic zonation
(Binford 1982), this local sphere considers the logistical radius, a familiar zonation, and the visiting zone. Binford (1982) mentions that a procurement of raw material in this logistical area and beyond implies comfort accommodations (water, transportation) and a social network or relationship between groups: “Exploitation of resources in such a zone generally is dependent upon establishing temporary residence at the camp of other persons. Once this is done the ‘visitor’ frequently participates in the exploitative strategies of the host group, joining foraging units and participating on special work groups penetrating the logistical zone for specific reasons” (Binford
1982:8). Around Çatalhöyük, during the Late Neolithic and Early
Chalcolithic, Baird (2012) mentions the appearance of several small sites in the Konya Plain, creating a new periphery-center network system. Moreover, a camp site, Pınarbaşı (Figure 3), is known around 30km to the south-east of the site (Baird 2012).
Some authors also mention contact and relationship between the site of Çatalhöyük and that of Can Hasan, around 73km to the southeast, during the Early Chalcolithic and before (French
1998). Thus, important changes in settlement patterns and in the
‘local’ zonation network system seem to have taken place during the Late Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic in the Konya Plain.
Knapped stone contributes to the understanding of changes in terms of raw material procurement. This large sector includes potential sources of basalt, andesite and other rocks reported for the production of ground-stone during Neolithic and Early
Chalcolithic (Baysal 2004; Brady 2013) between Çatalhöyük and Seydişehir Lake (see Figure 3). Thus, it is envisaged that the chert raw material procurement in this sphere, for domestic and opportunistic production, was embedded in the procurement of other resources. There is not yet enough data for the Early
Chalcolithic to develop the point in this paper.
The regional sphere refers to the exploitation of the Cappadocian obsidian sources (Figure 8, Sphere II). Obsidian from the sources of eastern Anatolia are not discussed here, as during the Early
Chalcolithic its occurrence is anecdotal and generally comes from insecure archaeological contexts. Thus obsidian is transported at the Central Anatolia scale, from over 180km northeast of the site. The production of obsidian blades on the site has already been discussed by the author in a separate paper (Ostaptchouk
2012). In this second sphere, it is preformed nuclei that circulate.
Blade circulation is not excluded (especially for some products such as big blades). Obsidian consumption on site is estimated between 57-70kg per year following the same calculation used by Cessford and Carter (2005). Moreover the typo-technological study emphasises the fact that Early Chalcolithic Çatalhöyük is clearly a village where obsidian seems to have lost its importance in the group’s economic system that it held during the Neolithic.
Lithics are present in much smaller quantities and indicate behaviour of re-using or re-cycling blocks. It seems that a direct acquisition from sources or sites neighbouring sources is no longer an option as hypothesis of procurement. Exchange networks could be powered by a new population mobility linked to pastoral activities. This change, or decline, of lithic production
Figure 8: Spheres of raw materials procurement at Çatalhöyük West during the Early Chalcolithic (photographs by author, 5.5.2011; created by author)
Sonia Ostaptchouk, Chert Knapped Stone Studies at Çatalhöyük | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
is not peculiar to Çatalhöyük. Indeed, at this transitional period between the Late Neolithic and the Early Chalcolithic, the turn of the 7th-6th millennium cal. BC, there are many references in the literature about a break from the Neolithic obsidian production. French (1965) wrote of the Chalcolithic production as being poorer and less beautiful than during the Neolithic. At
Mersin-Yumuktepe, Caneva (2012) discusses the collapse of a network system beginning at the final Neolithic (Level XXIV/
5800 cal. BC). Caneva (2012) notes “an important change in raw material year acquisition strategies with a possible reduction in the obsidian distribution network [...] Changes in raw material acquisition, as well as in technical complexity and production scale, suggest that deeper socio-political changes were ongoing in the site at the very beginning of the Halaf influence in this region” (Caneva 2012:11-13).
Parallel to the obsidian exchange network, or as an integrated part of it, high quality flint products circulate in a third sphere, at the extra-regional scale, over a distance of more than 200km
(Figure 8, Sphere III). This sphere reflects circulation of big blades between regions. During the Early Chalcolithic, these flint products are mainly present in the form of rectangular or square tools (Figure 7.2-4), probably elements of sickles, with noticeable gloss on the edges. Glossy flint blades are also occasionally observed in Neolithic assemblages. They are quite frequent, in relative proportion, in the Early Chalcolithic assemblage. Long flint blades, the products of specialists, are also reported at this time at Mersin-Yumuktepe (Caneva 2012). Caneva (2012) describes a cream-coloured flint that reminds the author of the dolomitic flint observed at Çatalhöyük. Moreover for final
Neolithic assemblages (Level XXIV/ 5800 cal. BC), Caneva
(2012) reports the co-existence of flint domestic production with this specialised production “the ad hoc débitage, however, coexisted with blade fragments of the beige flint, a distinct nonlocal raw material. These regular blade segments occurred in limited numbers in the assemblage, and most had glossed edges as did the more numerous small flakes” (Caneva 2012:11).
Carter et al. (2005b) wrote that “the chipped stone industry is thus comprised almost entirely of exotic resources, many of which had to be procured from sources far beyond the Konya
Plain” (Carter et al. 2005b:285). If this affirmation is true for the
Neolithic assemblage, it must be nuanced for Early Chalcolithic: the importance of the opportunist exploitation of local poor quality raw materials complementary to obsidian production must be emphasised. Consumption studies of flint and obsidian raw materials at Çatalhöyük highlight profound changes in terms of lithic resources exploited and the mobility of people and products through Anatolia. More in-depth and complementary studies on other archaeological sites and on geological formations would allow a reconstruction of the modalities of circulation of these objects and raw materials as well as highlighting systems of exchange parallel to obsidian and pottery during the Early
Chalcolithic in Central Anatolia and beyond.
This paper would have been impossible without the support and advice of numerous people from the Çatalhöyük Research Project and the Museum National d’Histoire naturelle. In particular I acknowledge the support of my PhD director François Fröhlich, my tutor Aïcha Badou, Prof. Ian Hodder and Shahina Farid, the
Çatalhöyük West Mound people (Peter F. Biehl, Eva Rosenstock and Jana Rogasch) and my colleagues on the Chipped Stone team: Nurcan Kayacan, Marcin Waş, Danica Mihailović, Adam
Nazaroff, Marina Milić, Tristan Carter and Lilian Dogiama. I would like to acknowledge also the Society of Amis du Museum for funding support during my PhD and Korhan Erturaç for his support during field work.
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Figuring Out the Figurines:
Towards the interpretation of Neolithic corporeality in the
Republic of Macedonia
Ss. Cyril and Methodius University (University of Skopje,
Macedonia), <[email protected]>
Neolithic figurines are often subject of keen discussions and debates between two main theoretical standpoints. The one side tends towards deification of the anthropomorphic figurines, whilst the other determines these artefacts as mediators in social relation among individuals and communities. Thus, the first group of researchers idolises the figurines as fertility symbols, whereas the others considerably profane their social function. This paper aims to explore these breaking points and from there on to develop multirelational interpretations towards the character of some Neolithic figurines. In this context figurines found in the settlements from the Republic of Macedonia will be used for further observations.
Particular cases associated with medieval and contemporary visual culture, as well as recent gender ritual issues will be proposed for thorough understanding of the body representations.
Research on prehistoric figurines followed various approaches and methods, and suggested various interpretations for their function and meaning. Some are associated with traditional elaboration of body representations while others propose more thorough anthropological consideration of social and symbolic components incorporated within figurines. This paper will include several methodological directions, and will attempt to make the subject more tangible through emphasis of certain features and use of these complex objects. On one hand, the domination of female figurines and accentuation of particular body parts will be addressed, while on the other, more anthropological observations will be proposed regarding their corporeality, gender and fragmentation. For more detailed observation, several case studies from the Republic of Macedonia
(Macedonia) will be used. These studies consider Neolithic figurines from Pelagonia, Ovče Pole and the Skopje Valley, together with ethnographic and historical data from these and neighbouring areas.
A History of collision
Neolithic figurines have always raised particular interest and attention among archaeologists and researchers of the Neolithic visual culture, corporeality and religious forms. In an attempt to understand their appearance and significance, there have been, in recent decades, many hypotheses concentrating on what and whom the figurines represented, as well as on motives for their use. In addition, there were numerous analogies which relate these objects to approachable ethnographic material, psychological background and the cognitive basis of ancient people, or even with the contemporary perception of the human body and its aesthetics. Consequently, in trying to interpret the figurines from their own perspective, two basic academic groups evolved.
On the one hand there were ‘traditionalists’ trying to ‘deify’ the figurines, including them in pantheons which had their own deities and epiphanies, manifested through the Neolithic figurines (Figure 1). Thus, figurines were gradually classified according to interpretations such as Great Mother, Mother
Earth, Bear Mother, Birth-giving Mother, Bird Goddess, and
Snake Goddess (Gimbutas 1982, 1989; Golan 2003; James 1959;
Mellaart 1967; Neumann 1963). Moreover, this concept started to be generalised, so that all feminine representations were generally identified with goddesses or Great Mothers without examination, or consideration of the possibility that they could belong to other supernatural beings or individuals.
This foundation led to all figurines from the Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age being included within the same context of interpretations, proposing that they were forerunner representations of the classical feminine goddesses. An uninterrupted divine link was thus created and remained unchanged for 35,000 years, existing in a certain form through the Classical Period until the Middle Ages, using the characters of Gaea, Hera, Demeter, Cybele or the Virgin Mary. This academic identification of prehistoric female representation was established in the 19th century when miniature figurines were considered visual and cognitive announcements for the later
Near Eastern and Mediterranean goddesses. Soon afterwards, an additional theoretical milieu was proposed which explained the Neolithic as a matriarchal society and provided a justification for the large production of female figurines (Gimbutas 1982;
James 1959). One of the first proponents for the so called
‘mother right’ or matriarchate in prehistory was Johann Jacob
Bachofen, who had a significant influence on sociologists, psychologists, historians and archaeologists (Bemberdjer 2003;
Georgudi 2011). His theoretical platform was overwhelmingly employed in the 20th century among various academicians who proposed different methods of support. The social theories and archaeological data stimulated Erich Neumann, one of the most influential psychologists of the mid-20th century, to develop his idea of The Great Mother as the universal deity worshiped among various cultures from prehistory until modern times (Neumann
1963). This work in turn impacted a newly established feministic wave which was in quest of multidisciplinary arguments for a social domination of women in the past. This branch of feminists and those of the ‘goddess movement’ believed that societies worshiping the Great Mother were practicing matriarchate and that figurines represent this social system. Considering the enormous quantity of archaeological data interpreted in favour of these hypotheses, such academic movement stirred speculative interpretations and promoted its proponents.
One of the most prominent apostles of second wave feminism, endorsing figurines as Mother Goddesses, was Maria Gimbutas, a name which simultaneously evokes adoration and harshness among feminists and archaeologists. As one of the loudest proponents of the ‘goddesses’ academic stream, her hypotheses were followed by numerous archaeologists trying to adjust her models to their case studies. Additionally, due to her popularity
Goce Naumov, Figuring out the Figurines | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Gimbutas was often referenced during disputes regarding the
‘goddesses’ approach in archaeology, and her work frequently criticised. Although previously Gordon W. Childe, Arthur Evans and James Mellaart had a similar approach when interpreting figurines as Mother Goddesses, no one was so rigorously observed as Gimbutas. Her name frequently appeared in the titles and text of papers of other archaeologists who were concerned by her archaeological approach and its effects (Biehl 1997; Meskell
1995;Talalay 1994). As a reaction to the interpretations of
Neolithic figurines as goddesses, numerous researchers emerged and attempted to respond with a more systematic approach, as well as adding their own observations on the significance of the figurines. These archaeologists pushed aside any possibility that the figurines were related to deities, and almost completely denied all the attributes previously applied, especially those associated with fertility. Consequently, the academic perception of the figurines started again from the beginning, completely ignored the earlier attempts of their definition and concentrated on new details which offered a completely different source of information (Bailey 2005; Biehl 1996; Handsman 1991; Hansen
2007; Hardie 2007; Talalay 1993).
One of the first to oppose the ‘divine’ elements of prehistoric figurines was Peter Ucko who proposed new perspectives for observing and understanding figurines. Besides his criticism of
Mother Goddess hypotheses, he presented various models for a systematic approach towards figurines including concerning more thorough analysis of their look, context, and also of the ethnographic and historic information associated with similar material culture (Ucko 1962, 1968). Although he was against direct analogies of ethnographic evidence to archaeological context, he found various examples with human body representations as motivation for the broader understanding of prehistoric figurines. The Neolithic anthropomorphic miniatures were not only seen as religious devices, but also as dolls which can have didactic features or can be employed in various rituals in connection with initiation or magic. However, aside from
Andrew Fleming’s (1969) paper his ideas were not supported by the archaeologists focused on figurines in the following
1970s and 1980s, the majority of whom still explained them as goddesses or idols.
The first loud reaction against the traditional interpretation of figurines occurred immediately after the death of Gimbutas in
1994. In the same and following year a number of papers by
Lauren Talalay (1994), Lynn Meskell (1995), Margaret Conkey and Ruth Tringham (1995) and Randi and Gunar Haaland (1995) appeared criticising both Gimbutas and the ‘goddesses’. In the following decades, more papers were published addressing the same problem and promoting new directions of figurine research
(Biehl 1997; Joyce 2003; Knapp and Meskell 1997; Lesure 2002;
Meskell 1998; Tringham and Conkey 1998; Ucko 1996). From today’s perspective, the period from the middle of 1990s until the first half of 2000s was most crucial for significant changes to archaeologists’ approaches towards figurines. As early as the
1990s there were new perspectives in figurine research (Bailey
1994; Joyce 1993; Skeates 1994; Talalay 1993), however these only received more attention and support after the publication of the aforementioned works criticising the ‘goddesses’ movement in archaeology and figurine interpretation. Gradually, new theories were developed claiming that Neolithic figurines instead embodied ideas of ‘people for the people’, suggesting they explain the way individuals perceived themselves and their own bodies (Figure 1). These theories include figurines as part
Figure 1: The two directions of figurines interpretations (created by author)
of the Neolithic visual dynamics and as agents in the complex symbolic communication among individuals and between the communities of one or several regions. In this case, the accent was on corporeality which transmits messages and ideas among social groups, and where figurines are involved as a medium.
The spectrum of figurine understanding was significantly broadened from 1990 and various observations were proposed regarding their significance or use. No longer were figurines interpreted as goddesses or idols, but as individuals, ancestors, dolls, toys, effigies, sex objects or contract devices. Regarding the ethnographic cases, such wide employment of miniature human representations is possible and therefore upheld, but the ethnographic analogies are still questioned and not always accepted. Nevertheless, these works raised new issues not previously considered in regards to the figurines, such as gender, identity, agency, personhood, fragmentation or corporeality
(Bailey 2005; Chapman 2000; Hamilton et al. 1996; Hansen 2007;
Joyce 2000; Robb 2008). The anthropological oriented research of figurines stimulated broadening of horizons and incorporated various social and symbolic components associated with the human body. However, besides the progressive and thought provoking approach, there were not many convincing arguments on the figurines’ meaning and significance. Although these important and scientifically restrained interpretations attempted to define the proper significance of the Neolithic corporeal representations, they still did not offer the most elementary answers to: (i) what and whom the figurines represent; (ii) what was the motive for them to be modelled with definite iconographic features; and finally (iii) what was their actual use?
In some way, although profound and tenable, recent theories are not more convincing than those endorsing deities and idols, as while the so-called ‘traditionalists’ could not offer substantive arguments for Neolithic figurines as religious devices promoting fertility neither could the post-processualists confirm that they were strictly associated with personhood and individualism.
Both theoretical groups attempted to assert the significance and exceptional character of the figurines. In their own periods when such totally different approaches were proposed, they were in line with the current anthropological and social theoretical processes, however, from our perspective nowadays it is easy to be critical
Original research paper
towards previous theoretical streams in archaeology without understanding the primary context of their emergence and era.
The essence of each theoretical course can be extracted and tested or modified through recent data and epistemological concepts.
Therefore two main perspectives will be addressed concerning the prevalence of female figurines and body accentuations, as well as anthropological aspects of corporeality, gender and fragmentation. They will be further supported with case studies from Macedonia including figurines from particular Neolithic settlements, but also medieval frescoes and contemporary rural rituals.
Why are there so many female figurines?
Besides agriculture, husbandry, stockbreeding, pottery and solid dwellings, the Neolithic in the Balkans introduced figurines as well. Although figurines on the European continent were produced in the Upper Palaeolithic, they were not part of the symbolic engagement of communities inhabiting the Balkan
Peninsula (McDermott 1996; Soffer et al. 2000; White 2006). In fact, Palaeolithic figurines were common in the area comprising
Austria, Slovakia, Italy, France and Germany, which area later in the Neolithic would be associated with the absence or scarcity of human representations in clay. With the introduction of farming, southeast Europe became a focal point for the symbolic incorporation of body images with thousands of figurines and various anthropomorphic artefacts produced since the Early
Neolithic. The body appeared to be important for the first agricultural communities in the Balkans and besides numerous miniature figurines entire human bodies or particular parts were represented on, or integrated within, vessels, house and oven models, ‘altars’ or stamps. Such variety of mediums for incorporation of human representations suggests that more complex processes were associated with the body than mere portrayal. Anthropomorphism and the hybrid relationship of bodies with dwellings and households were essential visual and symbolic principles involving corporeality as a major metaphor for explaining the new Neolithic man-made environment
(Naumov 2010a). Typically, such symbolic bodies were mainly female.
There are many discussions on the representation of sex among
Neolithic figurines and other anthropomorphic objects. The majority of archaeologists agree that most of the figurines with determined sex are female. There are, however, also a number of those archaeologists who question the methods of sex determination and propose that Neolithic societies preferred sexless body representations (Nakamura and Meskell 2009;
Nanoglou 2006; Ucko 1962). There is constant discussion on gender issues regarding prehistoric figurines and the determination of their sex (Bailey 1994, 2005; Biehl 1999;
Bolger 2003; Handsman 1991; Hardie 2007; Joyce 2003; Knapp and Meskell 1997; Lesure 2002; Meskell 2001; Nakamura and
Meskell 2009). These observations are worth considering and should be incorporated within future research, but the statistics and ratios of Balkan figurines still confirm the prevalence of female representations. Various case studies associated with figurines verify that sexless figurines outnumber those with apparent male or female genitalia. Besides the genitals there are further attributes which designate sex among Neolithic figurines. Several authors propose the presence of secondary gender features consisting of breasts, buttocks, belly, hand position and deliberate fragmentation which only appear to be present in female figurines (Lesure 2011; Naumov 2009a). In the Balkans there are almost no male representations with such features. The male figurines from various Neolithic settlements mainly consist of upright or seated bodies without breasts, large buttocks, bulged abdomens, hands positioned on torso or traits of deliberate fragmentation of the head and legs. As it will be explained below, various case studies confirm these ratios and propose more thorough observation within Neolithic gender issues.
It can be suggested for the Balkans that female figurines prevail whenever there are sexually determined human representations.
It should be also considered that for the majority of sites figurines are indeed sexless, displaying no primary or secondary sexual features. Such ratio opens the discussion as to whether these figurines actually represent sexless bodies or rather were portrayals of female or male characters without asserting their sex or gender. Anthropological approaches in figurine research introduce a wide range of possibilities for such representations regarding the third gender or uninitiated children (Hollimon
1997; Meskell 2001; Naumov 2014). Although thoughtprovoking, these observations are difficult to prove. Therefore, figurines with apparent primary or secondary sexual features are more suitable for gender determination and the vast majority of them are female representations. Therefore, it should be reconsidered why there is a prevalence of female representations in the Balkan Neolithic. This question stimulated a variety of controversial answers supporting the grand narrative and universalistic approach, as well as a stream of archaeologists who tried to deny that female figurines outnumbered the male.
The mixture of ideas, statements and hypotheses associated with figurines’ meanings stimulated many archaeologists to approach with their own understanding of this prehistoric visual phenomenon. One of these archaeologists was Noel Morss who dealt with female figurines in the American southwest, but who attempted to apply the universalist model to all prehistoric figurines in the world. Moss considered that female figurines equated with fertility and they appeared with the introduction of agriculture and the human use of clay (Morss 1954). Although his observations were based on the more modest data available in the period of his work, there are numerous arguments not supporting his thesis. Namely, female figurines are also common for communities which do not practice agriculture such as those of the European Upper Palaeolithic or the Early Jomon period in Japan (Figure 2). In both cases clay was used for modelling human representations among foragers and the images represented both corpulent females and asexual stylised bodies with reduced corporal features. After Ucko’s paper and book
(1962, 1968), many archaeologists found ethnographic evidence that female figurines are not always associated with fertility, but often engaged in didactic processes, initiation rituals and magic
(Lesure 2011; Talalay 1993). Although progressive in its own time, from today’s perspective Morss’ thesis can no longer be applied to all female figurines as they can have various meanings and employment.
Consequently, many authors proposed alternative theories on the prevalence of female figurines. Although more thorough than
Morss’ approach they are not much more convincing, yet still provide new horizons in figurine research and understanding of particular gender phenomena. Some suggest more social background for asserted femaleness in the Neolithic, such as the relationship of particular female individuals with (re)productive
Goce Naumov, Figuring out the Figurines | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Figure 2: The distribution of prehistoric figurines (after Lesure 2011: Figure 4)
labour and political contests over power, while others consider corporal factors, climatic condition and constant exposure of the female body to biological threat in periods of pregnancy or harsh seasons (Bailey 2005; Bolger 2003; Joyce 2003; Lesure
2011; Voigt 2000). One of the recent interpretations for the large quantity of female figurines was inspired by the author’s observation of self-representation among the Upper Palaeolithic figurines (McDermott 1996). According to McDermott, women in Palaeolithic societies produced images of themselves which represent the point of view of those who modelled or carved them. Even though his interpretation was critically questioned in the meticulous comments following the paper, it had significant influence on archaeologists focused on female representations in the Neolithic. They also considered such figurines as selfrepresentation of women, but incorporated more social aspects within, associated with silenced and oppressed groups in the
Neolithic societies (Bailey 2005).Apart from the interesting standpoints of these theoretical perspectives, none of them were compelling and grasped as major episteme for the figurine interpretation.
Probably the most influential hypothesis, although currently rejected by many, was that proposed by Etiene Renaud who suggested that all female figurines were goddesses (Renaud
1929).Similar to Morss’ practice, he explored figurines from the American southwest and afterwards promoted his idea of the divine character of prehistoric femaleness. Along with the Bachofen matriarchy model (Bemberdjer 2003), his idea had an explosive worldwide effect and attracted numerous archaeologists who started to identify figurines in their contexts as divinities. In line with Renaud’s interpretation, if the Neolithic was a matriarchal society it was rational that its pantheon consisted of female deities and the numerous female figurines therefore represented these deities. Followed by highly esteemed scholars such as Evans, James, Mellaart and
Gimbutas, this universalist perspective had enormous impact in archaeology and its effects are easy to notice even among current practitioners. Although such an idea is today mainly abandoned, it is worth further academic attention in order to be more thoroughly reconsidered or entirely ignored. At present there is not one solid argument that the Neolithic figurines are not representations of deities, except for the ethnographic cases regarding the multifunctional character of human images and the abstract theoretical alternatives associated with identity, gender, sexuality, embodiment or politics. On the other hand, not a single fact was contributed confirming the employment of figurines as goddesses or their association with religion and eventual pantheon.
Further examination is therefore necessary in order to provide a more thorough insight into figurine relationship with beliefs, religion or any other social and symbolic processes within
Neolithic communities. In this paper two main connections between figurines, femaleness and corporeality are proposed.
Primarily, this is a more anthropological approach considering three various asynchronous cases regarding female images, visual propaganda and ritual acts involving women, but not associated with female images. Additionally, several case studies of figurines from Neolithic settlements in Macedonia are discussed in order to assert that femaleness could be a local manifestation not promoted or practiced by all societies, even in neighbouring regions.
Asynchronous consideration of female images
Archaeologists often incorporate ethnographical cases in order to better understand the significance and meaning of figurines.
Since the approach of directed analogies was considered problematic, many criticised the relevance of interpretative relationships between prehistoric and 20th century tribal societies
(Ucko 1962). In the 1990s a new generation of archaeologists became more oriented towards anthropological and social theory and attempted to interpret the figurines through gender issues, corporeality, embodiment, agency, identity or sexuality
(Bailey 1994; Joyce 2005; Marcus 1996; Meskell 1998; Robb
Original research paper
Figure 3: Map of the Balkans with indicated position of the Republic of
Macedonia (created by author)
2007). Although this approach did not provide exact answers as to whom the figurines represented, it broadened the directions of exploring the human representations in the past. Soon it became apparent that the body is a much more complex platform for social and symbolic processes and that it can be observed through various perspectives. Therefore, in this paper three different cases of female body representations and engagements, including contemporary commercial visual culture, medieval frescoes and traditional rural rituals in Macedonia (Figure 3), are discussed in order to assert that femaleness could be both a manipulated and an invisible concept associated with propaganda or intimate rituals. These cases are related with different periods and consider diverse mediums and scenes in the exposition of the female body. In such contexts, the bodies of profane or sacred individuals confirm that representations could be associated with a range of engagements and meanings in the same period and even on the same image. Such asynchronous cases are set in relationship with the aforementioned discussions on Neolithic female representations and their prevalence, visualisation, ambiguity and particularity of context. It becomes apparent that goddesses and housemaids or priestesses and photo models could be represented and involved in the same social structure promoted or invisible within material culture.
Contemporary advertising visual culture
Within Macedonia, and indeed through the whole of Europe, advertising occupies a huge percentage of modern media space.
Furthermore, regardless of the media type (including television, radio, magazines, posters or shop windows), the female body is dominantly present. In the context of this paper, static visual media would be of special interest, in which the images are not movable but mostly concentrated on just one fixed ‘portrayal’, such as with Neolithic figurines. Thus, if the most popular magazines or billboards in cities were analysed, it could be determined that attractive female bodies are placed mainly in the foreground – the choreography suggesting the quality of the product or the idea being promoted. These images also attest to the aesthetical parameters of how the media believes a 21st century woman should look and the ideals which can be suggested through the female body. Considering that billboards and magazines are currently the most employed static visual media, in some way they become contemporary material culture in which the human body is displayed as an image. If such material culture is analysed, an anthropologist or future archaeologist would have a glimpse into a desired and partly manipulated female body very different to one which is symbolically incorporated in rituals or religion.
On the contrary, the actual and real symbolic engagement of the body in 21st century Macedonia is quite different – indeed even almost unregistered in the above-mentioned media. Namely, a huge number of women are engaged in activities that do not have any visual manifestations in the popular media, and, due to their uniqueness, sometimes even acquire a partly esoteric character. In line with the aforementioned relationship between figurines and fertility, of special interest are rituals concerned with women who could not have children. These individuals, by visiting particular sacred locations (most often rocks, caves, stones, waterfalls), perform certain activities in the hope that conception might result for the participants (Vražinovski 1999,
2000). These rituals are practiced by many generations and still involve women from both villages and cities. On particular days in the year they visit the event locations far from settlements, along with their husbands or relatives. During these apparent fertility rituals there is no single female image or item (material culture) present which asserts the fertility or a deity associated with the ritual. These two examples of advertising visual culture and esoteric female ritual indicates that prevailing images of women can be promotional and that fertility rituals do not always require the support of female images. Even though not related to
Neolithic social context, these contemporary cases support the idea that the female body can be employed in various modes and settings in a single society.
The next case study describes the symbolic engagement of female body within a religious unit which involves various represented characters of women. Such visual representations are painted on the frescoes of numerous medieval churches in Macedonia, where on certain fresco zones and particular areas of the church, women (saints) and ktitors (sponsors)are both represented
(Miljković-Pepek 1971; Radojčić 1964). These painted scenes are mainly of: (i) Virgin Mary – as the ‘supreme’ mother; (ii) an accompanying women painted in the secular scenes who represents the life of some saint to whom the church is dedicated;
Figure 4: Medieval fresco with female saints at St. George, Kurbinovo
(Grozdanov and Haderman Misguich 1992: Figure 27)
Goce Naumov, Figuring out the Figurines | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
(iii) women-martyrs who are credited for helping to preserve
Christianity, and (iv) ktitors (sponsors), wealthy women who, together with their husbands, financed the building and fresco paintings of the church (Figure 4). It is important to note that most of the represented women have visual similarities and that they do not significantly differ except by the clothes or their presence in particular scenes.
If it is considered that a church comprises one spatial and religious unit, most of the represented characters are associated with a particular visual and symbolic narrative. Most of the characters are related to the New Testament, some are historical individuals related with Christianity and there are also imaginary people who are set within scenes in order to support the dramatic and descriptive character of the painted scenes. Such visual units indicate that various characters with quite similar outlook could belong to different categories of individuals or saints. Although painted on a single wall, some of these women are servants, peasants, mistresses, royals, martyrs, saints or a supreme religious character such as Virgin Mary. Most of them are represented once in the entire church, but some are repeated on various scenes within fresco paintings (Djurić 1974; Grabar
1982). If compared with Neolithic figurines, such a case confirms that similarly represented female individuals in a single visual micro-unit can depict different characters with diverse historical or religious functions and significance. From that perspective the female figurines with unified features unearthed in particular local context, could be associated with goddesses and other mythical characters, or equally as easily with actual women.
Material culture in recent rural settlements
Besides the tangible religious units where the female body is variously incorporated, there are also other domains of social and symbolic engagement where the female body had a significant role, which is not visible or asserted through actual portrayals. Some of the most interesting cases for anthropological research by Balkan ethnologists are villages from the 19th and
20th century across the whole territory of Macedonia. From the numerous ethnographic data it could be concluded that populations inhabiting the villages in this period did not produce explicit, detailed representations of the female body, in contrast with the Neolithic figurines or medieval saints (Naumov 2006).
It is important to stress that these villages were Christianised and maintained this tradition, but they simultaneously practiced their ancient traditional rites which were different from the church standards and official religious ethics.
In the beginning of the 20th century, Macedonians and other
Balkan populations used a huge quantity of pottery for everyday purposes, and also for rituals associated with wedding, burials and agriculture. They did not produce any figurines of clay except on extremely rare occasions (Chausidis and Nikolov 2006).
Everything within the domain of figurative body representation was under the auspice and control of the Christian church, so that the families in their homes had few icons. Still, the symbolic corporeal components were transposed onto utilitarian material culture and rites that do not employ human representations.
Thus, the language and ritual choreography should be asserted as being the most suitable media for manifestation of the symbolic corporeal aspects – especially the ones which include female bodies. Namely, numerous vessels and objects which were partly involved in rituals were referred to with terms related to certain parts of the female body or with women who were high-ranked in the hierarchy within families. Thus, some vessels were named
in relation to pelvis or uterus, the regenerative area, or signified certain feminine social categories (Chausidis and Nikolov 2006;
Naumov 2008a). Even when bread was ritually prepared the objects used for its decoration were named as ‘sister-in-law’, while the loaf was referred to as dolls or grandmothers (Krstevska
2005; Naumov 2008b; Petrović 1996).
The majority of female corporeal concepts, however, are preserved at the level of ritual choreography and numerous activities related to weddings – often concentrated on the bride and especially on the mother-in-law (Malešević 1995; Petreska
2001). Everything that symbolically enhanced the female body was focused in the domain of domestic rituals without leaving noticeable traces in the material culture. Referring back again to
Neolithic societies, miniature figurines could be only a portion of the entire symbolic mechanism involving the female body.
Besides its incorporation into acts not tangible to us, the body
(especially that of women) was a central metaphor among first agricultural communities inhabiting Macedonia and the Balkans in general. Vessels, house and oven models, ‘altars’ and stamps were modelled with apparent female features (genitalia, breasts, pregnant belly or enlarged buttocks), although the majority were sexless (Naumov 2009a). The prevalence of the female body, associated not only with figurines, but with various embodied items as well, could be a result of the significant ritual status of the women or their engagement in the household activities. In that context, material culture with human representations is not always connected with deities, but can also be associated with common people and their needs, struggles, negotiations and notions.
The three asynchronous cases from one region, the Republic of
Macedonia, support the idea that there is no single interpretation of anthropomorphic images, neither in a particular area, nor in a specific time. In various settings within a single community the body can be employed in diverse modes, as it can have different associations in one visual unit. The images of bodies can be both representation of deities that people worshiped, but also of women they respected. Therefore is not whom these figurines represented, but what they represent that is significant. Their meanings can be solid or vary even in a single community, but their appearance and context provide much more information on how they were used and what their purpose was in both the social and symbolic spheres. In order to understand such characteristics of embodied material culture, a short overview of figurine production in particular local settings is necessary and especially of those unearthed from several Neolithic settlements in Macedonia.
Neolithic corporeality in the Republic of
Figurines are found in almost all Neolithic sites in Macedonia
(Figure 5). Compared with pottery findings their number is quite small, but they are still able to provide information for particular visual and symbolic principles associated with the human body.
How many figurines are recovered from an excavation, and also how many of these are published, depends on the modes, methods and scale of excavated sites and the extent of publications related with these sites (Naumov 2014). For that reason, the majority of the figurines remains unpublished in museums depots and is not familiar to anyone other than the excavators. There are, however, several recent case studies that introduce these artefacts into the archaeological discourse (Naumov and Chausidis 2011; Naumov
Original research paper
Figure 6: The total number of published figurines and their gender ratio
(diagram by author)
1996; Chapman 2000; Gaydarska et al. 2007; Gheorghiu 2001;
Figure 5: Map of the Republic of Macedonia with the sites and regions mentioned in text (created by author)
2014, in press). This allows for a more balanced study that is not subject to the bias of publication practices, which favour gendered figurines.
Neolithic figurines in Macedonia rarely attract particular attention for detailed study, although they were constantly promoted in short excavation reports and museum catalogues as some of the most outstanding artefacts in Macedonia (Garašanin et al. 1976; Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005; Simoska and Sanev 1976).
There were only few authors partially focusing their work on
Macedonian figurines (Gimbutas 1976a; Korošec 1954; Srejović
1968), although the interest is significantly changed in the last decades (Karpuzova 2007; Naumov 2009a, 2009b, 2010, 2011,
2014, in press; Sanev 2006; Temelkoski and Mitkoski 2001).
Recent publications provide new data for the Neolithic figurines which were unearthed from 1950s to 2000s in the Skopje Valley,
Pelagonia, Ovče Pole and Polog, all of which are regions in
Macedonia (Figure 5). The remaining part of the paper will be focused on both general overview and case studies in order to explore two main and not always common directions of figurine research.
These visual features reflect the figurines’ purpose, but are also associated with the characters represented by them. The specific modelling and repetition of particular features suggests a tradition in figurine production which is associated with their possible function or the characters they represent. Small breasts, big buttocks, hands positioned on the torso, as well as their fragmentation is common for the figurines from many
Neolithic sites from the Early to Late Neolithic. These features can be considered as general regional characteristics constantly associated with female figurines, although there are cases where only some of these features are present (Naumov 2009a). As will be more thoroughly discussed below, only a few figurines from Pelagonia and only one from Skopje Valley have a bulged belly with the hands positioned on it, a form which clearly indicates pregnancy (Figure 7). All the others do not have hands associated with the torso or an accented abdomen. Of particular importance are small breasts which suggest that represented characters are not pregnant women, but probably female individuals who already had children. It could be proposed that these were representations of young or mature individuals; women whose biological changes as well as their position in the community were altering their social status. In that context the figurines were probably broken and deliberately fragmented during the rites of passage, when a woman passes from one social category to another (Naumov 2009a). Despite numerous figurines which do not share the same features, these could be associated with womanhood, sexuality, birth giving and other biological processes common for the female individuals.
Regarding the Neolithic figurines, certain visual and typological features should be noted in order to define corporeality.
Considering the figurines found in Macedonia, it should be pointed out that most of those with determined sexual features are figurines of female individuals (Figure 6). From 289 published figurines from this region, for 137 the gender was determined; this includes 128 figurines with feminine genitalia, nine with those of a male and three that bear genitalia of both sexes (Naumov 2014). Therefore, the dominant presence of the female figurines in Neolithic Macedonia should be considered, as well as certain important details modelled on their bodies; namely that most of the female figurines have small applied breasts and wide modelled buttocks (Figure 7). The position of the hands is often directed on the breast, abdomen and genitalia or hips. On the majority of the miniatures, the face almost never has details. It is also worth emphasising that numerous examples are intentionally modelled in order to be fragmented, mostly where the head is attached or the legs are joined (Naumov
2009a).It might seem unusual, but the deliberate fragmentation of figurines is common practice for the Neolithic Balkans and several discussions and hypotheses have been proposed (Biehl
Crucial changes in women’s bodies are frequently manifested in the aforementioned rural ritual practices, although they cannot be used as direct evidence for the functions and
Figure 7: Neolithic figurines from: 1. Velushka Tumba – height 6.0cm
(Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005: Figure 3); 2.Madjari – height 6.8cm (Sanev
2006: Figure 11); 3. Grgur Tumba – height 5.5cm (Kolištrkoska Nasteva
2005: Figure 3)
Goce Naumov, Figuring out the Figurines | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
purposes of Neolithic figurines. In some parts of Macedonia, the mature woman changing her status into mother-in-law has an especially important role in the rituals that follow this shift of status. In addition, control over essential segments of the house is accentuated, as well as the finalisation of the regenerative potential and confirmation of the realised birthgiving functions, which are manifested by providing descendants in the family. During the performance of these rites, the motherin-law transposes her regenerative potential to the bride, but also emphasises her domination over certain members of the small community. This ritual choreography is followed by the symbolic imitation, such as the ‘decapitation’ of the mother-in-law or with asserting the genital area and buttocks as crucial parts confirming reproduction (Malešević 1995; Petreska 2001, 2002). The acts within this ritual, as well as its significance for rural societies, resemble the features and practices associated with figurine appearance and fragmentation. Surely, such ethnographic examples can be used only to broaden horizons of possible symbolic women engagements in the Neolithic, although the figurines could be employed and understood entirely differently by those who produced, used or only perceived them.
Therefore, despite the general observation and interpretation of figurines from Macedonia, more thorough insight into their local features is proposed in order to confirm that figurines did not have singular functions, meanings and purposes. The case studies from several sites in Pelagonia, the Skopje Valley and Ovče Pole are discussed which clearly indicate various preferences towards human representations in the Neolithic. Such cases would be further used to propose more complex social incorporation of figurines within the visual manifestation of local identities of communities inhabiting particular regions.
Although figurine production in Macedonia is often seen in a wider geographical framework, case studies of particular areas and sites provides a much better understanding of the local preferences. Although some of the visual and symbolic principles employed throughout the human body are the same as those implied within general perspectives, the figurine analysis of each site asserts variations which significantly differ from the previous research approach towards Neolithic corporeality in
Macedonia. Four case studies are considered to assert this point and based on published (the Amzabegovo and Porodin case studies) and unpublished data (Govrlevo and Zelenikovo). They consist of sites from three different regions (Pelagonia, Ovče
Pole and Skopje Valley), with Govrlevo and Zelenikovo being neighbouring settlements (Figure 8).
Amzabegovo is probably one of the best known and published
Neolithic sites in Macedonia. Excavated by several teams in the
1960s, it provided significant information on the establishment of the first agricultural settlements in Ovče Pole and their existence throughout the remaining Neolithic phases (Gimbutas 1976b;
Korošec and Korošec 1973; Sanev 2009). There are speculative interpretations of the Amzabegovo figurines, and they are properly documented, so that a well-grounded elaboration of body representations could be performed (Gimbutas 1976a).
According to the excavators of the site, 54 figurines in total have been are excavated during several research seasons – both the
Korošec and Gimbutas excavations–, but only 43 are documented in detail (Figure 8).Only two figurines were found in the earliest levels of the settlement (Early Neolithic) while the majority date from the Middle and Late Neolithic (Figure 9). Although the sex
Figure 8: The total number of published figurines from Amzabegovo and Porodin, and the number of figurines unearthed in Govrlevo and
of half of the figurines cannot be determined, most (19) of the remainder are sexless representations, seven are female and there is not a single artefact with apparent male features. Statistical data therefore indicate that the sexless figurines outnumber those of female and male, which is opposite to the general scale of figurines from Macedonia. Also it is worth noting that most of the figurines in Amzabegovo appear when the intramural burials, especially of infants and young individuals, decrease
(Naumov 2013; Nemeskéry and Lengyel 1976). This suggests that the majority of figurines emerge as exchange to Early
Neolithic burial practices, so that the focus on the symbolic human body was transformed from ritual to representative in the Middle Neolithic. It could, therefore, be proposed that the sexless figurines are most likely in relationship with buried children, that is individuals who were not sexually determined until their initiation (Naumov 2014).These figurines could be also associated with ancestors, sexless human like beings or with those that represent third gendered characters. However, for this particular case the funerary data and deposition of figurines in pits supports the idea for their relationship with buried children.
The figurines from Porodin are entirely opposite to those from
Amzabegovo. Podrin is not published in detail (Grbićet al. 1960), but the monograph shows 32 figurines of which 20 are female representation. There are also three sexless figurines, one male, one hermaphrodite and the rest are small fragments whose sex cannot be determined (Figure 8). Although there is the possibility that only certain figurines were selected for the publications, it is evident that the majority of figurines with represented sex are female and are closely associated with formal characteristics observed on figurines from other Neolithic sites in Pelagonia. In
Porodin, as well as in Veluška Tumba, Mogila, Optičari, Grgur and other Pelagonian settlements, the figurines have corpulent
Figure 9: Anthropomorphic figurines from: 1. Amzabegovo – height
10.0cm (Korošec and Korošec 1973); 2. Porodin – height12.4 cm (Garašanin 1979)
Original research paper
Figure 10: Anthropomorphic figurines from: 1. Zelenikovo – height3.8cm
(photo by author); 2. Govrlevo – height 8.4cm (photograph by author)
Figure 11: Anthropomorphic house models from: 1. Madjari – height
39.0cm (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005: Figure 42); 2. Porodin – height
25.5cm (Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005: Figure 43); 3. Govrlevo – height
35.0cm (Chausidis 1995: Figure 6)
bodies which consist of large buttocks, bulged bellies and hands positioned on abdomen or genitalia (Figure 9). The figurine production in this region confirms that communities preferred the representation of sexuality, obesity and probably fertility among women which is contrary to the preferences in other regions, such as Ovče Pole and Skopje Valley (Naumov 2014).
The Neolithic settlements in the Skopje Valley provided numerous figurines embodying women or girls, but without accentuation of their sexuality, obesity and fertility as was the case in Pelagonia
(Figure 10). Several excavations in Zelenikovo (Galović 1964;
Garašanin and Bilbija 1988; Garašanin and Spasovska 1976;
Grbić 1954), provided 83 mostly unpublished figurines of which
42 are female, three male, 13 sexless (Figure 8),while the rest are fragments whose sex cannot be determined (Naumov in press). The gender ratio in Govrlevo is similar, seven female, one male and three sexless (Figure 8), although the total number of unearthed figurines is significantly smaller, 13 in total (Naumov in press). It is surprising that the community at Govrlevo, neighbouring and contemporary to Zelenikovo, produced such a small amount of figurines. Bias in data acquisition is excluded, since excavations in Govrlevo were very detailed (Bilbija 1986;
Fidanoski 2011, 2012; Fidanoski and Tomaž 2010; Georgiev and Bilbija 1984).It will be discussed below why such diverse practiced occurred in neighbouring communities, but it is noteworthy that both were focused on the female body. Of all figurines unearthed from Zelenikovo and Govrlevo, there are only two which have more corpulent buttocks, while there are none with indicated genitalia or hands positioned on the torso.
Although the Neolithic figurines from the Skopje Valley could comprise similar concepts as those in Pelagonia these miniatures have a much reduced exposure of the sexual or gender features.
The cases discussed confirm that the human representations do not always share the same preferences and most probably
manifest different individuals, characters or corporeal principles.
The communities in Ovče Pole tended to represent sexless bodies more frequently, which is confirmed among the figurines from Gorobinci and Tarinci, but published only partially in the excavation reports (Garašanin and Garašanin 1961; Sanev
1975). In spite of that, it appears that the Pelagonian inhabitants of Neolithic settlements concentrated on female bodies with enlarged buttocks, bellies, visible or covered genitalia, as well as on hands which are often positioned on the torso. In the Skopje
Valley, the majority of produced figurines also were of female bodies, but with the exclusion of one figurine from Madjari, none of them display gestures and they rarely depict enlarged buttocks and genitalia. Surely, further case studies from other sites are necessary in order to have a much better insight into gender preferences within figurines. The current results do provide a new glimpse into corporeal variety in the Neolithic of Macedonia and largely contrast with the previous general overviews of female figurines from this region (Karpuzova 2007;
Kolištrkoska Nasteva 2005; Sanev 2006).
Even in the domain of female body the Pelagonian and Skopje
Valley cases point out the apparent differences in accentuation of particular features and in the modes of their employment.
Namely, many of the female figurines in Zelenikovo are modelled in order to be easily fragmented, which is also confirmed on some miniatures from Govrlevo (Naumov in press). Although indication for fragmentation is noticed among Pelagonian figurines, a further in-depth analysis is necessary to understand their involvement in such symbolic practices. As previously mentioned, the fragmentation is currently confirmed only on female figurines which raises the question of the infrequency of male bodies among human representations. Both the general overview and the case studies confirmed the minimal presence of male figurines in Macedonia with only nine such artefacts known so far. It is unclear why male bodies are neglected even if interpretations for religious or social aspects of figurines are considered. Many cultures incorporate male gods in their religion, and many societies involve male individuals within visual processes and portrayed them as figurines, sculptures or monuments. The male population was surely as significant as the female in the Neolithic economy and social spheres, so that it remains to be determined why they are not more frequently present in visual culture.
In spite of that, male representations are significantly outnumbered by the female or sexless anthropomorphic objects.
This practice does not involve only figurines, but also other artefacts that represent the entire human body or of only some body parts, such as vessels, house and oven models, or ‘altars’ and stamps (Chausidis 2007, 2008, 2010; Naumov 2009a; Naumov and Chausidis 2011; Sanev 1988, 2006). These anthropomorphic hybrids rarely depict primary sexual features, yet frequently have breasts, protuberant stomachs or hands positioned on torso, which among the miniatures are considered as secondary female features (Figure 11). Therefore, it is more consistent to observe figurines in relation to these anthropomorphic hybrids as they are not only providing further information on represented gender, but also on the complex notion of the Neolithic corporeality.
These specific artefacts further indicate variety in human body representation and highlight the embodiment as crucial concept associated with anthropomorphs. That is to say, not all Neolithic communities in Macedonia were equally concentrated on the production of hybrids and miniatures. Recent research confirms that in some settlements anthropomorphic house models are
Goce Naumov, Figuring out the Figurines | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
much more often present than miniature figurines (Naumov and Chausidis 2011; Naumov 2014). For example, contrary to the small production of figurines (13), the population inhabiting
Govrlevo was mainly focused on anthropomorphic house models (159). Contrary to the situation at Gorvrlevo, Zelenikovo communities almost ignored hybrids, with only 12 artefacts found compared to the numerous miniatures, totalling 83, which were unearthed from the site (Naumov 2014, in press).
Such diversities associated with human representations clearly indicate that Neolithic communities were variously employing the body within symbolic processes and visual culture. The striking dissimilarities of miniature and hybrid production among neighbouring settlements, such as Govrlevo and Zelenikovo, as well as the local preferences towards female or sexless bodies in various regions, further involves figurines in the complex realm of identity manifestation through material culture. The study of the Early Neolithic pottery confirms the employment of different patterns painted among communities in the various regions of Macedonia (Naumov 2009c, 2010b). Considering the involvement of material culture within visual endorsement of identity, it cannot be excluded that anthropomorphic miniatures and hybrids were incorporated in such processes as well. The overall analyses of figurines and human representations in general provide numerous categories of data which demonstrates the complex incorporation of these objects in various symbolic and social processes. A further thorough examination of figurines through particular case studies and publishing of entire sets and contexts will contribute to a better understanding of Neolithic corporeality and its potentials in tracing the cognition and social processes within the first agricultural societies in Macedonia and the Balkans.
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Inert, Inanimate, Invaluable:
How stone artefact analyses have informed of Australia’s past
Graduate Diploma in Archaeology Student, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia,
This paper analyses the contribution of stone artefact studies, or
‘lithic analyses,’ to understandings about the Indigenous occupation of Australia. It explores their significance in informing about both the timing of initial colonisation and the nature of the subsequent spread of settlement. Lithic analyses are discussed as having been central in providing evidence for spatial and temporal occupation of regions around the country. A case study from the mid-Holocene is examined for its value in demonstrating a manner of response by Indigenous people to changing environmental conditions. Stone artefact studies are seen to inform valuably about past Indigenous lifestyles and an example from north Queensland outlines much about the nature of trade and exchange between groups. Specific approaches to the study of stone artefacts are examined, such as use-wear and residue analyses and a more anthropological perspective known as the chaîne opératoire.
Stone artefact studies have provided a vast amount of invaluable information about an extensive variety of aspects of the
Indigenous occupation of Australia. This paper examines seven key contributions. Firstly, these studies have valuably informed the central and continuing debate about the initial colonisation of Australia. Secondly, they have helped to demonstrate a vast range of temporal and spatial occupation of Indigenous groups, assisting understandings of related issues such as concerning the nature and spread of Indigenous occupation. Thirdly, analyses of stone artefacts (or ‘lithics’) have contributed to understandings about Indigenous Australians’ responses to changes in the environment and been central in correcting earlier notions of
Indigenous culture as having been static. Fourthly, they have informed about aspects of Indigenous Australians’ lifestyles such as methods of food procurement. Fifthly, analysis of fracture mechanics has helped archaeologists to develop increasingly sophisticated knowledge of and hypotheses regarding attributes of artefacts. Sixthly, lithic studies have provided understandings about the nature of movement, trade and exchange between
Indigenous groups, a case study herein involving Queensland and southern areas. Seventhly, this paper discusses some approaches themselves that have been used in the study of lithics because these have been largely determinative of the value and type of information able to be yielded. In particular it focusses on ‘use-wear’ and residue analyses of stone tools, along with a framework known as the chaîne opératoire.
Initial colonisation of Australia
While not yet being able to provide unequivocal answers concerning the precise timing of the human colonisation of
Australia, stone artefact studies like those of the Northern
Territory’s (NT) Malakunanja II, have contributed valuable indications. Malakunanja II has been put forth as the likely oldest date in Australia, at 50,000 years before present (bp)–
60,000 bp (Flood 2010:86, 91; Geneste et al. 2012:3; Roberts et al. 1990:153–156; Zazula 2000/2001:116,119). This was based primarily on dating the stone artefacts from the lowest level of the 260 cm deep trench and asserting the stratigraphic integrity along with support from thermoluminescence dating. Critics such as Roberts (1997:856), however, contend that these artefacts may have been subject to downward movement, thus discrediting their stratigraphic integrity, and a degree of imprecision also always exists (Bowdler 1996:38; Hiscock 2008:42–44) in thermoluminescence and other dating techniques which are subject to calibration resulting in potential deviations of several millennia. Malakunanja II has, however, a minimum antiquity of 45,000 bp, a date accepted by ‘all archaeologists’ (Hiscock
2008:44; supported by Flood 2010:91), so in any case has provided a solid update to earlier twentieth century notions such as of colonisation occurring at 35,000 bp to 40,000 bp (Zazula
Stone artefacts from NT’s Nauwalabila rockshelter also provide dates which may indicate the oldest Indigenous settlement in
Australia. Support exists (Flood 2010:92) for the integrity of the stratigraphy in which the lowest artefacts were found and as such the Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) dates of
55,000 bp–60,000 bp. While some vertical movement may have occurred with artefacts above (Hiscock 2008:42), the lowest level at Nauwalabila was thick rubble and bedrock (Hiscock 2008:42;
O’Connell and Allen 2004:843), which may have been much harder for any downward moving artefacts to have penetrated.
Dates from this rubble layer were, however, based on what some
(eg. O’Connell and Allen 2004:843–846) regard as inconsistencies in the association between the artefacts, rubble and charcoal samples from it. Reluctance in accepting Nauwalabila’s antiquity also exists due to the possibility of post-depositional termite activity leading to downward artefact movement (O’Connell and
Temporal and spatial occupation
Despite dating difficulties, lithic studies have helped to demonstrate antiquities of occupation in regions across the continent, which has assisted in understandings of related issues. At Cuddie Springs in NSW stone artefacts were dated to around 36,000 bp (Field et al. 2008:101), which complemented studies of bones of megafaunal species to demonstrate at least several millennia of coexistence there. Combined with the lack of evidence for human hunting or butchery at the site over this period (Fillios et al. 2010:127), this helped to cast doubt on notions, in the intense debate, that humans hunted megafauna to extinction. The relatively quick spread of Indigenous occupation around Australia (Bowdler 1996:38) and that it occurred through inland regions in contrast to earlier coastal models (Bowdler
1977) has also been indicated by lithic analyses. At Devil’s Lair
Simon Munt, Inert, Inanimate, Invaluable | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Figure 2: An example of how an invasively backed blade may appear
(created by author)
Figure 1: Map of Australia showing some locations mentioned in the text
(created by author)
Map constructed by S. Munt in the far south-west of Western Australia (WA), despite a small number of artefacts existing, occupation is indicated at
41,000 bp–46,000 bp (O’Connell and Allen 2004:840–841) and stone artefacts and sediment at Allen’s Cave, in SA, provide a luminescence date reliably correspondent with the calibrated 14C date of approximately 40,000 bp (Roberts et al. 1996:7, 14–15).
In NSW, Lake Mungo’s stone artefacts and other archaeological evidence ‘unambiguously demonstrated a human presence at least 43,000–45,000 years ago’ (Hiscock 2008:43, supported by Zazula 2000/2001:114), even if pre 45,000 bp is uncertain
(O’Connell and Allen 2004:843). Central Australia’s Puritjarra rockshelter contained stone artefacts demonstrating first occupation, followed by periodical visitation, at approximately
35,000 bp and perhaps older (Smith et al. 1997:319).
Human-environment interaction: A mid-
Holocene case study
greatly to our understanding of the Indigenous occupation of Australia by testing the veracity of arguments made. White
(2011:67) cast doubt on the precision of the timing of the proliferation of backed blades and whether they were in fact more economical than the previous form of multifunctional tool, unretouched flakes (White 2011:68). This is a strong consideration, particularly given that a number of factors affect extents of reliability, such as availability and quality of raw materials in different regions. Blades, for example, were more effectively made from stone of greater quality but that was less abundant in Australia than quartz (Hallam 1985:228), whose flaking value, particularly in the form of effective conchoidal fracturing, is generally poor (Dickson 1977:97). More specific archaeological evidence inclusive of such considerations than that provided by Hiscock is needed to demonstrate that backed artefacts were more reliable than unretouched flakes. White also questions the legitimacy of the assumption that the mid-
Holocene climate changes represented increased risk, noting that the opposite has at times been the case (White 2011:68). He produces, however, no supporting archaeological evidence for the Australian situation.
After stone artefacts had not until the 1960s and 1970s been considered particularly useful for contributing to an understanding of the nature of Indigenous people’s interactions with their environment (Holdaway and Stern 2004:294), studies such as Hiscock’s (1994) proved highly valuable. His examination of stone artefacts used in the mid-Holocene period of relatively dramatic environmental change indicated that one of the main strategies of Indigenous people was to minimise risk by modifying their toolkit (Hiscock 1994:267–268, 283). As sea levels rose and the climate ameliorated (Mulvaney and Kamminga 1999:226)
Indigenous people also managed risk by becoming more mobile and seeking previously unsettled and unknown regions (Hiscock
1994:267). Hiscock (1994:277) contended that as such they needed their tools to be more portable, reliable, multi-functional and longer lasting and that this took the form of a proliferation of bifacial points and backed blades (Fig. 2) with an emphasis on hafting. This received support from some subsequent finds and analyses, such as of backed blades from Mussel Shelter in
NSW (Slack et al. 2004:135). Hiscock argued that the subsequent reduction in Indigenous people’s production of these tools in the late Holocene supported his contention in that it was a reflection of Indigenous people’s adaptation to the new environmental conditions and resultant lessening of risk (Hiscock 1994:281), aided by the climate stabilising (White 2011:69).
Criticisms of such conclusions as Hiscock’s have also contributed
Lithic analyses have informed about fundamental aspects of
Indigenous Australians’ lifestyles over time. Before around the
1930s very little (McCarthy 1976:94) was known about the way
Indigenous Australians had lived. Dogmatic notions of a largely primitive and static culture prevailed until recent decades, when studies revealed many changes in uses of stone tools over time
(Hiscock and Veth 1991). Colley (2002), for one, highlighted how Bondi points and pirri points were used at different times depending on environmental and economic circumstances.
Recent studies have informed how stone artefacts were ‘intimately linked’ to Indigenous people’s survival (Hiscock and Mitchell
1993:5). They demonstrate, for example, that raw materials were selectively sourced to make stone tools for different purposes
(Dickson 1981:15–17; Fullagar 1994:67), that tools like spears and spear throwers were used for hunting and adzes, tulas and scrapers were generally for woodworking (Holdaway and Stern
2004:230; McCarthy 1976:32). Axes ground to a sharp edge
(Dickson 1981:39) were used for chopping and butchering.
Grindstone technology was implemented for sharpening axes
(Dickson 1981:43) and spears (Hiscock and Mitchell 1993:31) and for processing material such as seeds (Fullagar 1994:65), to extract their carbohydrate value, and ochre, for pigment production (Dickson 1981:39). Experimental studies such as
ideas’ (Mulvaney 1975:110).
Approaches to analysis
Figure 3: A ‘typical’ (if there is such a thing) flake showing some characteristics mentioned in the text (created by author)
Dickson’s (1981:39) over fifteen years even demonstrated the typical dimensions of grooves in rock that resulted from uses such as axe grinding and ochre processing.
Understanding of production techniques
Resulting from a range of lithic studies, archaeologists’ increasing knowledge of techniques used by Indigenous Australians in stone tool production has led to greater accuracy in artefact identification and interpretation. McCarthy (1976) developed one of the first classification schemes, establishing an effective foundation of common terminology and understandings.
Seminal studies such as that by Cotterell and Kamminga (1987) contributed greatly to archaeologists’ understandings of fracture mechanics and general flake formation. This provided further fundamental knowledge of how Indigenous people flaked raw material and of resultant characteristics such as ring cracks, eraillure scars and various termination types (Fig. 3). Earlier misinterpretations have been corrected, such as that eraillure scars, a product of conchoidal fracture, were ‘thumb grips’
Trade: A north Queensland case study
Pioneering ethnographic work by Roth (1897), supported by several subsequent researchers of north Queensland (Qld)
Indigenous people, revealed much about the existence and nature of trade and exchange from there with people further south. Knives, spears and axes were among items traded along networks stretching hundreds of kilometres south to New South
Wales (NSW) and South Australia’s (SA) Lake Eyre basin, with
McBryde (1987:252–273) and McCarthy (1977:253) finding evidence of an axe trade from north Qld to Lake Eyre. Hiscock
(2005:287) and Tibbett (2006:30) also both concluded that axes in north Qld were produced for the purposes of trade. The existence of a large number of axe grinding groove sites in the region
(there are currently 220 known sites in all of Qld; DATSIMA
2013), containing thousands of axe grinding grooves, further attests to the significance of north Qld for the manufacture of edge ground axes. These axes themselves often being found significant distances from their raw material sources (Dickson
1981:15–17) supports notions of trade. At Rocks Crossing in north Qld 423 axe grinding grooves were found but no edge ground axes (Wallis 2004). McCarthy (1977:253–254) found evidence of detailed trade networks of grindstones themselves, throughout vast distances across regions in Qld, NSW, SA and
Victoria. Such trade was not always solely for economic reasons but also for ceremonial exchange, indicating a broad ‘diffusion of
Use-wear and residue studies
Various methods of stone artefact analysis have provided significant insights into Indigenous people’s lives. ‘Use-wear’ and residue analyses (Fullagar 1994:66–67), where the working edges of stone artefacts are microscopically examined for traces of plant or animal material (eg Lombard and Wadley 2007; Fullagar
1994:66–67), have been effective in informing about functions of artefacts across the continent (Dickson 1981:180; Holdaway and
Stern 2004:221). Field and Fullagar (1997:300–302), for example, analysed grindstones from Cuddie Springs to demonstrate antiquity of a seed-grinding economy there of around 30,000 bp. Such results have then been used to support theories such as that seed grinding was, in certain regions, a response to climatic changes (Field and Fullagar 1997:302). Slack et al. (2004:132) found, from north-western Qld, one particular artefact having residue of ‘dark smears and small starch granules’ that indicated possible hafting. Use-wear and residue examination can also assist in the accurate identification of artefacts, such as in distinguishing between cores and core tools, which is particularly challenging with small stone artefacts (Fullagar
1994:66). Experimental studies of stone heat treatment have also revealed characteristics of the use of heat, such as an ‘increased, greasy lustre on flaked surfaces’ (Domanski and Webb 1992:612), which archaeologists have subsequently used to determine that
Indigenous people at times pre-heated stone in order to improve its flaking abilities, such as at Burrill Lake (Hiscock 2008:121).
‘Refitting studies’ have also helped to understand the stone tool reduction process by attempting to reconstruct it through rejoining flakes and flaking debris to a biface or core (Laughlin and Kelly 2010).
The chaîne opératoire approach
Cultural practices have also been revealed by lithic analysis using the chaîne opératoire approach. Although caution is needed
(Andrefsky 2009:68), perhaps best in the form of corroborating evidence from specialist disciplines, this also has potential for indicating levels of human cognition (Moore 2011:702).
The framework seeks to inform about cultural influences and circumstances acting on the decisions made by the maker of an artefact at each step of production (Close 1978:223;
Dobres 2010:106; Holdaway and Douglass 2012:127). McBryde
(1987:252–273; also in Torrence 2005:357) demonstrated that
Indigenous people transported stone artefacts over long distances for symbolic and ceremonial purposes and Mulvaney (1985:211) noted similar evidence. This provided valuable understandings of the importance of symbolism and ceremony in the social systems of Indigenous Australians and that this, not solely function, was often reflected in their artefacts. This evidence of symbolic behaviour in turn supports generally accepted views that such cognitive ability was a continuation of that which had already existed in anatomically modern humans at the time of their exodus from Africa some 65,000 to 85,000 years ago. Although a range of methods is most effective (Gould et al. 1971:167), had
McBryde, even though she was not specifically adopting the entirety of the chaîne opératoire approach, solely studied the artefacts’ functions or attributes she may have misunderstood the ‘more anthropological context’ (Tolstevin 2011:363).
Simon Munt, Inert, Inanimate, Invaluable | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Stone artefact studies have not been able to answer every question about the Indigenous occupation of Australia. They have, however, provided a number of highly informed, evidence based conclusions and indications about a range of important issues. Well accepted dates from inland and southern sites have demonstrated both a relatively rapid spread of colonisation of Australia and that this occurred not exclusively in coastal regions. Despite a lack of universal agreement, sites such as
Malakunanja II and Nauwalabila provide some evidence for the arrival of Indigenous people in Australia at pre 45,000 bp and perhaps between 50,000 bp and 60,000 bp. This supports arguments for the timing of the original exodus of anatomically modern humans from Africa and their subsequent speed and pattern of dispersal. Such dates have also been critical for debates such as that concerning the role played by Indigenous people in the extinction of the megafauna. Use-wear and residue analyses have helped to demonstrate important aspects of Indigenous people’s lives, such as the manner in which they procured food. Experimental studies have demonstrated that at times
Indigenous people pre-heated cores in order to improve their flaking quality. Lithic studies have demonstrated trade networks stretching over vast distances, provided insights into the ways that Indigenous people may have responded to environmental changes and helped to disp el early notions of Indigenous culture as having been static. The chaîne opératoire approach has helped to focus on anthropological reasons for an artefact being made in a certain way. Many methods can be employed to learn about the past but the contribution of stone artefact studies has been particularly valuable for helping to understand the nature of the
Indigenous occupation of Australia.
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Kani Shaie Archaeological Project:
New fieldwork in Iraqi Kurdistan
University of Pennsylvania, <[email protected]>
The autonomous northeastern Kurdistan region of Iraq consists of fertile plains, luscious hills, and daunting mountain chains, in stark contrast to the rest of the country marked by the flat, alluvial lowlands of Mesopotamia. Despite 150 years of archaeological expeditions to Iraq, the Kurdish region has received very little attention by archaeologists. To some extent this lack of archaeological research is due to general political instability and the brutal oppression of Kurdish demands for recognition and autonomy. Nevertheless, despite the impressive and unexpected results of a handful of excavations and surveys in this mountainous region (e.g. Shanidar cave, Jarmo, Shemshara), the luring call of the large cities and empires in the plains of
Babylonia and Assyria in other parts of Iraq was too tempting for archaeologists to resist. Developments and events in recent years have changed this situation drastically. The autonomous Kurdish
Region of Iraq (KRG) has been politically stable and economically prosperous, while military conflicts, popular uprisings, and armed resistance groups have rendered Mesopotamia proper (in
Syria and Iraq) inaccessible. As a result, archaeological fieldwork in Iraqi Kurdistan has exploded with dozens of new excavation and survey projects.
Together with André Tomé and Ricardo Cabral from the
University of Coimbra in Portugal, we decided to seize the opportunity to set up a new excavation project in Iraqi Kurdistan and to contribute to the archaeological exploration of this unknown and poorly understood region. In March 2012 we visited the province of Sulaimaniyah for the first time courtesy of the gracious invitation of Kamal Rasheed, Director of the
Sulaimaniyah Department of Antiquities, and Hashim Hama,
Director of the Sulaimaniyah Museum. We set our project mission to establish a stratigraphic sequence of local material culture, without which a regional survey and study of settlement history is impossible. To achieve this goal in an efficient and timely manner, we decided to start excavations at Kani Shaie
(http://kanishaie.org). This site is rather small – only 2 ha in its largest extent – but contains at least 11m of occupation spanning the Late Chalcolithic and Bronze Age (ca. 4000 – 1500 BCE), with a small later occupation during Parthian (ca. 250 BCE – 250
CE) and early Islamic times (ca. 8th – 10th century). Kani Shaie is located within the small Bazyan Valley, on the route connecting northern Mesopotamia and the Zagros Mountains (Figure 1).
During September 2013 we conducted a first season of excavations by setting out two step trenches on the northern and southern slopes of the site. This work confirmed the great potential of
Kani Shaie and the need to retrieve a local stratigraphic sequence before conducting surface survey in the region and attempting to reconstruct historical patterns. Large parts of Iraqi Kurdistan are part of the Zagros Mountains, which is reflected in the material culture. The well-established Mesopotamian sequence is not particularly useful here, and archaeological exploration in the Zagros region has demonstrated its great heterogeneity and localised patterns of the material culture.
Based on the work in 2013, we can now reconstruct the settlement history of Kani Shaie and determine research goals for future seasons. Five sherds collected from the surface indicate that the site was first occupied in the final phases of the so-called
Ubaid period, toward the end of the 5th millennium BCE. Likely
Figure 2: Location of Kani Shaie and the Bazyan Valley (adapted from
Figure 1: Location of Kani Shaie, highlighted in red (created by author)
Figure 3: Kani Shaie, view from north (photograph by Steve Rennette,
the site remained occupied throughout the 4th millennium
BCE, providing an opportunity to retrieve new information on this still poorly understood period. The lowest levels reached so far can be dated to the Late Uruk period (ca. 3500 – 3200
BCE). At this time in the ancient Near East, a vast network had been established in which southern Mesopotamian material
(ceramics, administrative technology, and architecture) spread and was adopted widely. Kani Shaie is the first site in the region to be excavated that was part of this Uruk network; perhaps another “Uruk colony”. The limited exposure in the step trenches revealed remains of what must have been a very large building that was destroyed by fire. Between thick walls there is a 2m thick, partially burned deposit of collapsed bricks, smashed pottery, and animal bones. All the ceramics are southern Mesopotamian in type without any trace so far of local material. Associated with this destruction layer, albeit out of context, is a clay tablet that was impressed with a numerical mark and on which a cylinder seal was impressed several times. The seal impression is of typical Late Uruk style, but it depicts a highly unusual and unique scene of a boat containing five horned quadrupeds and steered by two rowers, being sent off by an overseer with another horned quadruped (Figure 6). The unusual depiction of a boat and the shipment of horned animals suggest a local economic exploitation of mountain faunal resources.
The destruction level is followed by a drastic reorganisation of the site. The period immediately following the Late Chalcolithic is one of the least known in the ancient Near Eastern historical sequence. At Kani Shaie we encountered a long sequence dating to this time. Two seal impressions from these levels indicate that the site still functioned as a local administrative centre, however, the ceramics indicate interaction with regions to the west, east, and south. In Syria, Iraq, and Iran, several traditions of painted pottery have been documented to appear at the end of the 4th millennium and into the 3rd millennium BCE. At Kani Shaie several of these traditions have been found together, along with a purely local style never encountered elsewhere. This material will allow us in future seasons to explore the nature of interregional interaction.
The next season is planned in September 2014 when we will focus on horizontal exposure of the early 3rd millennium levels.
Detailed excavation of secure archaeological contexts will greatly contribute to elucidating developments during this period, which is currently not recognised in surveys being conducted in the wider region. With our work we then hope to demonstrate the potential of archaeological exploration of small sites and on a smaller scale with a detailed focus.
Figure 4: Landscape with Kani Shaie in the foreground (photograph by
Ricardo Cabral, September 2013)
Figure 7: Sample of painted pottery found at Kani Shaie (photograph courtesy of KSAP)
Figure 5: North step trench (photograph by Steve Rennette, September
Figure 6: 3D scan of Uruk period sealed tablet (image courtesy of KSAP)
Figure 8: Sample of painted pottery found at Kani Shaie (photograph courtesy of KSAP)
A Tale of Two Cities
Graduate Archaeologist, <[email protected]>
Capital of France
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France. It is situated on the Seine River, in the north of the country, at the heart of the
Area: 105.4 km²
Weather: 9°C, Wind W at 8 km/h, 61% Humidity
Population: 2.211 million (2008)
Largest Town on the Gulf of Carpenteria coast
The largest community on Northern Cape York Peninsula.
Area: 10.9 km²
Weather: 35°C, 95% Humidity
Since graduating at the end of 2013 I have been fortunate enough to work in two graduate positions…on opposite sides of the planet.
In November 2013 I applied for the Vacation programme with
Rio Tinto Alcan in Weipa, Queensland. If you don’t know where that is: don’t worry, neither did I. Suffice it to say that the town is closer to Papua New Guinea than to any other Australian town.
Towards the end of my three months in Weipa I was offered an internship with UNESCO. This was very exciting. The only catch was that it was in Paris, France, and I had to be there in a little over four weeks.
Since these graduate jobs are about as different as they are possible to get, I thought you all might like to know a bit about what it’s like to be a recent graduate in these parts of the heritage industry.
When taking a job in a small town like Weipa, the most important thing to remember is that it is a very small town. Everyone you meet will work for, or be connected with, the company in some way, and there is a limited number of activities unless you enjoy fishing and four wheel driving. That said, working for a company like Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA) was a fantastic experience. RTA has an excellent Indigenous Land Use Agreement, and a great deal of the heritage work that happens in Weipa is community engagement.
As you know archaeology in Australia is frequently the study of a living culture. Engaging with the representatives of that culture is a vital aspect of understanding and managing the archaeological landscape in areas like Cape York. This engagement with traditional owners was both the most challenging and the most rewarding aspect of my work in Weipa. I learned that it is vital for archaeologists in this field to be excellent communicators above all else.
Less than two weeks after flying home from Weipa I was on a plane to Paris. This was an overwhelming experience, but luckily
I had a friend I could stay with until I sorted out a place to live.
This is not something I ever thought I would be dealing with in my professional life, which just goes to show how varied the experience of working in this industry can be.
I arrived a week ago and have now started work in UNESCO’s internship programme. Mostly my job consists of preparing documentation to aid the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in making decisions about the status and management of World
Heritage Properties. This seemed daunting at first, but it is really a matter of gathering information and processing it into a form that the committee members will find easy to access – a bit like writing an essay.
The WHC has a mainly administrative role in the management of World Heritage. They administer and manage the sites on the list according to the advice given by the International Council on
Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). That said the people who work for the WHC have to be heritage experts to correctly and concisely summarise this advice. One challenge for me has been working on natural properties, like the Great Barrier Reef. I know very little about nature conservation so I have had to expand the principles we learn in heritage management, stabilisation and minimal intervention, to suit very different forms of heritage.
Six months ago I could never have imagined living and working in Paris or, to be honest, Weipa. What my experiences since graduating have really reinforced for me is the great variety of work available for archaeology graduates. In the current economy the task of finding work can seem intimidating, but you just need to be creative, and persistent, in your applications.
An Interview with Brian Fagan
During the recent National Archaeology Student Conference at
Flinders University, Dig It co-editor Jordan Ralph caught up with
keynote speaker Brian Fagan to get his perspective on careers, archaeology, archaeologists and what to expect in the future.
Jordan: Alright, Brian…how, when and why did you first decide to become an archaeologist?
Brian: I had never ever thought about archaeology at all until I got into Cambridge University in England and chose archaeology and anthropology as a major on the recommendation of my tutor. And my first lecturer was a man called Miles Burkitt who’d been teaching there since 1921. He was out of date and a very conservative archaeologist, but he was a wonderful storyteller.
His stories got me interested in the past. And then, in my second year, by chance I met a gentleman called Desmond Clark who was a very, very famous Stone Age archaeologist who offered me a job in what was then the Rhodes-Livingstone Museum - it’s now the Livingstone Museum - in Zambia, by the Victoria
Falls. And I went out there and spent 6 years in Africa. Clark got me working on the Iron Age cultures of the southern part of the country. These societies were an integral part of the history of
Black Africa, and this became a multidisciplinary field – I was exposed to multidisciplinary archaeology very early on. In my late twenties I was one of the small group of people who kind of basically got the field off the ground. So it was fascinating.
Jordan: So did you ever regret becoming an archaeologist?
Brian: Yes, there have been times when I have. I did seven years of very intense excavation and field work in Africa. I discovered that – and I was rather hard on myself, maybe – that I was a very good second-rate excavator, and I didn’t have the personality for the detail and that sort of thing. And I decided that I was going to leave archaeology, until I had lunch with Sir Mortimer Wheeler, whom I knew very well. He encouraged me to start working on writing archaeology for the general public, which nobody was really doing. And I got offered a job as a visiting professor at the
University of Illinois, did that for a year and was given a job at the
University of California and basically became a generalist. Ever since then my primary audience has been the general public and students.
So I kind of changed, you know…
Jordan: What did your parents say about you becoming an archaeologist?
Brian: They were very excited. My father was a publisher, oddly enough, in London. He was Managing Director of a very respectable, very high-end publisher of non-fiction and fiction.
His company’s biggest claim to fame was that they published the novelist E.M. Forster, who was very famous. My father was into books and learning and was terribly pleased with what I did, and my mother was too. I think my mother had ambitions that I would settle down and live in a small town in England and become a lawyer and marry a nice English girl [laughs]. I did none of those things, but she accepted it. They weren’t very happy that I went so far away, and I regret I didn’t see more of them in their old age, but that’s the name of the game in archaeology’s remote places.
Jordan: What’s your advice for archaeology students or junior archaeologists who want to have a successful career in archaeology?
Brian: [thinks] Don’t do it [laughs]. No. It is much harder than when I was young. There are many more archaeologists, but on the other side of the coin, although the academic side of archaeology is shrinking all over the world, there are more and more very diverse opportunities in cultural resource management, in administering and preserving heritage. And my advice to anyone becoming an archaeologist, now whether MA or PhD, is a) get as general and as sound training as you can; b) maintain broad interests and if you’re going to teach: teach them; and above all, don’t get over-specialised. There’s a disease in archaeology globally now: we’re all embracing science and we’re all becoming very, very narrow. And the reality is that isn’t where a lot of the opportunities are. And I would say: keep it broad, and make sure you’re well-trained. And learn one other language, at least.
Jordan: That kind of links to this next question, which is: what would you like us, as the archaeologists of the future to do, to say, and to research?
Brian: Well first thing is, you’re going to be in a very different landscape. And the landscape of archaeology is changing radically already. I think academic archaeology as we know it is going to continue to shrink and at some point will stabilise. The danger is that it will all become very provincial, very narrow, very closed, very ivory tower. The real action in archaeology in the next 50 years is going to be in various areas. The biggest priority is preventing looting, the destruction of the past, which means that cultural resource management done intelligently is enormously important. And I think there are some very interesting long-term careers in that, some of which will be in quite big companies, I suspect.
The other area that is huge is the whole area of cultural tourism and heritage. Cultural tourism is becoming one of the fastest growing areas of international tourism, and some of the visitor figures are frightening. Your generation is going to have to face issues of crowding, of sheer numbers loving sites like, for the sake of argument, Stonehenge or the Pyramids to death. What are we going to do about it, especially in the context of traditional sacred places, like for instance Uluru? I think a huge amount of effort is going to go into these issues. And I think there will be careers in it.
The other final area which I think is where archaeologists have a voice – well, I talked about this last night, but there’s much more to it – is in areas which are of huge concern to everybody.
Climate change, sustainability, water…topics like this that we’ve studied as archaeologists. Also irrigation – very few people have thought about using traditional water systems which are most interesting and useful. A lot of research will be in these areas research, but it’s going to be very multidisciplinary. I don’t think archaeology in 50 years’ time is going to be an island. I think archaeologists have got to be very deeply involved in community, very deeply involved in the environment, very deeply involved in the archaeological record as such. As far as basic research is concerned, the biggest priority is not to turn out more experts on the Maya or Angkor Wat; it’s to research the areas that we don’t know anything about. And that’s not happening.
Jordan: Can you comment about the changing approaches, or if they have changed, to ethical practices in archaeology?
Brian: There’s been an increasing debate about ethics in archaeology. And I vividly remember sitting on a committee of
Dig It dialogue: An interview with Brian Fagan
the Society of American Archaeology…oh, must have been 10 or
15 years ago, when there was this huge debate about repatriation and reburial of human remains of Native Americans. And one of the people who talked to us was the Secretary of the Smithsonian, who at the time was an archaeologist. And a couple of people there, “What about science, this, that and the other?” And he just cut them short and said, “You must understand: this is an ethical issue.” He was absolutely correct. Reburial and repatriation among other things have made archaeologists, certainly in the
States, much more aware of the ethical consequences of their work. At the same time, there have been efforts made to tighten policies, particularly in the context of an explosion of cultural resource management about publication, ethical behaviour and so on.
Then you have the whole area of working with traditional people, which you obviously know much more about than I do. And this to me is a very challenging, very exciting area. There’s no way we’re going to be able to, let’s say, go into Mongolia and not worry about the local people. This is a form of cultural imperialism and that’s unacceptable. One of the big problems for example in
Andean archaeology, or Maya research is involving the locals.
And increasingly locally trained scholars in the Andes and in
Mexico are more and more becoming the leaders of the research.
There’s more and more teamwork and this is good, because what all of this is about, isn’t you developing a career. It’s preserving the past for their future, and respecting all the different stakeholders, and we haven’t really thought about that until the last ten years.
I hope that’s helpful.
Jordan: Yeah, that’s great. What do you think is the best thing about being an archaeologist, and what is the worst?
Brian: This may seem a rather strange reply: archaeology is traditionally thought of as a romance, à la Indiana Jones, all that crap. The days when it was an adventure are long gone. And the days of what I would call ‘great archaeologists’; Leonard Woolley,
Howard Carter, Mortimer Wheeler, are gone. We are now in the era of very deliberate, slow moving, careful multidisciplinary research. And I think the big attraction of archaeology now is, on the one hand, the chance for people to go out to remote areas they’d never otherwise see and be exposed to other peoples. The other thing that’s very exciting is being able to interface with the public and make people excited, and become a kind of partner in helping people better appreciate and understand the past.
Field work tends to be something that you ease out of in your forties and fifties – not invariably; I know people who went on to their eighties! But it really is a young person’s game, in many respects, particularly if one’s working in tough, remote areas. And I think the role of older archaeologists like me is communication, training, making sure people understand why archaeology is important. I think the big attraction in it as a field is that it’s fascinating, you’re dealing with cultural diversity, it’s adventuresome sometimes – it’s not adventure, but it’s adventuresome – and it really teaches you how to stand on your own feet. And these are exciting things in a world that’s getting more and more urbanised, and more and more crowded. It is not a field for anybody, and I think the most important thing about it
– actually I’m going to talk about it this afternoon – is that you’re passionate about it.
. . . I have no regrets.
Jordan: So do you have any closing things you’d like to say for future archaeologists?
Brian: Don’t do it unless you’ve got fire in your belly…and if you are told – which, if you have good instructors, you should be –
“Look, I don’t think this is for you”: listen to it. Because of the nature of what I do, I meet a lot of archaeologists around the world, and I’ve met a hell of a lot of people in their forties who are very nice, and are basically competent, who realise they’re never going to go anywhere with it. And they were at a dead end.
And it isn’t a question of ambition, it’s a question of what your talents are, and I think you really need to evaluate yourself very carefully. I did, and it was very painful giving up fieldwork, which
I love – but I gave it up. I still visit a lot of sites and so on, but I’m now in retrospect, many years later, terribly glad I did it. Because
I was honest with myself. And actually Mortimer Wheeler told me I was honest and that was good.
But evaluate yourself. You’ll have a blast, there are a lot of nice people in it, but if it’s not for you: give it up before it’s too late.
Some of the people who I was talking about…we would drink beer and talk, and they would say in their cups, “I should have moved on.” And they’re deeply unhappy about it, but there’s nothing they can do; they’re stuck, they have children, they have families, they have mortgages. What a family friend once called
“the reality sandwich: bite it.” Having said that, I wouldn’t dream of discouraging anyone from becoming an archaeologist, but it is a matter of being very self-aware.
And it’s not easy to be a professor and say to a student, “John” or
“Kathy, I hate to tell you this, but this isn’t you”. And there were tears and upset, but in the long run…you’re comfortable with yourself because you’re being honest.
Jordan: That’s great.
Brian: This is a people business. It’s not a technology business.
Jordan: Alright, that’s really good.
Brian: Oh, thank you, Jordan.
Jordan: Thanks a lot, Brian.
Spencer and Gillen:
A journey through Aboriginal Australia
Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide,
Australia, <[email protected]>.
Review of the website spencerandgillen.net
Gary Jackson is an anthropologist and an adjunct researcher at
Flinders University. He has worked with a range of Aboriginal peoples in the Northern Territory and in the mid-north of South
Australia for the past 25 years.
Spencer and Gillen are among the most revered Australian anthropologists. Their pioneering work (e.g. Spencer and Gillen
1899; Spencer and Gillen 1904) influenced generations of subsequent researchers.
The web site, Spencer and Gillen – A journey through Aboriginal
Australia, is produced with the academic researcher in mind. It is a largely successful attempt to break down the ‘silos’ of knowledge that form over the years surrounding many enterprises. We know that a ‘silo’ represents a built mountain of knowledge that becomes accessible only to a few protectors of the knowledge.
Breaching these ‘silos’ can only be a good thing.
Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer was a biologist by training and
Professor at the University of Melbourne. In his travels through
Australia’s centre he met with Francis James Gillen, a public servant in charge of the telegraph station at Alice Springs
(Mulvaney 1990). These two researchers formed a mutually agreeable working relationship at a time when research into
Aboriginal customs was not fashionable. Insights into their personal relationship can be obtained through letters from Gillen to Spencer, edited by Mulvaney, Morphy and Petch (1997). The vast amount of materials they collected is represented on this site.
The site is easily journeyed through with good photography that makes the journey pleasant. If you want to know about an
Aboriginal person or collected knowledge and artefacts, they are here and easily accessible.
It is refreshing to see this collaboration of institutions who hold information on Spencer and Gillen joining together to establish such a rich repository of knowledge. It is obviously not a cheap exercise as it took an Australian Research Council grant to make it happen. Its success, and the experience gained, may prompt others to self-fund similar endeavours. But, I am not holding my breath.
On the site you will read of the twenty-six institutions and private collections that collaborated to make this enterprise successful.
These range from those in Canberra to those in Italy and the
United Kingdom which is a wide and largely encompassing group.
For a site that is constructed to expand openness and information sharing I find it strange that the Australian Research Council recipients are coy about whom they are. To find out you have to be granted access and a password to the site.
A notable omission to the list of contributing institutions is the
AIATSIS (Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Studies) in Canberra. This omission suggests that the tearing down of knowledge silos regarding Spencer and Gillen’s
research is unfortunately incomplete.
Spencer and Gillen were researching in the period between 1894 and 1912; a time when the study of Indigenous cultures was in its founding stage. The site informs us that their research influenced and inspired foundational studies, such as Emile Durkheim’s publication, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1915) and
Sigmund Freud’s Totem and Taboo (1918). This highlights the vast importance of their work to the font of human knowledge.
What a pleasure to delve into the results of their endeavours without having to suffer the heat, dust and flies that must have plagued these men and their Aboriginal teachers. Their sacrifices were great and probably not recorded in depth. I think this collection does give us clues to what must have happened on the ground and we can well imagine the rest. They were brave men doing great work and the fruit is here for us to consume.
The site’s handling of restricted material is interesting:
Spencer and Gillen took photographs of ceremonies, and collected ceremonial objects which are traditionally only accessible to senior initiated men. These ceremonies, or objects, are treated reverently and revealed to trusted, initiated men only. Many of the photographs, films, sound recordings and objects are therefore not accessible on this site but you will be able to read some of the information collected about the object (spencerandgillen.net:2013).
There is nothing so tempting to human curiosity than a well kept secret. Therefore, it is pleasing to see that care has been taken to restrict access to secret/sacred information on the site. This was done after a series of consultations over a three year period, culminating with discussions with the old men and women of the Central and Eastern Arrernte Elders Group at the Institute for Aboriginal Development in Alice Springs and at the Nyinkka
Nyunyu Cultural Centre in Tennant Creek.
Senior Aboriginal men and women were able to determine whether certain material – be it manuscript, photographic, film or artefacts - were restricted or not and we have worked diligently to ensure this material is not freely accessible via this website (spencerandgillen.
This is a daunting task as we know that women’s and men’s secret knowledge was kept strictly to each gender group. Women who happened upon secret men’s knowledge were often in fear of being killed in order to protect the knowledge. So how the same knowledge was communicated to both men and women to assess its sacredness bewilders me. It would be curious to know how this seemingly impossible task was undertaken without causing any cultural damage.
Reading through the site does inspire the reader towards examining the lives of these men more closely. For example,
Spencer’s biographer, John Mulvaney, has noted that Spencer headed the first university department to appoint female lecturers and eventually all his departmental colleagues were women
(Mulvaney 1990). How good was that? This first employment of women in the academy shows another facet to Spencer’s progressive thinking.
Gary Jackson, Spencer & Gillen | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
I came away from reading this site feeling happily enriched and
I would recommend it to the serious researcher and others as a great resource for which we should be thankful.
Durkheim, E. 1915 The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. London: G.
Allan & Unwin, New York, Macmillan.
Freud, S. 1918 Totem and Taboo: Resemblances Between the Psychic lives of Savages and Neurotics. New York: Moffat, Yard & Co.
Mulvaney, D.J. 1990 Spencer, Sir Walter Baldwin 1860–1929. In J.
Ritchie (ed.), Australian dictionary of biography Volume 12, pp.33-
36. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press.
Mulvaney, J,. H. Morphy, and A. Petch, (eds) 1997 ‘My Dear Spencer’:
The Letters Of F.J. Gillen To Baldwin Spencer. Melbourne: Hyland
Reconstructing the Spencer and Gillen Collection Project 2013 Spencer
& Gillen. A Journey Through Aboriginal Australia. Retrieved 8th
March 2014 from <spencerandgillen.net>.
Spencer, W.B. and F.J. Gillen 1899 The Native Tribes of Central Australia.
London: Macmillan and Co.
Spencer, W.B. and F.J. Gillen 1904 The Northern Tribes of Central
Australia. London: Macmillan and Co.
The Future’s as Bright as the Smiles:
National Archaeology Student Conference 2014
Master of Maritime Archaeology Student, Department of Archaeology, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia,
The 2014 National Archaeology Student Conference (NASC) was held at Flinders University, in Adelaide, South Australia on 11th-13th of April. The conference was first run in 1998 and was last run in 2004. The conferences main aims are to provide a supportive and enlightened forum for all tertiary students to present and discuss their recent research and ideas. Open to all universities around Australia, some participants this year hailed all the way from North America, Europe and Asia. NASC is also interdisciplinary, allowing any discipline to participate as long as it has inferences back to archaeology and research from many geographical focuses are encouraged. This past conference saw presentations and posters on Celtic identity, Romanian GIS, and the Australian pearling industry to name a few, and was considered to be a successful relaunch of the conference by both the organising committee and attendees.
Close to 100 students participated in the four day conference that began on Friday the 11 th
of April with two pre-conference workshops on offer. The morning workshop was presented by
Dr Bob Stone of Flinders University entitled: Archaeological excavations overseas: logistics, procedures, techniques and cataloguing. Business as usual? This gave students access to information that could aid them in conducting research in a foreign country, and an opportunity to ask questions from a seasoned and well-travelled archaeologist. The afternoon workshop was presented by Dr Jillian Garvey of La Trobe
University and Professor Claire Smith of Flinders University:
Pursuing an academic career in archaeology: volunteering,
NASC keynote Q&A panel with Dr Annie Clarke and Professor Emeritus
Brian Fagan at the Function Centre, Flinders University (photo by Mike
publishing, grant writing and postdocs. This workshop was invaluable to all university students in attendance, regardless of degree, to receive inside information about pursuing archaeology as a career in academia. Both workshops were full and very well received by attendees. The workshops were followed by a keynote speaker Q&A panel with Dr Annie Clarke of University of Sydney and creator of NASC back in 1998, and Professor
Emeritus Brian Fagan of University of California. The panel provided students the rare opportunity to ask questions of these two iconic archaeologists, ranging from career advice to “what’s the best artefact you ever found?” The panel proved to be a highlight of the opening day of the conference and its jovial, laid back atmosphere set the tone for the entire weekend.
The pre-conference events continued with the launch of the
Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology edited by Flinders’ own
NASC 2014 attendees in the Humanities courtyard at Flinders University (photograph by Mike Pasch)
Chelsea Colwell-Pasch, The Future’s as Bright as the Smiles | Dig It 2(1):2-78 (2014)
Dr. Annie Clarke’s (pictured) entertaining opening keynote presentation at the Function Centre (photograph by Mike Pasch)
Professor Claire Smith. A formal launch took place followed by a reception catered by the Flinders Archaeological Society. Many post-graduate students at Flinders were authors or reviewers of the eleven-volume set, and the launch was a celebration in its completion and a source of pride for Flinders University. A
Welcome to Country and welcome to NASC opening speeches were then given followed immediately by the opening keynote presentation by Dr Annie Clarke, Telling Stories: narrative and multi-disciplinary approaches to archaeology. Dr Clarke’s enthusiasm for the field and passion for education were evident in her Cindy Lauper sound tracked presentation, and her contagious light-hearted attitude was welcomed over the entire conference. The Welcome Dinner afterwards consisted of a barbeque put on by the NASC organising committee and provided an informal forum for initial introductions, conference networking, lively debates, and warm reunions.
The first day of presentations began early on Saturday, the 12 th
April. North Theatre 1 was set up with sponsorship signs and a registration table flanked the theatre’s antechamber. The weather was cooperative over the course of the entire conference weekend and gave visiting attendees a warmer welcome to Adelaide.
Four sessions were run over the course of the day, broken up by a morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea. All meals during the conference were provided in the registration fee (except Saturday night’s dinner) and volunteers were integral to ensuring that the breaks ran smoothly. Session one was chaired by Liesel Gentelli from University of Western Australia and six presenters, from
PhDs to undergraduates on various topics, presented ten minute presentations followed by five minute Q&As. Session two was chaired by Rhiannon Agutter from Flinders and consisted of six honours presentations. Session three was chaired by Rebekah
Hawkins from University of Sydney and consisted of three honours and three graduate diploma presentations. The final session of the day was chaired by Catherine Bland of Flinders and consisted of five international PhD level presentations with presenters from Romania, Scotland and Japan. The presentations were being evaluated by a panel of judges with awards for best presentation (per academic level) and poster awarded at the closing conference dinner. The judges were Dr Jillian Garvey (La
Trobe University), Michael Lever (Andrew Long and Associates,
Melbourne), Professor Emeritus Vincent Megaw (Flinders
University), Professor Claire Smith (Flinders University), and Dr
Bob Stone (Flinders University).
The poster session was held at the Function Centre at Flinders, following session four, and was again catered by the Flinders
Archaeological Society. Thirteen posters were submitted for
Flinders University PhD candidate Jana Rogasch as the first presenter at NASC 2014 in North Theatre 1 (photograph by Mike Pasch)
judging and the authors stood by their work in order to answer questions from conference attendees and judges. The posters, again, ranged in academic levels, geographic locations, and nationalities of authors highlighting the variety of research and researchers in attendance. After a short dinner break, the Inaugural Ruth and Vincent Megaw Annual Lecture in
Archaeology and Art was to commence. The purpose of this lecture series is to honour the lifetime commitments of Emeritus
Professor Vincent Megaw and his wife Dr Ruth Megaw to archaeology at Flinders University and to the Flinders University
Art Museum. The Inaugural Ruth and Vincent Megaw Award for Outstanding Collaboration in Archaeological Research and Practice award was presented prior to the lecture and was awarded to Kurt Bennet, Chelsea Colwell-Pasch, Lauren Davison,
Celeste Jordan, Josh Russ, Jeffery Schaeffer, Vanessa Sullivan, and Andrew Wilkinson (all from Flinders University) for their work on a poster series presented at the Australasian Institute of
Maritime Archaeology (AIMA) conference in Canberra in 2013.
The lecture was presented by Professor Emeritus Brian Fagan and titled: Come, let me tell you a tale: Archaeology, Storytelling, and the Underperformed Play of the Past. Brian commented on his long career as both an African archaeologist and an archaeological writer and provided an inspiring commentary on archaeology today and where the future lies. This lecture was free to the public and the function centre was standing room only. Delegates from the conference, students and staff from the university, and the public poured into the venue for the lecture by this seminal archaeologist. Drinks and finger foods were also provided afterwards.
Sunday, 13 th
of April, began early again as the final day of presentations commenced. Another three student sessions were slotted for the day followed by the final session which was the closing keynote presentation by Professor Fagan. The first session of the day, session five, was chaired by Sharna Katzeff from University of Sydney and consisted of six Master students presentations. After morning tea, session six was chaired by
Rebecca Williams of University of Queensland and six PhDs presented their research. The final student session followed lunch, where the final four PhD students presented, and was chaired by Jana Rogasch of Flinders University. After afternoon tea the final session of the conference, chaired by Chelsea
Colwell-Pasch of Flinders, was the closing keynote presentation by Professor Fagan. He closed NASC with an inspiring and cautionary commentary on archaeology today and for the future leaving all those who witnessed his presentation with a sense of duty and purpose for humanity through archaeology. He ended his session with his commendations about professionalism of the conference, the quality of the presentations and the participation of the attendees in the audience. The NASC 2014 organising committee, volunteers and judges were applauded for their efforts and a flower arrangement was given to Leah Puletama,
NASC 2014 executive chair, by Professor Megaw.
The conference dinner was held at the Earl of Leicester Hotel where the awards for best presentations (by level of study) and poster were awarded. Certificates of appreciation were also given to the judges and the keynote speakers. NASC came to an end in much the same way it began on the Friday before: informally with laughs, networking and smiles all-round. NASC offered two post-conference workshops on Monday the 14th of April, namely for those from out of town (or country). The workshops were held, not far from Flinders University, at The Living Kaurna
Cultural Centre in Warriparinga. Workshop one was entitled
Native Plant, Bushtucker, Kaurna Culture and Music Workshop whilst the second was an Art Workshop.
The conference was successful in fulfilling its aims and feedback from judges, attendees, volunteers, presenters and the organising committee have all been positive. Several universities have also expressed interest in running the next instalment (or the one after) ensuring that the relaunch has reanimated the conference and the momentum continues. Students will have the opportunity to publish their presentations in a special edition
World Archaeological Congress (WAC) journal in the future, thus promoting the conference and the quality of research students can provide to the field of archaeology.
Professor Emeritus Brian Fagan presenting the Inaugural Ruth and
Vincent Megaw Annual Lecture in Archaeology and Art to a full house at the Function Centre, Flinders University (photograph by Mike Pasch)
Professor Emeritus Brian Fagan presenting the final keynote presentation at NASC 2014 (photograph by Mike Pasch)
Flinders Archaeological Society’s 21
In late 2013, the Flinders Archaeological Society celebrated its 21 st
‘Birthday’. Invited guests Professor Diana Glenn and Professor
Emeritus Vincent Megaw delivered remarkable speeches to help celebrate the ocsasion. All photographs by Christopher Hutchinson.
Speech by Professor Diana Glenn, Dean, School of Humanities.
I’m delighted to be here to celebrate with you the 21st anniversary and outstanding achievements of the Flinders Archaeological
Society. My husband and I thank you for the kind invitation and for your generosity and warm hospitality. A particular thanks to Andrew Wilkinson, Jordan Ralph and the members of the
Program; public seminars; organising participation at National
Archaeology Week and as volunteers for field work; and even facilitating activities such as student attendance at conferences.
ArchSoc members also hold their own public outreach events such as ‘Meet the Archaeologists Night’ and Quiz nights. They promote Flinders University and the Department of Archaeology in a terrific way, and it is our belief that over the years the Society has generated a commendable level of interest in studying at
This could not be achieved without the selflessness and dedication of the ArchSoc Committee and the general membership. I can tell you that other departments in the School of Humanities would love to have a society like yours.
We believe that the engagement and opportunities that have been created by ArchSoc in the past 21 years have provided very strong support for students.
It is wonderful to see the diverse activity of the Society continue to flourish and the School looks forward to the creation of new directions and pathways for furthering the relationship with the Department of Archaeology and with the archaeology community at large.
To the ArchSoc membership: congratulations to you all and I commend you on your achievement. We are very proud of you and we wish you all the best for the journey ahead. Enjoy this celebration! You’ve earned it! To ArchSoc members past and present – I dig it!!
The Flinders Archaeological Society constitutes a truly unique society (unique in Australia, I’m reliably told) whose longevity and sustained success are made possible by the expertise, enthusiasm and whole-hearted commitment of so many wonderful people.
Since the Inaugural AGM held on 10 March 1992, ArchSoc has been a source of dynamic energy, dedicated work, and great fun, judging by the photos I’ve seen on your facebook page. I’ve also experienced first-hand the buzz and vitality generated by your membership at School and Departmental events, and you are truly an exceptional group!
On this memorable occasion I wish to emphasise the importance of the role that student clubs and societies play in the daily life of the University. Flinders University recognises the significant and lasting contribution that societies such as yours make to the professional development of students, not only regarding the benefits of extra-curricular activity, but also in the development of leadership and social skills.
The School of Humanities is extremely pleased and proud to have a Society whose sustained commitment and long-standing activity provide a range of significant benefits, not only in academic terms, but in the widening of participant perspectives and the positive gains for students in terms of personal growth, identity formation, cohort and confidence building, and skills acquisition.
At Flinders we genuinely value our students and we’re committed to the enhancement of the student experience. The relationship that ArchSoc has fostered with the Department of Archaeology is one of true community.
ArchSoc offers valuable support at all Departmental and School events such as Open Days; the secondary school Enrichment
Speech by Vincent Megaw, Professor Emeritus of
Archaeology, Flinders University.
After dinner speeches are a curious animal, sitting awkwardly as they often do between various courses of a meal and interrupting all but the most surreptitious of hard drinkers. Etiquette demands that one often has to suffer in silence as the speaker drones on and on . . . and on. What one feels one often needs is someone, like the friend of Lucky Jim in the novel of the same name, who is primed to make a signal should one be overstaying their time at the lectern. Alas, on that occasion Jim was so fortified with strong drink that he ignored the signal. The rest of course was total disaster.
And for some reason at this point the horrible image pushes itself into my memory, the image of a wintery night in Moravia when I was hopelessly, horribly drunk. Together with another former Edinburgh student I was on my first trip to the then
Czechoslovakia in 1964 visiting the Upper Palaeolithic mammoth hunters site of Dolní Věstonice close to Brno. After walking around in minus 15 degrees Celsius we were invited by the manager of the local vineyard cooperative to warm up in the cellars carved out of the limestone and we proceeded to sample a range of Moravian wines. Then for some reason which now totally escapes me, we started to sing French part songs, the children of the manager, perched on the wine barrels watching these strange foreign animals at play. I remember thinking that if I stopped drinking at this point I might be OK but no — from his hip pocket the manager took out a medicine bottle full of a clear liquid — home-made slivovice or plum brandy distilled just the previous week. By now the temperature inside the cellars was a cosy 20 degrees, so imagine what happened when
we staggered out into the snow and a temperature drop of more than 40 degrees. . . I will spare you the details of the drive back to Brno or how I managed to navigate my way to my hotel room.
The following morning my hosts showed little sympathy for my plight but then it is said that while Czechs are heavy drinkers,
Moravians really know how to hit the bottle and Slovaks are just permanently drunk.
Well, the bad news is that on this occasion I haven’t drunk that much but still by force of habit could go on a bit. But don’t panic, don’t panic, I intend to speak for only a few more minutes, not a few hours.
Student societies are delicate flowers and if not tended carefully can whither but they can also flourish and any organisation that can attract more than 150 members is not doing badly. And here
I must acknowledge that the honour you gave me in 2001 by bestowing the first honorary life membership is only equalled by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland founded in 1780 — just a bit before our own dear ArchSoc — which elected me last year an
Honorary Fellow. The rules of the game are that there can only be
a maximum of 25 Honorary Fellows at any one time; currently first on the list is the Duke of Rothesay, the name given to Charles when in Scotland — no way could he be Prince of Wales north of the Border. Actually Charlie boy did read for the first part of the Cambridge Archaeology and Anthrolopology Tripos before switching to History and getting a not totally disgraceful Second
Class Honours degree.
The position of the various officers in any society often follows a fairly regular gradus ad Parnassum, starting in some lowly but important role running excursions or arranging the sale of merchandise. At Edinburgh I started in our ArchSoc as tea convenor, the first male ever to take on the highly important job of organising post-lecture refreshments — tea and coffee only; this was Scotland in the 1950s after all. While my Presidency was to follow, I was soon supervising excavations on windswept Iron
Age fortifications whose common factor was their inaccessibility and almost total lack of artefactual remains.
Flinders ArchSoc and I share a common date —1992. This not only saw what seems to have been the birth of the society but on
April Fool’s Day I was operated on for rectal cancer. The good news, well for me the good news, is that apart from occasional cold steal up ‘em I have been clear ever since. So I can take this as a good omen not only for my own future — and my current motto is ‘I have no time for being dead’ — but for the Society.
May the next 21 years be as good as the first!
Journal Profile: Chronika
1 Editor-in-Chief of Chronika
students tangible results of their research at an early stage and an opportunity to network with established scholars, months or even years before they receive their Ph.D. The providing for these experiences goes on both sides of the publishing process. The entire editorial board and all external reviewers are also graduate students. The ability to critique and improve others works is a skill that is hard to pick up early in an academic career, but can prove invaluable in discussing with more established academic their work and can improve ones own.
Each year, Chronika has shown tremendous growth, increasing in its distribution, number of submissions, and the rigor of its review process. Graduate students produce new and exciting work, often trying new directions of inquiry, and it is Chronika’s mission to share this discovery with a scholarly audience.
Interested in seeing Chronika and the work being done?
Current and back issues of Chronika can be found at: http://www.chronikajournal.com/
Chronika is an interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed graduate student journal for the art and archaeology of Europe and the
Mediterranean world that is produced with support from the
Institute of European and Mediterranean Archaeology (IEMA) at SUNY Buffalo, and the departments of Anthropology, Classics and Visual Studies. Over the past four years, Chronika has established itself as a great resource for scholars interested in following current trends in academic research in Europe and the Mediterranean, for SUNY Buffalo students to gain firsthand experience with the peer-review process from both sides of the experience, and for encouraging interdisciplinary dialogues between Anthropology, Classics and Visual Studies students at
SUNY Buffalo, as well as those from outside universities.
Chronika was conceived of as a journal for students working at the M.A. to Ph.D. level, offering students at this level a chance to submit to a journal targeted to this academic niche. While designed for junior scholars, Chronika maintains a high quality of work. Articles are accepted on a selective basis, subjected to a rigorous peer-review process lasting several months, and published in print and online within one academic year. Each volume is launched at the IEMA Visiting Scholar Conference in
April of every year, offering students who attend the conference an opportunity to network with visiting scholars, who each receive a copy of the journal. In this way, Chronika gives graduate
Dig It is a student-run journal and the official newsletter of the Flinders
Archaeological Society. The publication began in 1997 and after a hiatus of at least five years, it was relaunched in 2012. The new series began in 2013. The purpose of Dig It is to provide students, from undergrad through to postgrad and recent graduates, with the opportunity to practise and familiarise themselves with writing, publishing, editing and the reviewing process involved in professional publications. It aims to offer emerging young academics with an avenue to engage with archaeological dialogues and discourse. In addition, it aims to keep aspiring archaeologists connected and informed about what is happening in the archaeological community.
Dig It is published twice a year and is printed at Flinders Press. Dig It considers a range of contributions, including research articles, essays, personal accounts/opinion pieces, book reviews and thesis abstracts for publication. We welcome contributions from local, interstate and international undergrad and postgrad students and recent graduates.
The guidelines for contributors can be found here: http://flindersarchsoc.org/digit/guidelinesforcontributors/.
Dig It is an open access journal. The journal and the individual articles can be freely distributed; however, individual authors and Dig It must always be cited and acknowledged correctly. The intellectual ownership remains with the individual authors. Articles, figures and other content cannot be altered without the prior permission of the author.
Correspondence to the Editor should be addressed to:
The Editor, Dig It c/o ArchSoc
Department of Archaeology
GPO Box 2100
Adelaide, 5001 or email <[email protected]>
Editor: Jana Rogasch
Co-editors: Matthew Ebbs (academic reviews), Antoinette Hennessy
(social reviews) and Jordan Ralph (layout and interviews)
Permanent review panel: Rhiannon Agutter, Amy Batchelor, Robert
DeWet-Jones, Anna Foroozani, Simon Munt, Dianne Riley, Zoe
Robinson, Fiona Shanahan, Rhiannon Stammers and Isabel Wheeler
Email: [email protected]
Join our free mailing list: [email protected]
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