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Arponen et al.’s paper is a timely discussion paper which raises basic issues about the relationship between environmental science and archaeology, and thus about the relationship between science and archaeology more broadly. My comments will therefore begin with a discussion of the nature of interdisciplinary research, as a background for re-evaluating the question of determinism in environmental research. Thus more recently we have seen a critical concern or even anxiety emerge over how to reconcile science-based and humanistic traditions of interpretation in a period of expanding importance of science-based knowledge in aDNA studies (Callaway 2018; Sørensen 2017; Kristiansen 2017). It raises the question of their relationship and of what provides good practice.
Radiocarbon dating is paramount for chronologically defining the rise of polities in the Middle Bronze Age Carpathian Basin. This article presents a suite of new radiocarbon dates obtained from sites associated with the Early and Middle Bronze Age Maros Group, and its Late Bronze Age successors in the Tisza-Maros region of south-east Hungary, western Romania and northern Serbia. The results indicate tight chronological synchronisation of Middle Bronze Age settlements and cemeteries in the Maros region, while confirming the accuracy of ceramic-based relative chronology for the Szőreg cemetery.
This book provides the first global analysis of the relationship between trade and civilisation from the beginning of civilisation 3000 BC until the modern era 1600 AD. Encompassing the various networks including the Silk Road, the Indian Ocean trade, Near Eastern family traders of the Bronze Age, and the Medieval Hanseatic League, it examines the role of the individual merchant, the products of trade, the role of the state, and the technical conditions for land and sea transport that created diverging systems of trade and in the development of global trade networks. Trade networks, however, were not durable. The book focuses on the establishment and decline of great trading network systems, and how they related to the expansion of civilisation, and to different forms of social and economic exploitation. Case studies focus on local conditions as well as global networks until the sixteenth century when the whole globe was connected by trade.
Warfare in Bronze Age Society takes a fresh look at warfare and its role in reshaping Bronze Age society. The Bronze Age represents the global emergence of a militarized society with a martial culture, materialized in a package of new efficient weapons that remained in use for millennia to come. Warfare became institutionalized and professionalized during the Bronze Age, and a new class of warriors made their appearance. Evidence for this development is reflected in the ostentatious display of weapons in burials and hoards, and in iconography, from rock art to palace frescoes. These new manifestations of martial culture constructed the warrior as a 'Hero' and warfare as 'Heroic'. The case studies, written by an international team of scholars, discuss these and other new aspects of Bronze Age warfare. Moreover, the essays show that warriors also facilitated mobility and innovation as new weapons would have quickly spread from the Mediterranean to northern Europe.
Two co-authored articles in Nature (Haak et al., 2015; Allentoft et al., 2015) caused a sensation. They revealed genetically the mass migration of steppe Yamnaya culture people in the Early Bronze Age to central and northern Europe. The authors considered this event as the basis of the spread of Indo-European languages. In response, the Russian archaeologist, Leo S. Klejn, expresses critical remarks on the genetic inference, and in particular its implications for the problem of the origins of Indo-European languages. These remarks were shown to the authors and they present their objections. Klejn, however, has come to the conclusion that the authors’ objections do not assuage his doubts. He analyses these objections in a further response.
Recent analysis of the wool textiles from the famous Egtved oak coffin burial in Denmark indicated that the wool had been obtained from beyond Denmark. Was this an isolated case or evidence of a large-scale wool trade in the Danish Bronze Age? To investigate the broader pattern of wool provenance, textile manufacturing and trade practices, strontium isotope and organic dye analyses were conducted on textiles from a variety of selected burial contexts. Strontium isotope analysis revealed that at least 75 per cent of the Bronze Age wool samples originated outside present-day Denmark. Results also showed no evidence for the use of organic dyes, thereby supporting the hypothesis that no dyestuffs were used in Nordic Bronze Age textile production. These results challenge extant interpretations of Scandinavian Bronze Age textile provenance, and demonstrate the complexity of exchange networks in wool textiles during this period.
Hofmann and Stockhammer provide an exhaustive and informative overview of German-speaking archaeology (GSA) seen through a set of theoretical lenses that, as they readily admit, may leave other equally important trends in the dark. I shall therefore provide a slightly different perspective, and highlight some interpretive trends that received less coverage in their exposition. Again, it is based on my selective reading of German archaeology, which includes only part of the bibliography of Hofmann and Stockhammer, but then some other works as well. In conclusion I shall discuss what I consider one of the major obstacles for GSA to reach theoretical maturity and a wider international impact.
Recent genetic, isotopic and linguistic research has dramatically changed our understanding of how the Corded Ware Culture in Europe was formed. Here the authors explain it in terms of local adaptations and interactions between migrant Yamnaya people from the Pontic-Caspian steppe and indigenous North European Neolithic cultures. The original herding economy of the Yamnaya migrants gradually gave way to new practices of crop cultivation, which led to the adoption of new words for those crops. The result of this hybridisation process was the formation of a new material culture, the Corded Ware Culture, and of a new dialect, Proto-Germanic. Despite a degree of hostility between expanding Corded Ware groups and indigenous Neolithic groups, stable isotope data suggest that exogamy provided a mechanism facilitating their integration. This article should be read in conjunction with that by Heyd (2017, in this issue).