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Article contents

Travellers' tales and science-based archaeology: ex oriente lux revisited

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 January 2015

A. Bernard Knapp*
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, United Kingdom

Extract

Ling and Stos-Gale (above, p. 206) end their study on a safe, if rather vague, note: “[w]e could, perhaps, consider the maritime-themed rock art depictions [of ships and copper oxide ingots] as records of travellers’ tales, where representations of reality mingle with myths, magic and sailors' stories”. Yes, perhaps we could, since at least two of the ingot depictions (Kville 156:1 at Torsbo, Norrköping) look strikingly similar—as the authors note—to the ‘pillow ingots’ (Kissenbarren) known from the Mediterranean world. Or, perhaps, we could remain more cautious before even broaching the idea of interconnectedness between Late Bronze Age Scandinavia and the eastern Mediterranean. Such a suggestion requires a lot more faith in the basic arguments of Kristiansen and Larsson (2005)—namely, that Europe and the Mediterranean formed a massive, open network through which warrior elites and others travelled at will—than I am able to muster. For Kristiansen and Larsson, cultural contact and cultural change ultimately still flow ex oriente—thus, they return whence Childe began. Yet whereas their work is an attempt at synthesis, not analysis, Ling and Stos-Gale have a stab at analysis, of the lead isotope variety. The question is how well they succeed.

Type
Debate
Information
Antiquity , Volume 89 , Issue 343 , February 2015 , pp. 219 - 220
Copyright
Copyright © Antiquity Publications Ltd., 2015 

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References

Brill, R.H. & Wampler, J.M.. 1967. Isotope studies of ancient lead. American Journal of Archaeology 71: 6377. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/501589 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kristiansen, K. & Larsson, T.. 2005. The rise of Bronze Age society: travels, transmissions and transformations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Ling, J., Stos-Gale, Z., Grandin, L., Billström, K., Hjärthner-Holdar, E. & Persson, P.-O.. 2014. Moving metals II: provenancing Scandinavian Bronze Age artefacts by lead isotope and elemental analyses. Journal of Archaeological Science 41: 106–32. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2013.07.018 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pernicka, E. 2014. Provenance determination of archaeological metal objects, in Roberts, B.W. & Thornton, C. (ed.) Archaeometallurgy in global perspective: methods and syntheses: 239–68. Berlin: Springer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-9017-3_11 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pollard, A.M. 2009. What a long, strange trip it's been: lead isotopes and archaeology, in Shortland, A.J., Freestone, I.C. & Rehren, Th. (ed.) From mine to microscope: advances in the study of ancient technology: 181–89. Oxford: Oxbow.Google Scholar
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