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This Element was written to meet the theoretical and methodological challenge raised by the third science revolution and its implications for how to study and interpret European prehistory. The first section is therefore devoted to a historical and theoretical discussion of how to practice interdisciplinarity in this new age, and following from that, how to define some crucial, but undertheorized categories, such as culture, ethnicity and various forms of migration. The author thus integrates the new results from archaeogenetics into an archaeological frame of reference, to produce a new and theoretically informed historical narrative, one that also invites debate, but also one that identifies areas of uncertainty, where more research is needed.
Trade before Civilization explores the role that long-distance exchange played in the establishment and/or maintenance of social complexity, and its role in the transformation of societies from egalitarian to non-egalitarian. Bringing together research by an international and methodologically diverse team of scholars, it analyses the relationship between long-distance trade and the rise of inequality. The volume illustrates how elites used exotic prestige goods to enhance and maintain their elevated social positions in society. Global in scope, it offers case studies of early societies and sites in Europe, Asia, Oceania, North America, and Mesoamerica. Deploying a range of inter-disciplinary and cutting-edge theoretical approaches from a cross-cultural framework, the volume offers new insights and enhances our understanding of socio-political evolution. It will appeal to archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, conflict theorists, and ethnohistorians, as well as economists seeking to understand the nexus between imported luxury items and cultural evolution.
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.
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.
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.
The emergence of the full Bronze Age after 1500 BC was a time of profound changes throughout Europe: new offensive and defensive weapon technologies appeared as well as chariots, and with that new forms of warfare and settlements. It is argued that mobile warrior groups were important in the spread of these innovations, organising and controlling trade. During this phase warfare became (semi-) professionalized. It is suggested in this chapter that the transformations were in part violent and led to migrations and the rise of new forms of centralized and decentralized forms of political economies.