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Gender is under focus in prehistoric archaeology, with traditional binary models being questioned and alternatives formulated. Quantification, however, is generally lacking, and alternative models are rarely tested against the archaeological evidence. In this article, we test the binary hypothesis of gender for prehistoric Central Europe based on a selection of seven published burial sites dating from the Early Neolithic to the Late Bronze Age. Results show that the binary model holds for the majority of individuals, but also supports the existence of non-binary variants. We address such variants as ‘minorities’ rather than ‘exceptions’, as only the former can be integrated in interpretive models. However, we also find that quantification is undermined by several sources of error and systematic bias.
This article is based on an EAA session in Kiel in 2021, in which thirteen contributors provide their response to Robb and Harris's (2018) overview of studies of gender in the European Neolithic and Bronze Age, with a reply by Robb and Harris. The central premise of their 2018 article was the opposition of ‘contextual Neolithic gender’ to ‘cross-contextual Bronze Age gender’, which created uneasiness among the four co-organizers of the Kiel meeting. Reading Robb and Harris's original article leaves the impression that there is an essentialist ‘Neolithic’ and ‘Bronze Age’ gender, the former being under-theorized, unclear, and unstable, the latter binary, unchangeable, and ideological. While Robb and Harris have clearly advanced the discussion on gender, the perspectives and case studies presented here, while critical of their views, take the debate further, painting a more complex and diverse picture that strives to avoid essentialism.
A decade ago, archaeologists discovered the site of a Bronze Age battlefield in the Tollense Valley in north-eastern Germany. Dated to the early thirteenth century BC, the remains of over 140 individuals have been documented, along with many associated bronze objects. Here, the authors present a new assemblage of 31 objects from the site, including three bronze cylinders that may be the fastenings of an organic container. The objects are similar to those found in Bronze Age burials of southern Central Europe, and may represent the personal equipment of a warrior from that region who died on the battlefield in Northern Europe.
Weighing devices are the earliest material correlates of the rational quantification of economic value, and they yield great potential in the study of trade in pre-literate societies. However, the knowledge of European Bronze Age metrology is still underdeveloped in comparison to Eastern Mediterranean regions, mostly due to the lack of a proper scientific debate. This paper introduces a theoretical and methodological framework for the study of standard weight-systems in pre-literate societies, and tests it on a large sample of potential balance weights distributed between Southern Italy and Central Europe during the Bronze Age (second–early first millennium bc). A set of experimental expectations is defined on the basis of comparisons with ancient texts, archaeological cases and modern behaviour. Concurrent typological, use-wear, statistical and contextual analyses allow to cross-check the evidence against the expectations, and to validate the balance-weight hypothesis for the sample under analysis. The paper urges a reappraisal of an independent weight metrology for Bronze Age Europe, based on adequate methodologies and a critical perspective.
Crises are thresholds in human history, often marking substantial transformations in societies. Crises, however, are not instants in time. They start, unfold, and develop in a process that is often traumatic for social systems, with outcomes ranging from catastrophe to complete recovery. In this article, catastrophic models are employed to understand a non-catastrophic outcome: the complete recovery that nuragic Sardinia experienced after a long crisis, caused in the first place by unsustainable strategies of territorial expansion. Starting from the premises of the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, it is argued that the transformation of nuragic society was the best way of avoiding the constraints that the social structure imposed on the perspective of a sustainable growth. The study is based on a geostatistical analysis of a large sample of settlements, and it attempts to quantify population growth ratios for the Late Bronze Age.
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