To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
This paper describes the results from a project to obtain radiocarbon determinations from Early Bronze Age log coffin burials. Log coffins have been recognised as a burial tradition since antiquarian excavations uncovered the first examples. However, comparatively few are associated with radiocarbon determinations and many old determinations are very imprecise. To address this, seven log coffin burials were identified across England, and 11 samples from these were submitted for radiocarbon dating. The dates from the project were reviewed with previously obtained reliable determinations to reconsider the origins and development of the log coffin burial by region. The resulting study indicates that the earliest log coffins were associated with Beaker burials but that regional variations involving different rites soon developed.
Studies of early fourth-millennium BC Britain have typically focused on the Early Neolithic sites of Wessex and Orkney; what can the investigation of sites located in areas beyond these core regions add? The authors report on excavations (2011–2019) at Dorstone Hill in Herefordshire, which have revealed a remarkable complex of Early Neolithic monuments: three long barrows constructed on the footprints of three timber buildings that had been deliberately burned, plus a nearby causewayed enclosure. A Bayesian chronological model demonstrates the precocious character of many of the site's elements and strengthens the evidence for the role of tombs and houses/halls in the creation and commemoration of foundational social groups in Neolithic Britain.
In the light of discussions surrounding the social changes attributed to the arrival of the Corded Ware culture in central Europe, here we investigate the economic strategies of one of the cultural complexes of the immediately preceding Late Neolithic. The Cham culture of southern Bavaria is characterised by a variety of economic choices but problems remain in synthesising and combining archaeozoological and archaeobotanical evidence. Using lipid residue analysis from Cham culture pottery excavated at the unenclosed settlement of Riedling, Lower Bavaria, we succeed in identifying a dairying economy at this time. Compound-specific lipid radiocarbon dates are then combined with other samples to provide a formal estimate for the duration of activity at Riedling and the first Bayesian chronological model for the Cham culture as a whole. Although data are currently not fine-grained enough to distinguish between competing models for site permanence, we suggest that the Cham culture pattern fits into a wider central European trend of greater mobility and economic flexibility in the pre-Corded Ware horizon, concluding that key economic strategies previously associated with ‘steppe invasions’ were already present in the preceding centuries. Finally, the demonstrated use of cups for milk-based products, as opposed to alcoholic drinks as previously suggested, leads us to propose possible alternative uses and users for these items.
Land divisions are ubiquitous features of the British countryside. Field boundaries, enclosures, pit alignments, and other forms of land division have been used to shape and delineate the landscape over thousands of years. While these divisions are critical for understanding economies and subsistence, the organization of tenure and property, social structure and identity, and their histories of use have remained unclear. Here, the authors present the first robust, Bayesian statistical chronology for land division over three millennia within a study region in England. Their innovative approach to investigating long-term change demonstrates the unexpected scale of later ‘prehistoric’ land demarcation, which may correspond to the beginnings of increasing social hierarchy.
The emergence of separate cemeteries for disposal of the dead represents a profound shift in mortuary practice in the Late Neolithic of southeast Europe, with a new emphasis on the repeated use of a specific space distinct from, though still often close to, settlements. To help to time this shift more precisely, this paper presents 25 dates from 21 burials in the large cemetery at Cernica, in the Lower Danube valley in southern Romania, which are used to formally model the start, duration of use and end of the cemetery. A further six dates were obtained from four contexts for the nearby settlement. Careful consideration is given to the possibility of environmental and dietary offsets. The preferred model, without freshwater reservoir offsets, suggests that use of the Cernica cemetery probably began in 5355–5220 cal BC (95% probability) and ended in 5190–5080 cal BC (28% probability) or 5070–4940 (67% probability). The implications of this result are discussed, including with reference to other cemeteries of similar age in the region, the nature of social relations being projected through mortuary ritual, and the incorporation of older, Mesolithic, ways of doing things into Late Neolithic mortuary practice.
The Neolithic in Britain saw the first appearance of domestic plant and animal resources, pottery, polished stone axes, monuments, and new house structures. With the introduction of domesticates and associated subsistence strategies, the Neolithic represents a significant change in human–environment interaction. Other changes have been observed in the palynological record of Britain in the early fourth millennium cal BC, including the elm decline, and archaeologists and paleobotanists have long discussed the degree of human involvement in this. This paper presents the first Bayesian statistical analysis of the elm decline using the case study of the east of Yorkshire and Humberside and key sites in west Yorkshire, and evidence for the last hunter-gatherer Mesolithic material culture and the first Neolithic material culture record. This region is critical because it is the only area of Britain and Ireland where we have robust and accurate published estimates for the timing of the latest Mesolithic activity and timing for the earliest Neolithic activity. Unpacking this perceived chronological correlation between the elm decline and the start of the Neolithic is critical to understanding the scale of human–environment modification at this time, and the nature of the first Neolithic societies in Britain.
The western seaways – an arc of sea stretching from the Channel Islands in the south, up through the Isles of Scilly, the Isle of Man, and the Outer Hebrides to Orkney in the north – have long been seen as crucial to our understanding of the processes which led to the arrival of the Neolithic in Britain and Ireland in the centuries around 4000 cal bc. The western seaways have not, however, been considered in detail within any of the recent studies addressing the radiocarbon chronology of the earliest Neolithic in that wider region. This paper presents a synthesis of all existing 5th and 4th millennia cal bc radiocarbon dates from islands within the western seaways, including 50 new results obtained specifically for this study. While the focus here is insular in a literal sense, the project’s results have far reaching implications for our understanding of the Mesolithic–Neolithic transition in Britain and Ireland and beyond. The findings broadly fit well with the Gathering Time model of Whittle et al., suggesting that the earliest dated Neolithic in this zone falls into the c. 3900–3700 cal bc bracket. However, it is also noted that our current chronological understanding is based on comparatively few dates spread across a large area. Consequently, it is suggested that both further targeted work and an approach that incorporates an element of typo-chronology (as well as absolute dating) is necessary if we are to move forward our understanding of the processes associated with the appearance of the first Neolithic material culture and practices in this key region.
Radiocarbon dating has had profound implications for archaeological understanding. These have been identified as various “revolutions,” with the latest—Bayesian chronological statistical analyses of large datasets—hailed as a “revolution in understanding.” This paper argues that the full implications of radiocarbon (14C) data and interpretation on archaeological theory have yet to be recognized, and it suggests that responses in Britain to earlier revolutions in archaeological understanding offer salutary lessons for contemporary archaeological practice. This paper draws on the work of David Clarke and Colin Renfrew to emphasize the importance of critical considerations of the relationships between archaeological theory and scientific method, and to emphasize that seemingly neutral aspects of archaeological thought are highly laden interpretatively, and have significant implications for the kinds of archaeology that we write.
Radiocarbon dating and Bayesian chronological modelling, undertaken as part of the investigation by the Times of Their Lives project into the development of Late Neolithic settlement and pottery in Orkney, has provided precise new dating for the Grooved Ware settlement of Barnhouse, excavated in 1985–91. Previous understandings of the site and its pottery are presented. A Bayesian model based on 70 measurements on 62 samples (of which 50 samples are thought to date accurately the deposits from which they were recovered) suggests that the settlement probably began in the later 32nd century cal bc (with Houses 2, 9, 3 and perhaps 5a), possibly as a planned foundation. Structure 8 – a large, monumental structure that differs in character from the houses – was probably built just after the turn of the millennium. Varied house durations and replacements are estimated. House 2 went out of use before the end of the settlement, and Structure 8 was probably the last element to be abandoned, probably during the earlier 29th century cal bc. The Grooved Ware pottery from the site is characterised by small, medium-sized, and large vessels with incised and impressed decoration, including a distinctive, false-relief, wavy-line cordon motif. A considerable degree of consistency is apparent in many aspects of ceramic design and manufacture over the use-life of the settlement, the principal change being the appearance, from c. 3025–2975 cal bc, of large coarse ware vessels with uneven surfaces and thick applied cordons, and of the use of applied dimpled circular pellets. The circumstances of new foundation of settlement in the western part of Mainland are discussed, as well as the maintenance and character of the site. The pottery from the site is among the earliest Grooved Ware so far dated. Its wider connections are noted, as well as the significant implications for our understanding of the timing and circumstances of the emergence of Grooved Ware, and the role of material culture in social strategies.
New radiocarbon dates for the Neolithic settlement at Pool on Sanday, Orkney, are interpreted in a formal chronological framework. Phases 2.2 and 2.3, during which flat-based Grooved Ware pottery with incised decoration developed, have been modelled as probably dating to between the 31st and 28th centuries cal bc. There followed a hiatus of a century or so, before the resumption of occupation in Phase 3, which has a different Grooved Ware style featuring the use of applied decoration. This has been modelled as probably dating from the 26th to the 24th centuries cal bc. The implications of these results are discussed for the emergence and development of Grooved Ware, and for the trajectory of settlement and monumentality on Sanday.
Bayesian analysis is now routinely applied for the construction of site-specific stratigraphic chronological models. Other approaches have analyzed the chronology of phases of archaeological activity across regions. The available radiocarbon results—the nature of the samples and their associations—provide the basis for what chronological questions it is possible to address for any site or region. In dealing with regional analyses, due consideration must be made of data selection. While data selection might be a relatively self-evident consideration in the analysis of a site chronology, working with data from a larger region poses a number of specific data selection issues. Robust association between dated samples and a particular type of diagnostic material culture or site may provide one means of producing regional chronologies. However, if the activity under investigation includes a number of different cultural traits, which are related but with each having a slightly different chronological currency, defining the temporal end of data selection becomes more problematic. This article presents one approach, using a case study from the British Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, with 880 simulation OxCal models used to investigate the effect of variously defining the end of a regional archaeological phase. The results emphasize that for a regional case study, sensitivity analysis may provide a useful tool to ensure representative models; the study also highlights the importance of comparing multiple model posteriors.
We present radiocarbon dates, stable isotope data, and osteological analysis of the remains of a minimum of 17 individuals deposited in the western part of the burial chamber at Coldrum, Kent. This is one of the Medway group of megalithic monuments – sites with shared architectural motifs and no very close parallels elsewhere in Britain – whose location has been seen as important in terms of the origins of Neolithic material culture and practices in Britain. The osteological analysis identified the largest assemblage of cut-marked human bone yet reported from a British early Neolithic chambered tomb; these modifications were probably undertaken as part of burial practices. The stable isotope dataset shows very enriched δ15N values, the causes of which are not entirely clear, but could include consumption of freshwater fish resources. Bayesian statistical modelling of the radiocarbon dates demonstrates that Coldrum is an early example of a British Neolithic burial monument, though the tomb was perhaps not part of the earliest Neolithic evidence in the Greater Thames Estuary. The site was probably initiated after the first appearance of other early Neolithic regional phenomena including an inhumation burial, early Neolithic pottery and a characteristic early Neolithic post-and-slot structure, and perhaps of Neolithic flint extraction in the Sussex mines. Coldrum is the only site in the Medway monument group to have samples which have been radiocarbon dated, and is important both for regional studies of the early Neolithic and wider narratives of the processes, timing, and tempo of Neolithisation across Britain
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.