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Amber was widely exchanged across prehistoric Europe and was transported long distances from primary sources on the Baltic and North Sea coasts. How did collection and working of amber develop and what were the effects of international exchange on local communities in Northern Europe? The authors present two recent, contrasting amber finds from Thy, northern Jutland: a cache of beads associated with the Early Neolithic Funnelbeaker Culture (4000–3300 BC); and evidence from a Late Bronze Age (1100–500 BC) non-elite settlement that suggests coastal amber collection was independent of elite control. Set within a review of amber's changing roles in prehistoric Thy, these finds evidence shifting local, regional and international connections.
Civilization is often considered to be the culture of state societies, in which urbanism, specialized market exchanges, foreign trade, and traders developed to support large-scale political societies with social stratification, wealth inequalities, and high arts (Childe 1952). The present volume, Trade before Civilizations, as well as the Gothenburg University conference on which it is based, consider the social and political dynamics associated with distant trading as it existed before states, and we have been asked to be discussants and now commentators. Our common research agenda has focused on how political economies underlay the formation of centralized power and social inequality. for both of our lifetimes, we have studied the evolution of intermediate-scaled societies that emerged both before state formation and beyond the domination of states. These societies represent varying political scales and centrality that we have glossed as “trans-egalitarian” and “chiefly” (Earle 1987, 1997; Hayden 1995, 2001a, 2014). In prehistory and history, such societies existed around the world without states and on the periphery of states. The elaboration and significance of trade (long-distance exchange) in these societies involved trans-regional movements of prestige goods (wealth) and people. Such objects carried meaning that structured social relationships in terms of status, roles, values, and authority. To understand wealth-based trade helps us to understand the nature of how social complexity emerged and operated.
Bjerre 7 is a modest Late Bronze Age house in Thy, Denmark. Excellent preservation and full-recovery techniques provided comprehensive evidence of farm self-sufficiency, local exchange, and amber collection for trade. Spatial analyses of ceramics, lithics, plant macrofossils, and amber identified distinctive activity areas at both ends of the house and outside. Routines are discussed for refuse disposal, ceramic use in everyday activities, ad hoc knapping and use of flint tools, plant processing, and amber storage. The household was economically generalized and largely self-sufficient, with limited specialization. Located close to the North Sea, the householders collected raw amber for trade. Metal was obtained from outside for a small-scale, household industry. Although some division of labour is likely, it seems that the whole household engaged in the diverse activities identified on site.
At the onset of the 2nd millennium bc, a wool economy emerged across continental Europe. Archaeological, iconographical, and written sources from the Near East and the Aegean show that a Bronze Age wool economy involved considerable specialised labour and large scale animal husbandry. Resting only on archaeological evidence, detailed knowledge of wool economies in Bronze Age Europe has been limited, but recent investigations at the Terramare site of Montale, in northern Italy, document a high density of spindle whorls that strongly supports the existence of village-level specialised manufacture of yarn. Production does not appear to have been attached to an emerging elite nor was it fully independent of social constraints. We propose that, although probably managed by local elites, wool production was a community-based endeavour oriented towards exports aimed at obtaining locally unavailable raw materials and goods.
Michael Mann and Immanuel Wallerstein, our two greatest macrohistorical scholars, delivered on their long-standing promise to explain the origins of our times. We do have now a much clearer and broader vision of the past, if one cares to notice. The world in the meantime looks as complex and contradictory as ever. Many people despair that it would ever get better. Will it? Our tribute to the life achievement of Michael Mann goes in two steps. We heavily draw on his theories, and we must also draw on his own irreverence for we are going to disagree with Mann's rejection of social evolution. It is far from scholastic disputation. The evolutionary logic is not merely an academic construct but rather a matter of ideological and political power to change other sources of power in the coming decades.
Knowledge on power
After 1945, the world reconstruction boosted mightily the modern intellectual ambition to explain scientifically the patterns of human societies from the beginnings of history and into the future. The departure point was perhaps in the new grave awareness of the threats to life on earth, from the fascist exterminationism in the recent past to the looming future possibilities of nuclear war and global environmental disasters. The fears, however, were outweighed by tremendous optimism and the “can do” spirit of the age. The universal expectation of renewed progress was supported by victory over fascism, the postwar economic growth and welfare expansion, the end of terror and the beginnings of democratization in the communist Eastern Europe, and the independence of former colonies and their resolve to “develop.” Not in the least, worldwide expansion of university education and rapid accumulation of research led to a renewed hope in the abilities of modern science. The key collective actors of the post-1945 transformations were national states and the popular movements aspiring to become national states. Hence the centrality of states, state-directed development, movements, revolutions, and their ideologies for the research agenda of what became called (arguably too narrowly) historical sociology.
In the 1970s and the 1980s, historical sociology experienced its “Golden Age” prepared by the accumulation of social science research across many countries and academic disciplines. The theoretical formulations reconsidering the canonical topics of social science arrived in rapid succession. This “unthinking” of the nineteenth-century paradigms cleared a lot of underbrush.
In the second millennium cal BC, a new metal conquered Europe: the alloy of copper and tin that improved the quality of tools and weapons. This development, we argue, initiated a framework for a new political economy. We explore how a political economy approach may help understand the European Bronze Age by focussing on regional comparative advantages in long-distance trade and resulting bottlenecks in commodity flows. Links existed in commodity chains, where obligated labour and ownership of resources helped mobilize surpluses, thus creating potential for social segments to control the production and flows of critical goods. The political economy of Bronze Age Europe would thus represent a transformation in how would-be leaders mobilized resources to support their political ends. The long-distance trade in metals and other commodities created a shift from local group ownership towards increasingly individual strategies to obtain wealth from macro-regional trade. We construct our argument to make sense of available data, but recognize that our model's primary purpose is to structure future research to test the model.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is characterised by oxidative stress, but little is known about the associations between antioxidant status and all-cause mortality in adults with this disease. The objective of the present study was to examine the prospective associations between concentrations of α- and β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, Se, vitamin C and α-tocopherol and all-cause mortality among US adults with obstructive lung function. Data collected from 1492 adults aged 20–79 years with obstructive lung function in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III (1988–94) were used. Through 2006, 629 deaths were identified during a median follow-up period of 14 years. After adjustment for demographic variables, the concentrations of the following antioxidants modelled as continuous variables were found to be inversely associated with all-cause mortality among adults with obstructive lung function: α-carotene (P= 0·037); β-carotene (P= 0·022); cryptoxanthin (P= 0·022); lutein/zeaxanthin (P= 0·004); total carotenoids (P= 0·001); vitamin C (P< 0·001). In maximally adjusted models, only the concentrations of lycopene (P= 0·013) and vitamin C (P= 0·046) were found to be significantly and inversely associated with all-cause mortality. No effect modification by sex was detected, but the association between lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations and all-cause mortality varied by smoking status (Pinteraction= 0·048). The concentrations of lycopene and vitamin C were inversely associated with all-cause mortality in this cohort of adults with obstructive lung function.
As archaeologists, we seek to understand variation and change in past human societies. This goal necessitates a comparative approach, and comparisons justify the broad cross-cultural and diachronic scope of our work. Without comparisons we sink into the culture-bound theorizing against which anthropology and archaeology have long sought to broaden social science research. By undertaking comparisons that incorporate long-term social variability, archaeologists not only improve our understanding of the past, but also open the door to meaningful transdisciplinary research. Archaeologists have unique and comprehensive data sets whose analysis can contribute to dialogues surrounding contemporary issues and the myriad challenges of our era.
In the past two decades, the pendulum seems to have swung away from comparative research in archaeology. Many archaeologists focus on detailed contextual descriptions of individual cases, and only a few have dedicated themselves to explicit comparative work. Yet in that same time span, fieldwork has expanded tremendously throughout the world, leading to an explosion of well-documented diachronic data on sites and regions. We now have substantial detail on the variation inherent in phenomena such as cultural assemblages, settlement patterns, and economic activity. New methods, from dating techniques to digital data processing, promote comparative analysis and greatly advance our understanding of human societies and change. The time is ripe for a renewed commitment to comparative research in archaeology.
How were household economies organized in prehistory? In most stateless societies, households dominate much of everyday life, including making a living, sociability, and ritual. A family produced much of what it consumed and exchanged reciprocally with neighboring households. Some specialization and exchange existed certainly, but they were apparently concentrated on special tools and social valuables. With the emergence of political and market economies, households adjusted, but the scope, tempo, and reasons for these adjustments are not well understood.
Premodern economies were composed of four intertwined sectors, involving household subsistence, social relationships among neighbors, political mobilizing for finance, and mercantile trading. We focus here on the household as the nexus of these economic sectors, creating a field of necessities and opportunities that varied temporally and cross-culturally. All human societies have intimate household-size units, which typically are primary constituents in decision making, production and consumption, and childrearing (Johnson and Earle 2000). Because households vary greatly in composition and activities (D’Altroy and Hastorf 2001; Netting et al. 1984), they are good social units for cross-cultural comparison. Households are typically tethered to a house or a residential compound, which allows archaeologists to study the material remains of their activities and social conditions (Allison 1999; D’Altroy and Hastorf 2001; Hendon 1996; Wilk and Rathje 1982).
We describe the Bronze Age ceramic economy of the Benta Valley in Hungary. In the Bronze Age, long-distance trade in metals, metal objects, and other specialty items became central to expansive prestige goods exchange through Europe. Was that exchange in wealth, however, linked to broader developments of an integrated market system? The beginnings of market systems in prehistory are poorly understood. We suggest a means to investigate marketing by studying the changing ceramic economy of a region, rather than at a single site. Analysis of the ceramic inventory collected as part of the Benta Valley Project strongly suggests that, although ceramic production was quite sophisticated and probably specialized, exchange was highly localized (mostly within 10 km) and conducted through personalized community networks. Our ceramic study used three progressively finer-scaled analyses: inventorying ceramic forms and decoration to evaluate consumption patterns, petrographic analysis to describe manufacturing sequences, and instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) to describe exchange. We conclude that, based on present evidence, market systems had not developed in Hungary during the Bronze Age.
The following universities participated as partners in the projects: University College London, Cambridge University, University of Southampton, University of Oslo, University of Gothenburg, Northern Illinois University, Northwestern University, Stanford University, the University and later the Spanish Academy in Santiago de Compostela. Other institutions: the National Heritage Boards from Denmark and Sweden, the Matrica Müzeum in Szazhalombatta, Magyar Nemzeti Müzeum, the Superintendenze in Trapani, the museum in Salemi, the Thy Archaeological Museum, the rock-art museum in Vitlycke.