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TAG 2016 Southampton

S34. General Session

Contributor Abstracts:

Concept of Megalithism in the 21st Century Archaeology of India

Dr P. Binodini Devi (Imphal, India)

Megalithism is a death cultural phenomenon, which starts from Neolithic period onwards and continues up to the historical period through the Bronze Age. It spreads widely to almost all the parts of the world during the Neolithic period. In Japan it continues up to the middle of the seventh century A.D. until the then Emperor Kotoku prohibited it. Such cultural element is not being seen, as living tradition in other parts of the world. In North East India, however, particularly in Manipur, it is still practised as a living tradition by some non-Christian tribes. The Liangmai tribe is one of the indigenous and largest tribes of this state, who continue this tradition with some modification. In this paper the author would like to document the present concept of megalithic tradition in this part of India as far as the material allows. The main objective is to make an interpretative visualization before it dies out in course of time.

Continuity and Variation of Prehistoric Traditions - A Post Processual Study From Bambooti, A Late Neolithic Site In Western Assam

Dr Anamika Gogoi Duarah (Anthropology, Arya Vidyapeeth College, India)

The study on the post processual Archaeology in Northeast India is a recent phenomenon. The cultural configuration of Northeastern India has a deep root of its prehistoric origin, the remnants of which are still visible in the life ways of the people of this region. In spite of the vast scope of post processual study in this region of India, the study is still in an initial stage. The present study deals with the discovery of a late Neolithic site in Western Assam the insitu evidences of which have led us to establish the past present continuum of the culture on the basis of archaeological evidences and contemporary culture. It is an archaeoethnological study dealing with known to unknown facts of a society and thereby trying to relate present with the past.

The ethnographic composition, their settlement and subsistence pattern, material cultures and related age-old intangible traditions in the area under study are some of the most vital clues that can lead one to trace back the ethnohistory of the people to the prehistoric past. The strong base of the existence of prehistoric tool tradition clustered with hand made pottery of Bambooti, a late Neolithic site in western Assam put more impetus to this problem. Although the stone tool tradition not only intruded into the metal using stage but it has also penetrated into the metal tool tradition with the changes in raw material and a little bit morphometric changes. Moreover, Bambooti pottery tradition is still in focus as a surviving prehistoric tradition with a minute stylistic change. In this context it is worth mentioning that both the significant prehistoric cultural items-the Neolithic celts and the pottery ceased to exist in the foothills of Assam but their impact on the traditional societies is still reckonable. The role of Neolithic celts transformed into intangible heritage associated with beliefs and myths while the pottery remained almost static in the unaltered state. In fact, without considering he context, it is almost impossible to draw a line between the past and the present.

Under the influence: communal drinking, ceramic styles and identity in the 3rd Millennium BC Syrian Jezirah

Melissa Sharp (University of Tuebingen, Germany)

Beer drinking in the ancient world was not neutral but imbibed with social meanings. This paper explores drinking practices in Syria during the 3rd millennium BC through ceramic analysis. A comparison of frequencies, type and wares of vessels from six sites in the Syrian Jezirah, reveals that drinking practices may have been a key marker of regional identity. By studying these data from a phenomenological perspective, new approaches to understanding regional identities can be explored.

Seascapes, materiality and material culture: the early Cyclades

Christopher Nuttall (Uppsala universitet, Sweden)

For Mediterranean archaeology, discussion of the sea has traditionally focused on nautical technology, shipwrecks, and trade networks. The sea has been viewed as a passive absence of land; the voided space between mainlands and islands. These views have been challenged recently (Berg 2010; Broodbank 2000; Vavouranakis 2011) and through archaeological and ethnographic work on seascapes in global archaeology (McNiven 2008), it is becoming clear that the sea can be a textured and knowledgeable space, which can actively influence human behaviour. At the same time, the seascape can be imbued with meaning. The seascape is not just a functional space to be ‘used’, it is a component of the space of a society (Steinberg 2001).

For the Cycladic islanders of the Early Bronze Age (EBA), the sea was an ever-present component of daily life, essential for community continuity, as well as a potential source of symbolic significance. At this time, we begin to see the emergence of material culture and practices emphasising difference in the Early Cycladic archaeological record. This paper will therefore investigate the ways in which the Early Cycladic seascape was visualised and referenced through material culture and structured practices in the expression of social differentiation. The consideration of the early Cyclades allows us to tackle one of the more enduring paradigms of Aegean archaeology, namely the ‘international spirit’ of the EBA II period (Renfrew 1972), and how it was intrinsically cognitively linked to the Early Cycladic seascape and its materiality. 

Archaeology visualisation in textbooks (in secondary school in Estonia)

Liia Vijand (University of Tartu, Estonia)

Through school we can engage youth to understand archaeology and protect our heritage. Archaeology is taught as a part of history lessons not as a specific subject in the Estonian school system. In this presentation I will give an overview of my analysis about archaeology visualisation in secondary school history textbooks prehistory and medieval chapters. I compare history textbooks of two different publishers and I do a short digression to popular magazines like “Amazing history” and “Mystical history” archaeology illustrations.

I follow the idea that scientific interpretation has to be in harmony with all the data, logically connected and understandable for youth. Therefore visual material should support text to make it more intelligible. Students should be allowed to interpret archaeological data, so that they can understand the mechanism. For example, students have to describe a burial and interpret it by looking at photos, drawings and data. That kind of material cannot all be in paper textbooks, but it is possible to put it in an e-textbook and in teacher extras and teacher can show extra material in his presentations. It is important that text and illustrative material will bond each other and form a complex approach. Therefore photos, drawings, reconstructions, maps, schemes, charts are extremely relevant.

Teaching a history is a dialog with a past people and as a teacher you’ll have to bring this into classroom and it is much easier to do when you have supportive material. 

Runestones and Wheelheads: The Cultural Entanglement of Celtic and Viking Crosses on the Isle of Man

Rebecca Davies (Truro College, Plymouth University)

This paper will examine the impact of the art of the Manx crosses on both contemporary and modern culture by examining several examples observed and photographed by the author when she did some voluntary work for the Manx National Museum in 2015. The Manx crosses are an extensive body of artefacts on the island. Most parish churches now hold a collection of these distinctive early medieval art forms. They are examples both of Celtic knotwork and Viking designs, and the inscriptions range from Irish ogham, through Viking runes to Latin script. Phillip Kermode was the late nineteenth century authority on Manx Crosses. He discovered that these crosses carry some of the earliest known illustrations of the stories of the Norse sagas. For this the Icelandic government made him a Knight of the Order of the Falcon.

This distinctive art has been adopted as part of modern Manx culture. It materialises in an entanglement of meanings and forms across different media and different contexts. Examples include re-presentations on stamps and banknotes, modern crosses such as the recreations (not replicas) outside the cathedral in Peel, (of which I will show my rubbings) and the interesting re-interpretation in the folk village of Cregneash. 

Geo-Historiographical Prism: A Visual Device For The History Of Archaeological Thought

José Ramiro Pimenta (University of Porto, Portugal)

In this study I aim at approaching the history of Archaeology by treating time and space as resources that enter directly into the fabric of academic life, emphasising the ‘political ecology’ of research, the ‘situational character’ of scientific identity, and deciphering ‘contextual configurations’ of power-knowledge. With this in view, I would propose to deal with citation networks emphasising continuity and connectedness of the sequence of events that are needed to fulfil a complete research programme. The device I call ‘geo-historiographical prism’ (please see fig. below) intends to depict and to help to interpret ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ scientific research programmes as academic-biographic paths delineated in vast but not entirely ‘free’ social networks both internal and external to science-producing institutions: i) the activity of individuals is constrained, defining individual time-space prisms of acceptance; ii) academic-scientific life defines the conditions of reunion (conferences, workshops, laboratories…) that validade research within formal and informal colleges; iii) scientific-academic institutions exercise power through gatekeeping; iv) competition among different research-programmes often display (and are structured by) time-spatial institutional coherence. Hopefully, in the end it would be possible to suggest that the conditions of production and diffusion of scientific knowledge depend on a suite of locations chronotopically arranged through time and scale. 

Heidegger’s Archäologie: Dasein Past, Present and Classical

James Whitley (University of Cardiff)

During the 1990s concepts formulated by the German philosopher Martin Heidegger were widely used by Anglophone prehistorians in the interpretation of such things as megaliths in North Western Europe and their place in the landscape. Such ‘phenomenological’ uses of Heidegger’s philosophy in prehistory assume that the Dasein of past peoples is to some extent recoverable – a point on which Heidegger himself was unclear. This paper attempts to explore this point by looking at Heidegger’s only venture into what could be called archaeology – or rather Archäologie – in the late 1950s. This was his trip around the major Classical sites of ancient Greece (Delphi, Athens and in particular Olympia) published in his Sojourns (a book much easier to read than ‘Being and Time’). Here the influence of his partial education in aspects of Classical Archaeology – Ernst Buschor’s course on ‘Greek sculpture from Parmenides to Plotinus’, the only archaeological course which Heidegger was known to have taken as an undergraduate – can be detected. Heidegger clearly thought that the Dasein of ancient (that is Archaic and Classical) Greece was, to a degree, recoverable. But it remains unclear whether this was a coherent, fully-worked out philosophical position or simply reflects a widespread German cultural assumption that there existed a special affinity between ancient Greece and nineteenth- and twentieth-century Germany. These issues need to be explored if the long-term viability of any kind of ‘phenomenological’ archaeology is to be properly assessed.


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