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The astonishing architectural density and diversity of megalithic monuments along the coastline of the bay of Quiberon and in the gulf of Morbihan have permitted French and foreign archaeologists to establish continually improved classifications. The paper, based on the Morbihan Neolithic data, presents a coherent and dynamic evolutionary sequence of funerary structures from between 5000 and 3000 BC.
Most archaeological interest in the story of European social evolution has looked to the grand picture, as the bands combine and climb at last to achieve states and empires. What about the structure of European Neolithic as it was experienced at home, when the OX, the pig, the sheep and the goat came to live in the domestic unit of the single household?
Excavation of a site not just of the ‘contact period’ but of contact itself gives a new view of those darkest years around 1840 when the remaining free Tasmanian Aboriginal people were tracked down and transported to death in exile.
Investigations in the 19th century demonstrated that Scottish crannogs, the distinctive waterlogged settlements in the shallow waters at the edge of lochs, were very rich in organic remains of all types. Have the crannogs survived, years after so many of the lakes were drained? Are there organic remains left? A new survey and new excavations at the Buiston crannog shows how much has gone, and the great value of what remains.
David-gorod, now in the state of Belarus, is an ancient wood-built settlement in eastern Europe, where astounding preservation of timber buildings, streets and objects gives us a full and organic view of its medieval world. The finds from excavations in 1937–8, conducted by the Państwowe Muzeum Archeologiczne, Warsaw, are at last being published – metal, glass, pottery, leather, bone, stone, textile, along with the wood. The town was an important craft centre with trade links to Old Rus and beyond.
O.G.S. Crawford, founder of ANTIQUITY, flew in the 1920s over an English landscape where the grooves and lines cut into unploughed downlands showed the courses of roads and tracks since earliest times. Similar patterns of crop- and soil-marks in the rain-fed agricultural zone of the Middle East, when studied in the same spirit, also reveal the local and the long-distance routes of a proven great age.
Six years ago, Darvill and colleagues reported (ANTIQUITY 61: 393–408) on the Monuments Protection Programme, a new English initiative to build, from a century of haphazard acts of site protection, a set of balanced judgements and priorities by which to recognize ancient places that are more precious, genuinely of a national importance. The Programme, they tell ANTIQUITY, has now completed the first-stage review of information in local sites and monuments records and is proceeding with the identification of nationally important monuments in every English county. This further paper reports on how the Monuments Protection Programme is addressing landscapes, as distinct from ‘spot sites’ with clear limits, where the matters of defining a ‘relict cultural landscape’ and judging relative value are harder.
Dendrochronology now provides a date, exact nearly to the year, for three Viking Age burial mounds of special importance for chronology in Scandinavia and across early medieval northern Europe. Their dating used to depend on the style of the carved wooden artefacts in the grave goods; now the grave-goods are exactly and independently dated by the tree-rings, those same links will provide dating bridges across the Viking world.
Rings and buttons and beads cut from the marine shell, Spondylus gaederopus, are among the most distinctive exchange items of Neolithic Europe. From sources on the coast of the Mediterranean, these highly valued objects were widely distributed across central Europe. A re-examination of the nature and contexts of shell objects and manufacturing waste at Dimini, a key late Neolithic site on the coast of northern Greece, explores their social role within a Spondylus-working community.
A fragment of Cassis rufa shell, in modern times a species of the Indian Ocean, was reliably reported from the deep Mousterian deposits excavated at the beginning of the century from the Grotte du Prince, Monaco. Because its known habitat is so distant and exotic, there has always been question about the specimen's authenticity. A radiocarbon determination shows it to be recent, and no evidence for long-distance movement of shell in the European Middle Palaeolithic.
A further report on what is being snatched away of the antiquities of Mali. The usual story the world over is of export to cash-rich western collectors, and this is something different, the archaeological site as quarry of recycled materials that are treated by another scale of values.
Peter Woodman's survey-article in ANTIQUITY, ‘Filling the spaces in Irish prehistory’ (66: 295–314), was developed from his paper to the Prehistoric Society, ‘What's new in Irish prehistory?’ Was it actually new? Did it fill the spaces in the periods of earlier Irish prehistory that ANTIQUITY asked Professor Woodman to address? Gabriel Cooney offers a different perspective on Irish prehistory.