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Pure luck played an important part in determining my scientific career. As far as I can remember, when a schoolboy I never seriously considered devoting myself to historical studies, let alone to archaeology arid prehistory. In fact, I then had no clear predilection for any particular, well-defined field. 1 was a rather good pupil in most subjects; only physics inspired a profound dislike in me and this barred the road to the exact sciences. My father made his living as a teacher and probably without realizing it, I wanted to follow in his footsteps. The influence of a few exccllcnt teachers eventually made me decide to read classics at the University of Ghent. Soon however, I grew strongly disappointed by my chosen subject and niy professors could not kindle in me any fervent lovc for the endless rehashing of antique texts or for critical texteditions. Luckily I was attracted almost immediately by a remarkable man, Hubert \.’an de IVeerd, whose extensive courses included riot only the whole range of ancient history but also the archaeology and art history of that same period. His personal interest, however, was in Gallo-Kornan archaeology, and precisely at the time when I first met hini he had just finished the first large-scale operation undertaken in Belgium, to wit the excavation of the townwall of ‘I’ongeren, the antique Aturrtucu Tungrotmi. I xi the course of his academic career, Van de 12’eerd spent the best part of his time and efforts on the training of his students; he thus created a solid school of historians and archaeologists, the best of whom were to occupy important positions in Flemish intellectual life.
The analysis of phytoliths, microscopic pieces of silica formed within the cells of living plants, is a recent addition to archaeobotanical studies in the New World (Carbone, 1977; Pearsall, 1978; Lewis, 1981; Robinson, 1983; Piperno, 1983, 1984, in press, a; Piperno & Clary, 1984). Because these mineralized bodies are very resistant to destruction in soils over long periods of time, they have enormous, and for the most part, untapped potential in ecological reconstruction. However, phytoliths are at the stage in their development as an analytical technique where much of the Easic research into the taxonomy of their bodies, their distribution in soils, and their application to various research problems remains to be resolved. Hence, as various authors have indicated (Pearsall, 1982 ; Rovner, 1983; Piperno, 1983), a considerable amount of baseline research remains to be carried out in order to properly delineate the strengths and limitations of phytolith analysis in paleo-ecological reconstruction
The excavation at Platia Magoula Zarkou, a prehistoric settlement in Thessaly, 30 km west of Larisa, was undertaken to clarify the problem of the exact chronological and stratigraphic position of the black burnished pottery, characteristic of the Larisa culture, which has hitherto been accepted as dating to the end of the Late Neolithic. The author became involved with this problem when he found black pottery together with grey pottery of the Tsangli phase, of the beginning of the Late Neolithic, at the neolithic cremation cemetery of Platia Magoula Zarkou (Gallis, 1982, 109-11 ; English summary, 234). The problem of the exact stratigraphic position of this black ware has now been solved. The dating of the Larisa culture to the beginning of the Late Neolithic (to the Tsangli phase) has now been confirmed by this excavation, as well as another similar excavation at the prehistoric settlement of Makrychori 2, 13km north of Larisa. A report of the results of these two excavations is forthcoming in Praehistorische Zeitschrift.
The first prehistoric 'bog body' to be found in Britain in recent times has created so much interest that a brief preliminary account is warranted-even though the serious scientific investigation is only just beginning. It was discovered at Lindow Moss (SJ 820805) on the outskirtsof Wilmslow, Cheshire, in the parish of Mobberley. Formerly a very extensive bog covering about 600 hectares, Lindow Moss, has now been reduced to a tenth of that size and some 32 hectares are being excavated commercially for horticultural peat. The operators have divided the site into 'rooms' 6 m wide and up to zoo m long, and peat is excavated in spits about I m deep from alternate rooms by a large Hy-Mac, and stacked alongside to dry for about six months. It is then transported by a narrow gauge railway to the depot where it is milled and dispatched from the site.
Profound changes occurred in central and northern Europe towards the end of the 3rd millennium bcX, when a uniform pattern of settlement, burial and material culture-the Corded Ware complexreplaced the diversity of the middle neolithic groups of the TRB (or Funnel Beaker Culture). Collective graves and large settlement sites gave way to individual burials in a largely dispersed pattern of settlement based on small sites. This was accompanied by a spread of sites into hitherto uncolonized areas, and a greater variety of locations used for settlement. This major change might at first seem to indicate a complete collapse of the earlier system, with an undifferentiated pattern replacing the apparent beginnings of hierarchies indicated by the Middle Neolithic. Kristiansen ( I 982) has recently suggested for Denmark that the middle neolithic system disintegrated, fitting a model of cyclical tribal development. It is suggested here, however, that the transformation of the middle neolithic pattern is better seen as a changed structure, which does not involve concepts such as disintegration or collapse, but marks an important shift in the organization of neolithic societies.