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As was noticed in the December 1995 ANTIQUITY, the present surroundings of Stonehenge — premier monument of European prehistory — are unhappy. Geoffrey Wainwright, head of archaeology at English Heritage, reports the current proposals to make a fit setting for Stonehenge, and what may happen now.
The judgements shaping archaeology and every subject in British universities (see remarks in the Editorial above) are based on certain presumptions about how research and teaching can best be done. Some of these premisses are noted.
San Vincenzo al Volturno is an early medieval monastery in the high province of Molise, southeast of Rome, and site of most substantial excavations over the last 15 years. The publication of portrait wall-paintings from the crypt of its great church, San Vincenzo Maggiore, is occasion to examine the place of the individual in that religious society.
Fine painted pottery is the archaeological trade-mark of the Greek presence overseas. Since other materials of exchange in the Classical world — soft things like grain, oil and slaves — are less archaeologically visible, a fresh look at issues in the archaic Greek economy revolves once more around patterns in the ceramics.
The present system of English resource management relies on legal protected status given to a pre-designated group of monuments. When it is replaced by an adversarial debate between social values, hosted by the planning system, archaeology will need to arm itself with a definition of ‘archaeological value’. The new management system would favour research rather than monumentality as the principal asset of the heritage.
The brochs, great stone towers of Iron Age Scotland, are famously puzzling. Who inhabited these strongholds (if habitations they were)? New fieldwork at the broch of Dun Vulan, on South Uist in the Western Isles, prompts reappraisal of the geographical and social context of the brochs, by developing untapped sources of social evidence.
The repertoire of site-types for later English prehistory has not changed for a generation. Now, from East Chisenbury on Salisbury Plain, a new type is defined, a midden of refuse so large and strange it re-defines the concept of ‘rubbish’ and its ‘disposal’.
For temperate Europe, the transition to the Neolithic is still both defined by a shift from a hunter-gatherer to a farming economy and archaeologically recognized by its characteristic artefacts of pottery and polished-stone axes. But what should be the criteria in the far north of Nordic Europe, where the definition of a Neolithic is a less straightforward issue?
Greenland, far north land of the Atlantic, has often been beyond the limit of European farming settlement. One of its Norse settlements, colonized just before AD 1000, is — astonishingly — not even at the southern tip, but a way up the west coast, the ‘Western Settlement’. Environmental studies show why its occupation came to an end within five centuries, leaving Greenland once more a place of Arctic-adapted hunters.
The concepts of style and function are theoretically defined from a neo-Darwinian perspective and the expected spatial-temporal distributions of each kind of trait outlined. Fish-hook assemblages from Aitutaki, Cook Islands, are examined using this framework and related to previously studied collections. Emerging stylistic patterns support notions of interaction between certain East Polynesian archipelagos around the 14th century AD.
The Great Powers — starting with ancient Imperial Rome and running up to the present — have valued Classical Greek culture as embodying the founding spirit of their own, our own western world. So where does the modern state of Greece stand? It is, more than most nations, encouraged or required to share what might be its particular heritage with a wider world.
The ANTIQUITY paper by Neeley & Barton (1994) — hereafter ‘N&B'— prompted responses published in the June number last year: Fellner (1995) and Kaufman (1995). Here are more (all shorter than the full versions received), together with a response from Barton & Neeley (B&N) that rounds off the present discussion. The debaters have seen others’ contributions, so there is some cross-comment within them. The questions and the issues are old fundamentals of lithic research and analsis, which one cannot expect to end with this debate.
The Levantine Epipalaeolithic, c. 20,000–10,000 BP, represents one of the most intensively studied periods in prehistoric research in the past 30 years, with literally hundreds of sites being discovered and many systematically investigated. The researchers involved come from a diverse range of backgrounds and national 'schools', and include American, Australian, British, French and Israeli scholars. Some, myself included, see its variability in chipped stone tool morphology, techniques of manufacture and specific means of hafting to reflect, in addition to functional factors, the stylistic traditions of specific groups in the landscape (Bar-Yosef 1991a; Goring-Morris 1987; 1995). This evidence is further bolstered by chrono-stratigraphy, settlement patterns, inter- and intra-site organization and patterning, as well as other material culture residues (Goring-Morris 1989a; 1989b; 1991).
The relationship between raw material availability, economizing behaviours and technological procedures undoubtedly influenced the configurations of Levantine Epipalaeolithic assemblages, as has been well recognized for over 20 years (Bar-Yosef 1970; Henry 1973). Other 'functional factors' have also been examined — environmental settings, settlement mobility and provisioning strategies. While each factor has been shown to have influenced the specific configurations of Epipalaeolithic assemblages, none (other than broad environmental settings) has been shown to account for the large-scale patterned variability that distinguishes the three major taxa, the Geometric Kebaran, Natufian, and Mushabian complexes. This is why most prehistorians working in the region hold that ethnicity, at some scale, provides the most robust explanation for the patterned variability observed and for the temporal and geographic distributions at the taxonomic level of 'complex'.
N&B, incorrectly attributing variability in these assemblages as representing strategies in lithic reduction, give as an example the differentiation between the Mushabian and the Geometric Kebaran complexes. Their thinking the microburin technique was used by the Geometric Kebarans but is masked by retouch on these trapeze/rectangles (sic!) suggest to me they have either never seen Geometric Kebaran and Mushabian microliths (although I understand that Neeley visited Goring-Morris' laboratory) or they cannot recognize microburin scars when they see them. In my original publication on the Mushabian (Phillips & Mintz 1977), they would see microburin scars on lamelles scalènes which were partially retouched in the Mushabian. Having recently analysed 12 Mushabian sites from Gebel Maghara, containing over 5000 microliths and 3000 microburins, and three new Geometric Kebaran sites from Sinai, containing over 800 trapeze/rectangles and no microburins, I can attest to the differences between these two assemblages in terms of reduction sequences, style of debitage, and the morphology of geometric and non-geometric microliths.
The reactions to the N&B essay tell more about epistemological concerns (or lack thereof) than they do about construals of pattern and of what pattern might mean in Levantine Epipalaeolithic archaeology.
We thank those whose interest in the Levantine Epipalaeolithic has led them to comment on our research. Such public discussion of differing interpretations is vital to understanding the past. In this article, we briefly respond to some of the points raised by those writing in this issue (G.A. Clark, N. Goring-Morris, D.O. Henry and J.L. Phillips) and in a previous issue (Fellner 1995; Kaufman 1995) of ANTIQUITY.