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3. NEOLITHIC AND EARLY TO MIDDLE BRONZE AGE (c.4000-c.1150 cal BC): RESEARCH AGENDA #

Click here to see strategies recommended for addressing agenda themes and topics for this period.
3.1 Dating
  1. How may radiocarbon and other scientific dating methods be applied most effectively to refining the period's imprecise chronological framework?
  2. How can we date more precisely the various regional styles of Neolithic and earlier Bronze Age pottery?
  3. Can we further refine lithic artefact chronologies within the region?
  4. Can we define more precisely the chronology of the major monument classes (causewayed enclosures, barrows and cairns etc), and how might this have varied spatially?

3.2 Continuity of hunter-gatherer traditions

  1. To what extent may hunter-gatherer subsistence traditions have continued into the Neolithic?
  2. Can we discern continuities or discontinuities in the distributions of later Mesolithic and earlier Neolithic lithic scatters?
  3. How may environmental sampling strategies assist in elucidating the transition from later Mesolithic to earlier Neolithic economies?
  4. What light is thrown by isotope analysis on dietary change in the Neolithic?
3.3 Introduction, character and development of agriculture
  1. When was the transition from nomadic to semi-sedentary and sedentary communities and to what extent did this vary in different landscapes?
  2. Can we clarify the range of new crops, regional variations in the introduction of species such as spelt wheat, the relative importance of cultivated and gathered food and changes in diet?
  3. What was the balance between domesticated animals and cultivated crops and how might this have varied within the region and over time?
  4. When did the first field and boundary systems develop, how did this vary regionally and what processes may underlie their development?
3.4 Exploitation of different landscape zones
  1. How may the region's remarkable variety of upland, lowland and coastal landscapes be surveyed in ways that would permit recognition of significant intra-regional variations in land use?
  2. Can we identify locations with a high potential for elucidating variations in arable, pasture and woodland cover between ecological zones (e.g. palaeochannels; upland peats)?
  3. Can we further refine our knowledge of the selective use of particular landscapes for ritual, agriculture and other activities?

3.5 Settlement patterns

  1. How may we characterise more effectively the frequently ephemeral structural traces that might relate to settlement activity?
  2. Can we obtain a clearer understanding of temporal and spatial variability in the duration of settlement activity?
  3. How might settlement morphology and functions have varied regionally and over time, and in particular when, where and why may the first enclosed settlements have developed?
  4. What may analyses of surface lithic scatters teach us about developing settlement patterns in the region?

3.6 Ceremonial and burial monuments

  1. Why may monument complexes have developed, why were some short-lived and others of longer duration, and why do these incorporate such a wide variety of monument types?
  2. Why were some monument types, such as causewayed enclosures, long cairns and henges, constructed in some areas but not others?
  3. What roles may henges, causewayed enclosures, cursuses and other monument classes have performed in contemporary society?
  4. To what extent can we relate monument types to particular artefact suites, and can such information usefully inform fieldwork strategies?

3.7 Riverine monuments and ritual foci

  1. When did burnt mounds develop, what functions may they have performed and how might they relate to contemporary settlements?
  2. What ceremonial or ritual roles may rivers or other watery locations have performed and how may this have varied regionally and over time?
  3. How significant were river-crossing or confluence zones as foci for monument complexes?

3.8 Neolithic and Bronze Age societies

  1. Can we identify intra-regional variations in the character of sites and artefacts and what might these signify in social or economic terms?
  2. How far can studies of burials, grave goods, house and barrow/cairn structures contribute to studies of status variations within and between communities?
  3. How far may DNA or isotope analyses of human bone shed light upon population mobility and in particular the Beaker phenomenon?

3.9 Raw material resources and exchange networks

  1. Can we locate flint, chert, igneous rock and other lithic raw material sources and identify exchange networks (e.g. Group XX Charnwood axes)?
  2. How far may petrographic and other scientific analyses contribute to our understanding of systems of ceramic production and distribution?
  3. How far may studies of grave goods from barrows and other burial monuments contribute to studies of trade and exchange within and beyond the region?
  4. How can we further refine our understanding of the production and distribution of copper, bronze and gold items?

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  This page (revision-138) was last changed on 22-Jun-2017 14:04 by Tina Roushannafas