11th EAA Annual Meeting, Cork, Ireland.

5–11 September 2005


FRIDAY AFTERNOON Session abstract Increased interest and improved methods in the analysis of archaeological landscapes and environmental materials throughout Europe has led to a situation where, in some areas, we are provided with high-quality spatial and temporal patterning. Despite these advances, the integration of such data into theoretical archaeological approaches does not seem to have kept pace with the accumulation of data. Indeed, the preponderance to re-use outmoded datasets is representative of how archaeologists orientate their way around interpreting relationships between palaeoenvironmental evidence and human activity, highlighting the conceptual divide between archaeological practice and interpretation. We suggest that understanding of the archaeological environment requires a comprehension of how different ways of inhabiting the world became possible, whereby the values that people give to land, plants, animals and food is fundamental to the construction of social practice. This session will explore the application of landscape and environmental analyses in the construction of social and cultural archaeological narratives. We would like to encourage papers that demonstrate how environmental data is a method of enquiry into the ways that humans bound their own biographies to that of the environmental resources around them. From this perspective, social practice does not stand in opposition to nature, but is created in a complex network of exchanges that bind different lifeforms together in various, what has been referred to as, symbiotic relationships. 14:15-14:20 Introduction Fay Stevens, University College London 14:20-14:40 Introduction - Environmental narratives: methodological and theoretical perspectives David Fontijn, University of Leiden; Meriel McClatchie, University College London; Fay Stevens, University College London In this paper we will explore the methodological, theoretical and anthropological applications of landscape and environmental analyses in the construction of social and cultural archaeological narratives. We suggest that an understanding of the archaeological environment requires a comprehension of how different ways of inhabiting the world became possible, whereby the values that people give to land, plants, animals and food is fundamental to the construction of social practice. Thus, narrating the environment can be considered a method of enquiry into the ways that humans bind their own biographies to that of environmental resources around them. 14:40-15:00 Lakes, life and landscape - merging the archaeology of watery places Christina Fredengren, Discovery Programme, Ireland This paper explores different routes towards understanding the different watery environments that the Lake Settlement Project of the Discovery Programme works with.

1 of 2

11th EAA Annual Meeting, Cork, Ireland. 5–11 September 2005

There are challenges in merging environmental investigations with theories about social agency and landscape, but also great gains to make. In particular this paper will draw on analyses of fieldwork in Lough Kinale, Co. Longford and Lough Gara, Co. Sligo, Ireland in order to develop ideas of how different types of waters may have been commented upon and changed over time. It will also try to get to terms with issues of human and non-human agency and variations in the perception of waters over time. 15:00-15:20 New approaches to Bronze Age landscapes in Northwestern Europe: relating land use to field systems Helen Lewis, University of Cambridge This paper will explore new approaches in the investigation of field systems and land management, using case studies from Northwestern Europe . 15:20-15:30Discussion 15:30-15:50CoffeeBreak 15:50-15:55 Introduction Meriel McClatchie, University College London 15:55-16:15 Living in the Dutch river area during the Bronze Age Peter Jongste, University of Leiden In the last decade, numerous Bronze Age settlement-sites have been excavated in the Dutch river area. The emphasis on the cultural landscape, using physical geography, botany and zoology has yielded an abundance of new data on human occupation that is currently being studied at Leiden University (see: www.bronstijd.nl). This not only has led to new insights in the layout of the cultural Bronze Age landscape, but also in its long-term developments. Phases of relative stable conditions favourable to occupation alternated with periods of instability locally when rivers changed their courses or on a regional level when the number of alvulsions grew significantly (e.g. during the Late Bronze Age). The main objective of this study is to assess the human responses towards these profound changes in the dynamics of the landscape and the environmental constraints. Despite these, the river area remained populated throughout the whole of the 2nd millennium BC. 16:15-16:35 Working on the archaeology of a non-human animal: the wider implications of research on Castor fiber, the European beaver Bryony Coles, University of Exeter Archaeological fieldwork in wetland contexts has produced evidence for the activities of the European beaver, Castor fiber, and for human exploitation of the animal. This has prompted further investigation of the species, first to improve the recognition of its presence in the archaeological record and then to achieve a better understanding of the animal and its values to humans. Fieldwork in present-day beaver territories in western Europe, reinforced by the ecological literature, has demonstrated the significance of the beaver as a keystone ecological species. Most authorities discuss this in terms of modern environmental management, but for archaeologists it also has important implications for our understanding of past environments, and these will emerge in the course of the paper. However, it is the by-products of the fieldwork which will form the main focus of this paper, the unexpected and sometimes disconcerting comparisons between the archaeology of beavers and that of humans. They range from practical field matters which have offered some new perceptions of the nature of archaeological sites, to a suite of similarities and differences

2 of 2

11th EAA Annual Meeting, Cork, Ireland. 5–11 September 2005

between human and beaver activity, which include family life, teaching and specialisation, the making of structures, artefacts and art, patterned deposition, and manipulation of the environment. For a new perspective on human history, perhaps the most interesting question relates to the extent of environmental impact: today, the `footprint` of humans is literally and metaphorically bigger that that of beavers, whereas one could argue that back in the Palaeolithic beavers had the greater effect - but when was it that humans overtook them? 16:35-16:55 Deciphering social practice in an estuarine landscape: proposing an interpretive framework for excavations at Newrath, Co. Kilkenny Brendon Wilkins, Headland Archaeology, Ireland The archaeological mitigation of alluvial and estuarine landscapes in response to large infrastructural development programmes is a relatively new direction for Irish archaeology, albeit one of increasing importance. Site 34, in the townland of Newrath, Co. Kilkenny, was excavated on behalf of Waterford City Council prior to the construction of the N25 Waterford Bypass. The archaeological deposits were located on a probable shelving terrace, now covered by an unbroken sequence of deep Holocene sediment, in an area where these deposits were no more than 2-3 m deep. They can be grouped into three main phases of activity: later Mesolithic flint scatters on a dry land surface predating the accumulation of organic peat deposits; later prehistoric trackways and informal brushwood platforms forming hurdles across tidal creeks or accessing the main river channel from the dryland margin; and later prehistoric fulacht fiadh on what would have been the eastern shore of the contemporary wetland area. Far from marginal or peripheral, the results indicate that the wetland area was a highly important resource of cultural, social and economic significance. The excavation strategy adopted a multi-scaler approach to the data relating specific cultural events, such as the construction of a trackway, with natural changes in the deposit sequence, such as the onset of peat formation or periods of inundation. Post-excavation assessment of species selection processes, tool mark analysis and environmental reconstruction contribute to an interpretive framework foregrounding human strategies in the exploitation of a rich wetland resource. 16:55-17:15 A life amongst trees: perceptions of the environment in the Neolithic of Northwest Europe Gordon Noble Interaction with the natural environment forms the basis of people’s understandings of the world around. It is difficult for most of us today to imagine what it would be like to live in a wooded environment, but in Neolithic Scotland everyday life was surrounded by the forest. Trees and woodland are rarely studied in any detail in prehistoric archaeology as they often only leave fragmentary traces in the archaeological record. However, timber formed an important medium for the construction of monuments in the Neolithic and it is crucial that we consider the materiality of this substance in our considerations of past lives. In this paper it is argued that Neolithic communities in Scotland drew on the symbolism of the forest when constructing their built environment and that the architectures they constructed were a synthesis of the natural and cultural environments. Timber seems to have been used as a medium through which ideas about the fundamental processes of life and death were symbolised and these ideas were incorporated into a number of different forms of monumental structure, all of which were built from the architectural building blocks of the forest environment. 17:15-18:00 Discussion and summing-up Led by David Fontijn, University of Leiden

3 of 2

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful