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The definition and dating of chronological phases or periods are fundamental to most, if not all, archaeological endeavour. The procedures involved in identifying and seriating types, periods and their dates are now sophisticated (e.g. Shennan 1988). but there has been little theoretical discu sian about tyle sequencing and periodization as cultural processes. The main concern over recent decade ha been to u e periodization as a starting po.int for studies of settlement, economic or social change .. The pericdization itself remains in the background, subservient to evolutionary schemes, adaptive strategies, degrees of social complexity or ideological manipulations.
1n recent decades, too, the sequencing of tyles has remained largely untheorized as archaeologists have focused on style as synchronic mes 'aging (e.g. Wiessner 1990) Or meaning (e.g, Hodder 199.1). Stylistic change is seen as the active product of social or symbolic strategies, but there has been little account of the ways in which styles are constructed by referencing or responding to earlier tyles, as part of diachronic process es (see. however, Cannon 1989 .
By way of contrast, earlier generation, of archaeologists were absorbed by the patterns in time formed by periods and styles. In particular. they placed periods within a narrative structure which often had a classical narrative plot or story-line with a beginning, middle and end: Early Middle and Late; Formative, Classic and Post-Classic; I, n and III; early, development, climax and decline. Such example of periodization as narrative are largely looked upon today with scepticism since we have no theories which would make sense of the idea that cultural sequences are organized into larger plots. Period narratives would today normally be assumed by archaeologist to have been constructed by the observer rather than to have had any validity to past agents (for a different perspective in history 'ee Ricoeur (1984)).
Earlier generations of archaeologistsjinfluenced by art history and anthropology (e .. g.
Sayee 1933), were also fascinated by the stories they thought were told in the sequencing of styles over time. For example. Pia-River (1906 ) explored the ways in which coin or pottery types became more schematic or 'degenerated' over time. TIle chemati.zation or decay' of style were often u ed in attempts to date artifacts. Without some external validation of the chronological sequences through stratigraphy or radiocarbon dating, the
narratives that were built could easily be seen as constructed by archaeologists themselves.
World Archaeology Volume 25 No.2 Conceptions a/Time and Ancient Society © Routledge 1993 0043-8243/93/2502/268 $3.0011
The narrative and rhetoric of material culture sequences 269
Material culture narratives
In this paper 1 wish to argue that where chronological sequences of style'S can reliably be built b stratigraphic or chronometric mean, an attempt can be made to infer the narratives according to which past agents constructed their live .. 1 am not here referring to individual plots and brief hi toties. Rather, 1 refer to the larger-scale narratives which may last decades, centurie or millennia and in which we are all enrne hed. For-example, I am personally aware of living in a po t-colonial Britain. Although others may contest this account of Britain, where I place myself in the long-term narrative of imperial rise and fall affect the way in which llive my life. Many of tho e involved in current events in what was the S viet Union feel that they ar closing one 'chapter' which began in 1917 and are opening a new one. Most of us are aware of being part of long-term narratives, such as the Christian era or the British heritage which we both inherit and tran form (rewrite) ..
It is particularly in the expressive, rather than the technological, areas of cultures that narratives are told, although even in technological spheres narrative accounts of for example, 'progress' may fuel or legitimate development. For neolithic Europe, I have argued (Hodder] 990) that the expressive areas of pottery styles, figurines, burials and house forms tell two competing stories. The first, the domus, is a story about the domination and domestication of nature. used as a metaphor for the domination and domestication of people. 111e second, the agrios, i a story about warring, hunting and drinking, used as an etiquette of power, In a mor specific reading of this second narrative, T argued that the Corded Ware/Bell Beaker phenomena expressed a story about the foreign, imposed, violent nature of power. Rather than debating whether a movement of p ople occurred at this time (mid-third millennium cal. Bq, I argued that the material culture was used by social actors at the time as part of a myth or narrative involving movement of people (regardless of how many people had actually moved). In other words, the daggers, battle axes, drinking beakers and widespread styli tic similarities of the Baden/Corded Ware/Bell Beaker were produced as part of a narrative which explained new forms of power as having been imposed by foreign 'elites' =tales of stranger-rulers. As archaeologists we have to be wary about reading material culture evidence directly. The material culture might itself have been involved in telling stories or recountingmyths (a good example of myths told in burial rituals is provided by Andren (1993)).
Narrative in action
An enormous contribution to our understandi ng of the relationship between narrative and action has been made by Paul Ricoeur ('1984; Moore 1990). Ricoeur does not simply see the historian imposing a narrative on a sequence of real events. Rather, historical events posse s the same structure as narrative. Historical events, unlike natural events, are part of a narrative structure which has a beginning middle and end. For this reason. historians are ju tified in regarding their stories as valid representations of events and they can treat their narrative repre entations as explanations.
According to Ricoeur, the intentionality ofhuman actions creates lives that have or seek the coherence of emplotted nories. The stories. people live are not only conscious in 'their'
270 Ian Hodder
minds. They also concern wider conseq uences and structures. Narratives link agents to the background of forces.
More pecifically, Ricoeur discusse the relationship between the practical experience of time and the narratives we construct about that experience. He sets up a dialectical movement between experience and narrative. He doe this by showing the relation. hips bet ween three forms of mimesis. Mimesis 1 is our experience of being caught up in tories, of being 'within time'. It i our practical understanding ot' what it means to raise one's arm in different contexts (Moore 1990). We often feel caught within undeveloped stories which in some cases, for xarnple , psychoanalysis might bring out. Ricoeur talks of 'the untold stories of our lives'. Mimesis 2 is emplotrnent and narrative. U is based on but is in tension with mimesis 1. Event' are 'grasped together' into a whole plot, and are given coherence by the identification or an end point or conclusion. Mim sis 3 is the return to practical experience. It 1S the relating of the plot to real action. In linking sl ry and experience, people may have their experience 'opened up' or augmented in the process.
Overall, according to Ricoeur, mimesis 2 (ernplotment or narrative) acts on mimesis 1 (practical experience) to produce mimesis 3 which is a refiguring of our temporal experience. Ricoeur i arguing for an eternal interplay between lived experience and the narratives we organize it by. This discu sian is of direct relevance to material culture which is both the resull of practical experience and, in its' representational. expressive. symbolic aspects, the result oftelling stories about ourselves to ourselves. The door is thus opened to consider the narratives of sequences of material culture even L •
But before we can understand narratives we need to understand the rhetoric through which they are expressed. Indeed, change' in material ulture form may often re ult from di fferenl modes of expression (rhetoric) rather than from changes in the narrativecontent. I have already given examples (the dornus and the agrios) of how a narrative can be used metaphorically in order to influence people. Rhetoric concerns the device or forms used to persuade an audience of a narrative. In language, uchrhetorical devices include irony and figW'e of speech such as metaphor, metonymy and synecdoche. T wish to demonstrate that similar devices can be applied to material culture.
Metaphor, as in 'my love, a rose', 'the curtain of night', 'the ocean of life' Or 'all nature smiled' involve using a word or phrase in a new context in order to express relations of similarity or analogy. New dimensions of the familiar are often opened up in uch 'comparisons. Archaeological examples might include a ceramic pot made in the form of a woman, a foreign dagger used as a metaphor for a stranger-ruler, Neolithic tombs buill to represent houses (Hodder 1990), or ritual plough marks under barrows referring to agriculture and to death a renewal (Tarlow 1990). keuornorphs can also frequently be considered as metaphor. (a ceramic pot in the form of a metal bowl, a flint version of a metal dagger, a wooden jewelry box in the form ofa book, etc.),
Metonymy and synecdoche can be seen as forms of metaphor. Metonymy as a figure of speech occurs when reference is made to something by substituting an associated idea or
The narrative and rhetoric of material culture sequences 271
object, as when 'fond of the bottle' is used to mean 'fond of alcoholic drink' or fur and feather' refers to 'beasts and birds'. Archaeological examples occur wherever an object is used to stand for its owner a cherished pipe or walking stick for a dead grandfather, a crown oraxe for a powerful leader .
Syne doche occur when a part is u .ed to imply a whole as when a blade stands for a sword and a sail for a ship, A lock of hair can be used to represent a person. Archaeological exarnpl s commonly occur in the schernatization of figurines where a part of a body (e.g. belly or buttocks) comes to repre ent the whole (Gimbutas in Renfrew at a1. 1986).
Different definitions can b given tn these different figure of speech. For example, White (1973) argues that ynecdoche occurs when a part stand. for a quality of the whole as the heart in the phrase 'she is all heart'. An archaeological example of this definition of synecdoche might include the use of depictions of female br asts to represent nurturing. Differences in the definitions of metonymy and ynecdoche at least partly derive from the question of whether the whole that i being referred to excludes associated elements (meton my) or include them a' parts ( ynecdo he). For example. are the feathers u .ed to referto a bird, part of the bird (as in synecdoche) or are they associated objects substituting for the bird (as in metonymy)? Beau e of this difficulty it will be taken as preferable in thi ' article 10 adopt White's rather different definitions of metonymy and synecdoche: metonymy indicate, any case in which a part (however defined) refer to a whole, whereas synecdoche indicat ,5 any case in which a part refers to a quality of a whole.
Irony i the negation at am: (figurative) level of what is affirmed at another (literal) level.
The wearing of the American nag on the seat of a hippy's jeans might be called ironic. Ethnographic examples are suggested by the parody of dominant positions in role reversals in ritual Archaeological examples might include ca es such as Neolithic megalithic burial where inequalities are masked or denied (Shennan 1982). The false portals or Cotswold-Severn tombs, where a facade is constructed to draw attention to an entrance which doe not exist but occur at the 'ide of the mound (D arvil I 1982) provide good examples of an ironic u e of material cultu reo What appears to be an entrance at one level of meaning is denied at another. In terms of historical sequence, irony describes a COurse of events, the result of which is the direct opposite of what is expected. Thu , the clo ure and negation of an earlier use of tombs for burial might be described as ironical.
Interpretation of the rhetorical strategies used in material narratives depends on an understanding of context. For example, a figurine of an unclothed, accurately modelled human body could.be s m taphor for society as a whole, or for harmony with nature, or it could ironically refer to the frailty of the human condition. Decision between such interpretations depends on wider understanding of relevant social strategi s and of relevant cultural meanings.
There is more to rhetoric than metaphor and irony. ] n both material culture and language it is possible to pun and quote and sequences of material culture styles can resul L in cliche or kitsch. Tn materia] culture, an additional range of persua rive strategies is offered by the dramatic potential of monuments for example. The control of m vernents towards and within built forms can create senses of awe, fear, surprise and 0 on (e.g. Bradley 1989; Thomas 1991). Any full account of rhetoric in relation to material culture would have to consider this wider range of strategie . However, I wish for the moment to focus on situation in which material culture is manipulated in way comparable to the
272 ran Hodder
Table I White's (1973) historical cherne for the development of tropes.
Plot Argument Ideology Trope
Romance Forrni I Anarchy Metaphor
Tragedy Mechanicist Radical Metonymy
Comedy Organicist Conservative Synecdoche
Satire Contcxtualist Liberal Irony rhetoric of spoken and written narrative, by considering the work of Hayden White (1973; 1987).
The rhetoric of emplotment
White (1973) has argued that narratives, including histories and philosophies of history. are characterized by plot, argument and ideology (Table 1). Ernplotrnent is the kind of
tory that is told, the way the story reveals the events. For example, events emplotted romantically are described as revealing the triumph of good over evil, human Over nature. Satire, on the other hand, expresses humans as captives of forces beyond. their control, caught within unchanging structures. In comedy, new force emerge and triumph is hoped for, but reconciliation is occasional.
Argument concerns the laws of historical explanation that are invoked in order to make a narrative per uasive. For example forrnist and contextualist accounts argue for the uniqueness and variability of events. A mechanistic narrative is reductive in that it shows that history is the playing out of universal laws (as in Marx's law of the relationship between base and superstructure). An organicist account is synthetic, identifying principle which integrate the whole.
Ideology, in White's account, refers to the ethical element and to the narrator's role in social praxis. For example, radicals .eek change and the formation of a new ociety through rational scientific means .. Anarchists have an intuitive desire to abolish society. Con ervatives are resigned to only gradual change. In my view, White's categorization are less uccessful in this area, as his ideologies are not concerned with trategie of (misjrepresenration. An alternative sch me would distinguish ide logies which involved universalization (legitimating social strategies by claiming them to be universal), naturalization and masking Or denial (Hodder 1991).
The importance of White's scheme for archaeologists is that it provides a vocabulary for beginning to identify rhetorical strategies used in material culture. It also allows us to see that material culture might change not simply because of major changes of content (social, economic, etc.) but also because of changes in form or rhetoric. For example, the large Early Neolithic long tomb' in south Scandinavia which contain few Or single burials (Madsen 1979) could be described a using a metonymical trategy whereby one person buried 'in a communally constructed tomb was an associated element or part representing a whole. In the early Middle Neolithic in Scandinavia all aspects of life seem to be integrated around common rituals (Hodder 1990). Decorated pottery and a range of symbolic
The narrative and rhetoric of material culture sequences 273
relations and oppo itions integrate tombs, enclosures and 'cult' hou res in a typically organici t way. Material culture undergoes change which are rapid and continuously progressive in that the change move fairly quickly in one clear direction. Because of these fact , the material culture changes could be described as romantically or comically emplotted. In the later Middle Neolithic however, tombs continue to be used but are not built. Such a shift does not necessarily imply new social forms. but rather a Change 10 a satirical rhetoric whereby humans are expre sed a' captives of historical forces. In other words. people continue to use burial monuments and rituals onstructed in the past and do not experiment with new forms of burial in parts of south Scandinavia.
In addition White argues that there are elective affinities between plot. argument and ideology, as expressed in Tabl 1. The narrator's choice of plot, argument and ideology are prefigured by an underlying lingui lie coherence which White calls trope. The work of a succc sful narrator at a particular moment in time is characterized by dominant tropes which are the deep structures of the historical imagination. Furthermore, the tropes have a tendency to change in the sequence hown in Table 1. The metaphorical trope is characteristic of the first phase 0:1' a new narrative. H is representational and substitutive, triumphantly bringing in new idea' but with a lot of local variety. In the example of the Scandinavian Neolithic, the first phase could be seen as characterized by the bringing in of ideas from the more southerly TRB areas (Solberg 1989), but with a considerable variety of local res POll e. The rnetonyrnical trop involves reduction, a part for a whole as in the case of the artier Scandinavian lambs (see above). It al 0 involve. schism and hierarchy as suggested by the contrast between tho e buried in the tombs and tho e not. White s third synecdochical trope is also reductive, but involves integration around abstract ideas as in the use of ritual to integrate aLI spheres of life in the early Middle Neolithic (see above). The final ironic trope involves negation and doubt, a self-critical relativizing. This is the trope within which White himself writes, and within which my post-imperial (and post-processual) consciousness could be seen a taking it form. In the Scandinavian later Middle Neolithic, the ironic tropeis expressed in the atirical use of the tombs (see above) in their use of a masking ideology (Shennan 1982) and finally in their negational closing off.
The criticisms of White's account of tropes are nurnerou (e.g. Kellner 1980' Mand lbaum 19 0; Pomper 1980). In my view it is wise to abandon the notion of tropes, elective affinities or deep structures which recur in a cycle, OT at lea t to treat such claim a research qu stions [0 which archaeology might be able to contribute. The case against White's trope cycles is parallel to Collingwood's (1927) critique of Oswald Spengler's theory of cycles in his Decline ('.1' the West. Collingwood (ibid.: p.316) described the fallacy of attempting 'to characterise a culture by means of a singleidea or tendency or feature, to deduce everything from this one central idea'. when in fact cultures are made up of opposite in dialectical movement. In fact, in parts of White's work (1973; 1987). hi' tropes are seen a being used by conflicting strategic in relation to each other. Ne ertheless there remains the su picion that each.period or age is characterized by one underlying trope. There is an unacceptable holism.
But the main criticism of both Spengler and White is that the periodization and cycles can be Seen as arbitrary fictions of the observer. When we divide prehistory or history into periods with beginnings, middles and ends, 'we are talking not about history but about the labels we choose to stick upon the corpse of history. Better historical thinking ... would
274 ian Hodder
show us ... a dynamic interplay of ideas' (C llingwood 1927: 324). A 'period' of history is often [10 more than the observer's fabrication. 'The hi lorieal cycle ... i incidental to a point of view. The cycle is the historian's field of vision at a given moment' (ibid.: 325). White has indeed been accused of erasing the di tinction between fiction and history, since he ha not been interested in exploring the relationships between narrative history (with its tropes) and the real world of action.
The main response to these criticisms should be first to focus not on tropes, per:iods and cycles but on the positive idea that material culture is used as part of rhetorica1 strategies within narratives. Second, we need to incorporate the idea that narratives and rhetoric are not only in the domain of the ob erver , hi tori an or prehistorian. When we abandon the idea of periods and tropes, we are still left with the way in which the dornus narrative and the satirical use of Scandinavian tombs are both in my and 'their' mind'. Both narrative, as Ricoeur argues, and rhetoric play dialectical role in the way we live our live '. Thus Collingwood's critique and the second limitation of White s position can be by-passed. There is a continual dialectical relationship between lived experience, the narratives we organize it by, and the rhetoric through which those narratives are expressed.
I wish to turn to an account of a prehistoric cultu ral sequence in order to apply some of the insights gained by considering material culture as having narrative and rhetorical components. In doing so it should be emphasized that 1 am not assuming that prehistoric people would have been able to translate terms like irony and metonymy directly, or that they used satire in a contemporary sen e. The narrative that I construct is written for a modern audience, and yet I would claim that a consideration of archaeological evidence allows an accommodation, a translation between the past and the present. r apply terms like irony provisionally and warily in the hope that a detailed contextual reading of the data will allow a sensitivity to the differences of meaning in the past. To return to Ricoeur, the narrative I write in the present acts on the practical experience of the archaeological materialsto produce a refiguring both ofthat experience and of my temporal experience in the present.
The Sitagroi sequence
In choosing a site to explore these ideas I was conscious of the need to avoid poorly dated stylistic sequences which might themselves have been constructed by imposing modem narratives (such as the notion that styles degenerate or become more complex over time). 1 therefore chose a tell site in which a deep sounding had been made, despite the concomitant problem that most deep stratigraphic excavations have not been able to uncover large horizontal areas. The publi bed material from Sitagroi (Renfrew et at. 1986), which forms a large enough sample varying over about 3,000 calendar year' (5500 to 2200 cal. Be), mainly consist of animal bones.figurines and ceramics. There is insufficient spatial control Over the entire sequence to explore variation in cultural material in floors, house collapse, middens and so on.
Sitagroi is situated in the plain of Drama in north-eastern Greece. On reading the published first volume of the excavation report, the reader is met with an already formed
The narrative and rhetoric of material culture sequences 275
narrative about the cultural sequence. For example. in his concluding chapter, Renfrew entitles Pha .e I 'earliest' (p. 479), Phase II 'development' (p. 480) and Phase III 'climax' (p. 481). Elsewhere in the volume, Evans uses terms such as dynamic (p. 397), or bold' (p.358) to de cribe Phase III pottery design, wherea late in III Clum. y Grooved fabrics are defined. By phases TV and V Sherratt i talking of coarser ceramics (p. 435), of decline (p. 438) and of degeneration (p. 440). The text thus contains a classic beginning-middleend narrative with the high point :reached in the climactic middle.
As Renfrew describes the working out of the tratigraphic equence and the identification of five phases in the deep sounding ZA which were then correlated with the material from other trenches it is clear that the narrative about the site wa constructed by focu sing on the central Phase Ill. In the middle layers of the deep sounding, the ceramics were the mo t distinctive (e pecially the Graphite Painted and the Black on Red Painted ware) and the most varied. By plotting the frequencies of these di tinctive fabrics in the different layer a central grouping of layers could be 'grasped together'. The sequence was thus divided into three: the middle layers and those before and after them. Finer distinctions were then noted in the earlier layers, allowing Phases I and II to be distinguished. In the later layers, IV, Va and Vb could be separated. The periodization of til site is thus a narrative built around a middle rather than an end of a story.
Phase I is very much a beginning, both in term of the narrative con tructed by the report s auth IS and in terms of the objective material from the sit . At thi time the plain of Drama is first occupied. There is much continuity in pottery in Pha es I to III, but the shapes in I are simply stated, unelaborated. There are a few figurine but the e increase greatly in numbers in Phases II and Ill. Beyond being able to say that pottery in this phase starts a stylistic trend and thu 'looks forward" there is insufficient evidence to allow a fuller account in terms. of rhetoric orernplotment.
In Phase II the unpainted wares of Phase I continue, but some painted wares are added.
Handle types and pottery forms continue but with. some additions. Some fabrics, such as Brown on Cream show clear development within Phase IT from simple designs in either straight or curved lines, to the more complex chevrons, ladders spirals etc. The motifs 'grow more sophisticated (p. 353). Ther is then a sense of either romance or comedy-of narratives attempting to be per uasive by tres ing the emergence of the new.
But this is also a time which lacks overall coherence and in which there is much variety and uniqueness (as in formist or contextualist arguments) and much schism and division. A whole series of new fabrics and ideas are tried out in Phase II, producing a large number of contrasting wares: Brown on Cream on Orange, on Buff, Orange on Orange, Black on Red, Red on White, thick lines of decoration, thin lines, decoration painted on or scraped off. unpainted wares and so On.
Tn Pha es I and II 'tripods' occur (Fig. 1.2) which are decorated differently from the more curvilinear pottery decoration. The tripods are not painted but are incised with linear motifs iii. banded zones. Thus aJ a within the decorative techniques used on the tripod division occurs. In-so-far as these different 'parts' represent aspects of a divided whole rather than any unifying quality, much of the pottery variation could be said to be using a metonymical rhetoric.
A more specific metonymical emphasis in Phase IT is suggested by the figurines (Fig. 1: 3). These are largely schematic at this stage, by which is meant that the details of the
276 [an Hodder
Figure I elected examples of the artifacts from the different phases at Sitagroi (not [0. calc).
The narrative and rhetoric ofmaierial culture sequences 277
body are not given. Rather, the body isrepresented by-its parts (e.g. belly, buttocks or arm stumps), metonymically in White's definition of this term.
Thus the overall impression 'in Phases 1 and n is of novelty as new forms of expression are tried out. associated elements being put 'Forward to represent wholes rnetonymically, but without any overarching coherence being achieved. One might suppose that society was itself divided and uncertain, but at least some of the expressive areas of culture seemed tohave been using a rhetoric which.empbasized varied attempts at argument and representation.
In the 'Climax' of Phase III, however, the evidence suggests more of an integrated whole. Some of the descriptions of this phase in the report are impressionistic. For example, the Phase III 'decorative style is quite dynamic' (p, 397) and, in comparison with Phase III, the Phase II designs 'lack boldness' (p. 358). Gimbutas (p. 226) writes of 'the efflorescence in the plastic arts' in Phase III. But there are also more objective criteria for defining the climactic nature of this phase. Despite the continuities with the preceding phases, '1.9 of the 2S Sitagroi handle shapes were recovered from Phase m: levels' (p. 397). There is a large amount. of pottery variability in this phase with a greater number of distinctive categories and with the designs covering the pot surfaces being more densely packed. Despite this variability, and in contrast to later phases (see below), the pottery forms predominantly suggest. food preparation. presentation and storage. The largest number offigurine occur in Phase III, only 1 per cent of which are possibly male humans.
Although the inability of the excavators to uncover large Phase III areas limits understanding of the nature of the occupation, the evidence from this phase is reminiscent of what I would de eribe as the domus (Hodder 1990). The overall emphasis on elaborate domestic pottery associated with large number' of female figurines is typical of the fourth millennium Be (Phase III being radiocarbon dated to 4600-3500 cal. BC) in south-east Europe. The fuller evidence from other sites suggests a strategy based upon domestic production, the house, and the woman as. representing general qualities of productivity and regeneration. Overall, aspects of Phases I to III would fit into the domus definition, but on analogy with other sites Phase III represents the highpoint of social strategies based on domestic labour and production.
In Phase III more of the evidence seems to fit into this general idea. Despite the variability, there is more of a coherence, as the evidence comes to centre. as in synecdoche, around an abstract whole which Renfrew describes as 'prolific mythical Imagery' Cp .. 482). A. specific instance of greater integration is provided by the figurines (Fig. 1: 5) .. Although these remain largely schematic (in the sense described above), there is some decrease in schematization in Phase UI. The female form is often depicted with more natural proportions (p. 226), suggesting some breakdown of the tension between form and representation. Many of the animal figurines, especially the bulls, are naturalistic in appea ranee:
Also in Phase IH, legged bowls with zoomorphic characteristics appear (Fig. 1: 7). On these 'plastic vessels', 'the curvilinear designs appear in tree fashion seemingly without zone restriction' (p.313). In contrast to the earlier tripods, the plastic vessels are less angular, the decoration is less constrained , and there is more of an integration of form, decoration and representation. There is also less division 0.1" partition in that the designs on the plastic vessels are also found on the pottery. The often elaborate decoration on the
278 Ian. Hodder
pottery can be all-inclusive in that the swirls COver the whole of the inside or out ide of tbe pot in all-embracing movements (Figure 2: 6 8,9). The designs are often d nsely packed as the decorative chemes begin to get 'filled up', reaching the limits of development.
The overall impression from Phase III is thus organicist and integrative, with a synecdochical rhetoric being used. There is al 0 sam objective evidence (in frequencies of figurines and painted pottery, for example) to indicate this phase as the highpoint (climax) of a narrative strategy followed since Phase T. There is continuity in narrative between the Phases I to HI, but greater variability and innovation into Phase m. The dornus strategy followed in these phases was justified using different rhetorical devices through time, and in Phase TIl the rhetoric u ed synecdoche to argue increasingly for an organic, natural whole. But as the dornus narrative became more iru grative , so too the limits of it development could be seen and alternativ strategies developed.
In Phases IV and Y, the figurine, plastic ves els and painted wares disappear. As regards the pottery, some shapes and fabrics continue from Phase Ill but without the arne decoration, Instead of painting, incision and channelling are found. Channelling had already become more common at the end of Phase nr, but the Phase IV channelling 'often degenerates into a perfunctory grooving' around the vessel (p. 440). The fabrics that most closely resemble the Graphite Painted war s in Phase III are now coarser and Jess well finished (p. 435). The overall paucity of new distinctive forms and the decrea e in ceramic variability suggest a satirical emplotrnent in which expre sion is contained within older structure or is dominated by the negation of what went before rather than by the romantic or comic construction of novelty.
It is in terms of an overall narrative for the site that the writers of the e cavation report can describe pottery 'declining or 'degenerating' in Phases IV and V. The contrast with the climax of Phase HI allows the later phases to be written as using an ironical. rhetoric. But we can only argue that the site sequence results from a lived narrative with a beginning, middle and end, if the 'end' does indeed refer backwards to the earlier parts of the story. In other words there has to be evidence of continuity of occupation or at lea, tof cultural transmission, between the phases, and pecifically between Phases [[1 and TV. Tn fact, however Sherrau (in Renfrew et "II. (986) argues for an occupational di continuity between TIl and TV because the upper layer' in nr have a fine, featurele s fill (in trench ZA), and because painted wares disappear suddenly (p. 430). Renfrew, on the other hand, writes only of 'the clear possibility of a hiatus' (p. 482). It is of course possible that an ironical or negational rhetorical strategy might itself involve creating the appearance of a cultural break or discontinuity, as what went before is closed off or negated We should be wary of interpreting directly an archaeological record produced within an ironical rhetoric. In any-case, I have already mentioned examples of cultural continuity between Phase [II and IV ceramic. Even if a break of occupation occurred, there are changes towards the end of TIl which lead into IV and suggest some degree of cultural tran mission in the region, even if not at Sitagroi itself.
Evans (Renfrew et al. 1986: eh. 12) note' a number of ceramic continuities between Phases III and TV (in Grooved wares, thickened rim bowls, Kritsana bowls and Dark Burnished wares). The shift to plainer undecorated or hannelled and incised wares can be seen as a competing strategy which emerge' towards the end of Phase III. The shift could be seen as an end, but In its ironical negation of what went before a beginning is also
The narrative and rhetoric of material culture sequences 279
heralded. What is the narrative which lie behind this new phase (Phase IV) which archaeologists have rather dryly termed the Early Bronze Age? The faunal remains in Phase IV show a , hift to larger numbers of wild animal. and a greater emphasis on pig. While Bokonyi (Renfrew et al. 1986: ch, 5) argues that this '!'lift might be lin ked to climatic change, h al o suggests that cultural factors were probably involved (p. 70). Through time he observes a clear trend from the use of animals for meat to their use for additional purposes such as milk, draft and wool Such changes indicate the changes described by Sherratt (L981) as a Secondary Products Revolution. At Sitagroi, the ceramic assemblage sh ws a shift from storage to dri nking and pouring (p, 440 and Fig. 1; 11). The morphology of grape pips from Phase IV onwards changes, indicating the possible appearance of wine-making (p. 441). All these changes (the importance of hunting secondary animal products and drinking), as well as others (such as the Phase V blaek- tone shaft-hole axe head in the form of a feline (Fig. I: 10)) point to a set of strategies which are found more widely in Europe and which I have termed the agrios (Hodder 1990). New strategies of power were being moulded, based on secondary products and the plough, the vine and the olive, and centred around prestige exchanges within a warring, hunting, drinking ethic. EI ewhere in Europe, this new narrative is associated with romantic, heroic and metaphorical rhetorical strategies. And at Sitagroi there i at least some use of metaphor as in the u e f metal prototypes for the forms of some ceramic handle, and bowls in Phases IV and V. But at Sitagroi these new ideas are expre ed initially within a negative, ironical rhetoric which refers backward, as much as forwards.
Most of the recent. rise in interest in narrative in archaeology has concerned archaeological writing (e .g. Gero 1991; Spector 1991' Tilley L989). Here T have been more concerned with material culture sequence as them elves narrative-like. but it is necessary to add a few c mment about the dialectical relationship' between 'our' and 'their> narratives. Although sequences divided into Early Middle, Late or N olithic ~ Bronze and Iron are at one level fictional narratives con, true ted in the present, I have tried to argue in this paper. following the insights of Ricoeur, that the material record itself was produced within a narrative experience. Any attempt to link 'my' and 'their narrative cannot therefore be purely fictional. I have tried to show in this paper that there are objective aspects of past material behaviour which can inform u. about the narrative being told. 'Their' and 'our' narratives can provisionally be fu: ed.
Archaeologists have in recent years tended to view periodization as a descriptive first .tage in the construction of cultural, econ rnic and social sequence," They have hied to describe periods and chronological indicators in neutral term. Yet a I have shown in the Sitagroi case, creeping in around the edge, of this mechanical chronicling of time are narratives which have a beginning middle and end. whi h start, develop and degenerate. which floresce and decline. These far from neutral or mechanical interpretive stories underlie our 'descriptive' chronologies. And yet, rather than lapsing into relativism where it is claimed that our chronologies and periods are fictions of the analyst, I have argued rhat
280 Ian Hodder
the.narratives can express som objective features of material culture equences. In some real sense, Phase III at Sitagroi is a climax, and Phase IV and V represent a decline.
The trouble with terms such as 'climax', 'decline' 'degenerate' is that they remain untheorized , and thus heavy with prejudice. ] have tried to replace them with terms such as metaphor, synecdoche and irony which can be given precise definitions and, de pile White, do not need to be 'loaded' by an ideology of progressive development. Thus Phase III at Sitagroi can be described as using synecdochical rhetoric and organicist arguments in order to make natural or universal an abstract idea (the domus). Phase IV is described by Gimbutas and Renfrew (p. 484) as a decline after the end. of 'Old Europe, indicating the beginning of the Early Bronze Age. But it can also be seen as expressing a time in which irony and negation were u ed rhetorically. in order to legitimate new ocial and econ rnic strategies. There is a need to develop a theory of material cultur rhetoric and performance which explores the different expressive strategies that can be employed in material action and investigates the conditions of their mobilization.
At the interpretive level, it may be possible increasingly to abandon the use of 'phases' 'periods' and 'ages'. Instead, individual material culture sequences can be discussed in terms of changing and competing narratives and rhetorics. Material culture actions thus have meaning by being placed sequentially in terms of what went before and what comes after~ that is, in terms of plot. Artifact styles can be interpreted as more or less schematic than what went before, more or less integrated, more or less stable, or simply a similar or different from an established tradition. And these backward references can be made metapho-rically or ironically and they might contribute to a progressive (romantic) or fixed (satirical) plot.
But rhetorical device such a metaphor and irony can only be understood contextually.
A material act which is understood as metaphorical at the start of a lived narrative might appear as ironical towards its close. The notion of stereotype or cliche indicates that material culture meanings change through time. The simple repetition of forms may produce a powerful naturalization of a higher concept. But the repetition might al 0, in a different context, only lead to a loss of explicit meaning and to the experience of cliche or negation.
Rhetorical form can thus not be interpreted without reference to narrative content. It is only in terms of what a person is trying to 'say' with material culture and in terms of the social context of use that rhetoric can be understood. ] have, therefore in this paper paid due regard to narfafive a an emplctted e:xp rience of events in time. I have described two grand narratives, the domus and the agrios, the one telling a tale of domestic labour, the regeneration and renewal of the local community, the other telling of warring, hunting. drinking and foreign aggression. But the way (the rhetoric) in which these narratives were emplotted through time, the arguments which were brought into play and the ideological strategies that were used varied through time. It is the dual variation of narrativ and rhetoric which underlie the dry. periodiz.ation of material style sequences. An under tanding and adequate theorizing of narrative and rhetoric might thus be important for the fundamental building blocks of archaeological enquiry.
Department of Archaeology Cambridge University
The narrative and rhetoric of material culture sequences 281
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The narrative and rhetoric of material culture sequences
Archaeological periodization constructs narratives with beginnings middles and ends. But the material culture on which SLLch narratives are built is also involved in narratives according to which past agents lived their-lives. AceorUing to Rieeeur, uch llvednarrattees are al$(1) related '1'0 agents' practical experteneeof time. As archaeologists we h-.wet(\} 'read' past narratives through the rhetoric by which they were expre ed. While Hayden White's scheme for temporal cycles of rhetoric is rejected, the sequence of material culture at Sitagrei IS examined in order to xplore the relationships between the piots written by -a'tchacoi<:>gist and these lived by past agents at. the site. Pa t and pre ent concepts of time are embedded in different narrative and expressed through different rhetorics, but some interaction between the lWO is possible.
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