Balkan Prehistory: Exclusion, Incorporation and Identity

Balkan Prehistory: Exclusion, Incorporation and Identity

Balkan Prehistory: Exclusion, Incorporation and Identity

Balkan Prehistory: Exclusion, Incorporation and Identity

Synopsis

Douglass Bailey's volume fills the huge gap that existed for a comprehensive synthesis, in English, of the archaeology of the Balkans between 6,500 and 2,000 BC; much research on the prehistory of Eastern Europe was inaccessible to a western audience before now, because of linguistic barriers.Bailey argues against traditional interpretations of the period, which focus on the origins of agriculture and animal breeding. He demonstrates that this was a period when monumental social and material changes occurred in the lives of the people in this region, with new technologies and ways of displaying identity. Balkan Prehistory will be required reading for everyone studying the Neolithic, Copper and early Bronze Ages of Eastern Europe.

Excerpt

This book developed over the past ten years or so as, first as a student and then as young lecturer and excavator, I have tried to grapple with the prehistory of south-eastern Europe. As my ignorance of the region and its archaeology has receded I have remained concerned over the absence of a linguistically accessible synthesis and interpretation of what must be one of the world’s most extraordinary periods of prehistory. the classic text, still on course syllabi but long out of print, is Tringham’s Hunters, Fishers and Farmers of Eastern Europe 6000-3000 bc, which will be 30 years old when the present volume appears. Since Tringham carried out her early research and wrote her seminal text, the practice of archaeology, the amount of information available and, perhaps not least importantly, the modern geopolitics of eastern Europe have changed fundamentally.

Where once a desire to study east European prehistory required preliminary campaigns of survey merely to find the relevant language courses or textbooks, today a visit to almost any bookstore or website provides a choice of self-taught language courses in every language necessary. Visa requirements are, marginally, less rigorous and travel and accommodation are no longer the romantic expeditions they once were. Politically, for most east European countries membership in western economic, political and military organizations is following the first ten years of financial and socio-economic networking.

The position of archaeology and archaeologists within the Balkans has also changed. However, it is unfortunate (some would say tragic) that, if anything, archaeology and archaeologists in most Balkan countries are worse off than, perhaps, they have been ever before. the assured financial support and ideological primacy available during the decades of marxist socialism collapsed with the Berlin wall in 1989. Current budgets are thin, if provided at all; if the situation is drastic for national institutes and academies, then it is worse for archaeologists and museums in the provinces. the opening of eastern Europe which has followed the political changes of 1989 has not been accompanied by equally significant increases in support to disciplines such as archaeology (Bailey 1998).

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