Stone Tools and Society: Working Stone in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain

Stone Tools and Society: Working Stone in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain

Stone Tools and Society: Working Stone in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain

Stone Tools and Society: Working Stone in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain

Synopsis

The aim of this book is to explore the changing character and social roles of stone tools of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages in Britain, examining the changing material and social conditions under which tools were produced, acquired, used and deposited.

Excerpt

At an early point in the Neolithic, a highly polished axe was placed by the side of what is now called the Sweet Track in Somerset, a wooden pathway built between areas of drier land during the Earlier Neolithic. Close by lay a small offering contained in a simple pottery bowl and elsewhere were scattered other offerings and chance losses. This beautiful axe commands our attention but its importance extends beyond the character of its depositional context. What is also remarkable is the material from which it is made, for this distinctive speckled green jadeite has its source on the Continent (fig. 26).

The Sweet Track axe provides a point of departure from the patterns discussed in the previous chapter. There it was shown how the simple possession and use of many Earlier Neolithic stone tools may have played an intimate part in shaping the social identities of people. Carried forward through the dull compulsion of everyday life, some may have quietly sustained the divisions of labour and authority

26 Jadeite axes from (left to right): Histon, Cambridgeshire; Sweet Track, Somerset; Bottisham, Cambridgeshire (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge).

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