Culture and Change in Central European Prehistory: 6th to 1st Millennium BC

Culture and Change in Central European Prehistory: 6th to 1st Millennium BC

Culture and Change in Central European Prehistory: 6th to 1st Millennium BC

Culture and Change in Central European Prehistory: 6th to 1st Millennium BC

Excerpt

This book is an introductory essay about central European prehistory from the first agricultural communities to the formation of urban societies and states several millennia later. It may, I hope, be of interest to a general readership, but students of Scandinavian archaeology may in particular find it helpful. In my experience students have difficulty in obtaining a fairly detailed and, at the same time, cohesive overview of central European prehistory. One obstacle is that much of the relevant literature is in German, which is no longer a natural part of young peoples’ training in Scandinavia. Even those who feel at home in that language may feel at a loss when confronted with the mass of empirical detail. Scandinavian prehistory can, furthermore, hardly be understood isolated from a broad and deep European perspective.

Several anthologies have been published in recent years about European prehistory (e.g. Cunliffe 1997; Milisauskas 2002; Bogucki & Crabtree 2004); and a series of monographs has been written about individual periods in Europe (e.g. Collis 1984; Whittle 1996; Harding 2000; Kristiansen 1998; Kristiansen & Larsson 2005). The present book is unusual in that it takes a central European perspective and reviews the entire period from c. 6000 BC to around the birth of Christ, consistently drawing attention, however, to patterns of interaction with other parts of Europe and with a certain emphasis on the later Neolithic and the Bronze Age. It highlights culture as well as change and thus presents a cultural-historical outline – not in the traditional sense – but rather inspired by French historians’ attempts to integrate various levels of history. It is also akin to the way Ian Morris uses the term in his latest book about Iron Age Greece (2000), hence emphasising cultural and social processes on various levels. Thus, the perspective is discursive and interpretative, yet critical towards mainstream models that have tended to become unquestioned ‘truths’. I have simultaneously tried to . . .

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