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The Trypillia Mega-Sites of the Ukrainian Forest-Steppe

Abstract

Food is an excellent medium through which to explore trade, economies, migration and landscapes, yet little is known about food production and consumption in the Roman province of Pannonia. Here we explore the current evidence for agriculture, trade and diet in southern Pannonia (modern day eastern Croatia) and what this may say about life in the region. The influx of new ‘exotic’ foods and technologies had a profound influence on this region. The limited archaeobotanical data suggests complex trade and local agricultural systems that allowed large towns such as Mursa, Cibalae and Siscia to gain access to a wide range of food items. The large quantities of pottery found not only helps us understand traded goods but also the local tastes and fashions, as well as to infer the types of dishes that could have been cooked. More evidence is clearly needed in this region but what we can see so far is that urban centres along the Danube Limes were firmly integrated within the wider Roman food system and that diets were probably quite varied for many who lived there.

Abstract

Following on from a few decades of osteological analysis this study presents an assessment of the data retrieved from human population samples provided by four early farming sites, namely Ilıpınar, Menteşe, Barcın and Aktopraklık, located in the lake basins southeast of the Sea of Marmara. It highlights various aspects of that population such as demographic data, health, trauma, and ancient people’s attitude toward death. The research aims to identify and discuss similarities and dissimilarities between the studied Neolithic settlements in this region, especially with regard to paleo-demographic data and the use of violence. With exception of a small group of burials at Aktopraklık that contrasted with regular inhumations, it seems that mortuary practices barely differed from one community to another, and transcended across regional boundaries. The use of wooden planks covering the bottom of grave pits, which were first discovered at Ilıpınar, may serve as an example. Early farmers of the eastern Marmara region suffered mostly from joint diseases and degenerative arthritis. Their life expectancy was similar for adults of both sexes, at between 25–40 years, while two of the four communities showed high infant mortality.

Abstract

In an archaeometric research project supported by the Volkswagen Foundation (Project 90216 [https://earlynomads.wordpress.com/]), working groups consisting of chemists, geologists and archaeologists in Berlin, Kiev and Saint Petersburg collaborated on analysing pottery recovered from Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age burials and settlements from sites of different archaeological cultures in the steppes and forest steppes north of the Black Sea. The article presents the results of the classification of 201 samples using energy-dispersive X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer (pXRF) compared to the results of MGR-analysis and WD-XRF of these samples. Fingerprints for the seven sites studied could be defined.

Abstract

In this editorial article for the Special Issue on Unlocking Sacred Landscapes: Digital Humanities and Ritual Space, we introduce the applicability of digital humanities to the study of ritual space. The Issue focuses on digital approaches both to ritual space and to artefacts relating to ritual practice and cult. The terms ritual and cult are used broadly to include sanctuaries, temples and churches, as well as the domestic and funerary spheres of life. We include contributions with a strong methodological focus on computational developments, digitisation processes and spatial analyses. Although the main focus of the Unlocking Sacred Landscapes (UnSaLa) Research Network is the Mediterranean region, we have also encouraged colleagues working in other areas of the world to contribute to this volume, with a view to stimulating wider methodological dialogues and comparative approaches. The chronological span ranges from prehistory to the recent past, and includes cultural heritage management.

Abstract

This paper discusses how coastal societies in northwestern Scandinavia were able to rise in power by strategically utilizing the natural ecology and landscape in which they were situated. From two case studies (the Norwegian regions of Lista and Tananger), it is shown that it was possible to control the flow of goods up and down the coast at certain bottlenecks but that this also created an unstable society in which conflict between neighboring groups occurred often. More specifically the paper outlines an organizational strategy that may be applicable cross-culturally.

Abstract

Arguing for an integrated wool-textile economy in the Bronze Age, this paper assesses characteristics and scale of pastoral economy and sheepherding at the Terramare settlement of Montale (Modena province, Italy). Previous studies argued that Montale was a Bronze Age centre of wool production. The present work enhances the understanding of the local textile economy by investigating the evidence for sheepherding and landscape management at the site. It also proposes an interdisciplinary-based approach to investigate and reconstruct pastoral economy and sheepherding strategies in other prehistoric contexts as well.

Abstract

This article uses directional visibility analysis to assess the defensibility of two Iron Age (9th–8th cent. BCE) sites from the Nebo region of west-central Jordan: the fortified town of Khirbat al-Mukhayyat and its adjacent watchtower at Rujm al-Mukhayyat. Directional visibility cones illustrate how the improved viewsheds afforded by the watchtower at Rujm al-Mukhayyat were needed to establish line of sight between Khirbat al-Mukhayyat and other settlements located higher up on the Transjordanian plateau. Without the addition of the watchtower, Khirbat al-Mukhayyat would have been cut off from direct communication with nearby towns at Hesban and Ma’in. Despite the increased visibility provided by the watchtower at Rujm al-Mukhayyat, Khirbat al-Mukhayyat retained limited capacity to monitor movement to the south in the vicinity of Ma’in. Further, it could not establish direct visual contact with the important urban centre at Madaba to the southeast. These findings may have implications for understanding the military strategy adopted by the Moabite king Mesha in his mid-9th century BCE campaign against the Town of Nebo, identified with Khirbat al-Mukhayyat.

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Zusammenfassung

Die Cougnac-Höhle ist nicht nur eine der ältesten und am längsten genutzten Kultstätten der Menschheit (25.000–14.000 BP), sondern auch jenes Heiligtum, dessen Gemälde die animistischen Glaubensvorstellungen des Jungpaläolithikums deutlich vor Augen führen. Durch präzise ikonografische Bildanalysen unterscheidet der Beitrag zwischen den mythischen Darstellungen der Glaubensinhalte, den kultischen Repräsentationen der Magier, den Chiffren der Sexualsimulation sowie den magischen Riten, um alsdann deren wechselseitige Bezüge herauszuarbeiten. Dies geschieht anhand des etwa 30 m langen Frieses von Cougnac, der eine sequenzielle Bildgeschichte erzählt. Die Geschichte handelt von zwei Ermordeten, die sich reinkarnieren; der eine in ein Mammut, der andere in einen Riesenhirsch. Begleitet werden ihre Seelenwanderungen von zwei Magiern, die mit zwei Hilfsgeistern, einem Hirsch und einem Vogel, durchs Totenreich fliegen. In der nachfolgenden Bildsequenz werden Felswandvulven von aviformen Zeichen umschwärmt, wobei die Sexualisierung der Felswand ein restituierendes Gegenstück zu den anfänglichen Mordszenen darstellt. Schließlich wurden die einzelnen Szenen sowie abschließend noch eine ganze Halle mit rituellen Fingerabdrücken markiert, womit die Adepten sich auf den Felswänden verewigten und dafür im Gegenzug das Mana der Felswand empfingen. Analysiert wird auch die sehr ähnliche Bildgeschichte der Mordszene von Pech-Merle. Der Beitrag schließt mit Betrachtungen zum Todesbewusstsein im Jungpaläolithikum sowie dessen Bedeutung für die conditio humana.