Tuesday, January 3, Review: Oxbow books, Oxford, What Gathering Time set out to do was exactly like the example above, but on an enormous scale.
Not only was the aim to produce robust chronologies for individual sites, but to then place them in wider chronologies and within their geographic and typological settings. The book presents radiocarbon dates from nearly 40 causewayed enclosures.
To assess how causewayed enclosures functioned as part of the wider Neolithic landscape and society models were also prepared for a range of monument types, including long cairns and Dating causewayed enclosures and cases barrows.
This brings the total analysed radiocarbon dates to a startling As such it is the largest Bayesian modelling project undertaken. The central findings of the project are that the main period of causewayed enclosure construction lasted from the late 38 th century cal BC to the mid-to-late 36 th century cal BC. Although a number of sites had an active life of several centuries, many were used for relatively shorter periods — some for only a matter of decades.
When this data is incorporated into wider models, encompassing the entirety of the evidence, it is shown that the causewayed enclosures only appeared three centuries after the first Neolithic practices were established in southern Britain.
In particular, it examines the necessary prerequisites for successful implementation of the Bayesian approach — from prior knowledge about sample data taphonomy, association, stratigraphy etc.
Chapterseach deal with the enclosures of a southern British region and place them in the context of contemporary Neolithic activity. In each of these chapters models are presented, along with a review of the broader implications of the new chronologies.
The examination of dates from the Donegore Hill and Magheraboy causewayed enclosures, along with a host of associated determinations, allows the authors to argue that the Neolithic in Ireland began around cal BC. The general conclusion of these chapters is that there is no precedent for the majority of the elements that define the Early Neolithic in the preceding Mesolithic.
These innovations include the domestication of animals, cereal cultivation, rectangular timber structures, bowl pottery etc.
The authors conclude that these elements of Neolithic life first appear in the Greater Thames estuary during the 41 st century cal BC. From there the process of Neolithisation spreads slowly into southern and eastern England, then west into Wales and the Marches by cal BC.
Kerry, have been taken to suggest that Neolithic migrants had unsuccessfully attempted to colonise Ireland, ahead of the later Thames estuary venture. The remarkably early dates from the Magheraboy, Co. Sligo, enclosure 40 th to 39 th centuries cal BC are difficult to accommodate within the available models.
Not only are they significantly earlier than the English examples, but they predate the emergence of other Neolithic practices on the island from the late 39 th to early 38 th centuries cal BC. Based on the totality of the evidence, it is argued that the Neolithic way of life was first introduced to Britain and Ireland from the near Continent.
Similarities in bone and cereal assemblages suggest a number of possible points of origin, including: One of the models advanced suggests that numerous small-scale migrations occurred from multiple departure points, over the course of years. Another proposes a near-simultaneous, large-scale emigration from the Continent, while a third is a combination of the two with a small number of pioneers, by larger numbers over time.
Rather than a large-scale influx of people, the authors argue for rapid acculturation of the native population, especially from the 39 th century cal BC; though they do allow for further waves of Continental migrants coming across the English Channel. The authors conclude that results from the causewayed enclosures fit the emerging pattern for the whole of the Neolithic in southern Britain. Analysis of the animal remains indicated that the values for cattle, sheep, and pig differ consistently across all sites.
This is taken to suggest that a different management regime was in place during the Early Neolithic. Analysis of the human-faunal difference is interpreted as evidence for a high proportion of animal protein either meat or dairy in the diet. This is an extremely complex and involved chapter that, I am sure, will be the basis for discussion and debate for some Dating causewayed enclosures and cases to come.
Even so, the authors make it explicit that the models presented here are not definitive, but are their preferred interpretations, based on the quality of the data available.
In particular, the new chronological framework that the project has revealed allows a series of different timescales to be examined. These include the scales of generation, Dating causewayed enclosures and cases, active social memory, and longer-term structures like myth and story.
The debate as to the function of causewayed enclosures has been around for some time and the authors examine the possibilities, from places of assembly to defuse tensions between rival groups keen to exploit the same limited resources, to places of political and dynastic ritual where access was granted only to a privileged few.
However, no amount of dates and chronological refinements can elucidate the meanings that these sites had to their creators and those who witnessed and partook in the ceremonies carried out there. Nonetheless, analysis of the dates does suggest that they were constructed in three defined phases from an experimental start where a range of shapes and sizes of enclosures were attempted.
This was followed by a rapid expansion of the numbers of enclosures being constructed, increasingly to a common template. Finally, small communities built Dating causewayed enclosures and cases own enclosures to express their own independent identities. The authors admit that the precision with which we may now examine the commencement of the causewayed enclosure phenomenon is not replicated in how we understand their demise.
They appear to have been abandoned, but not wholly forgotten.
They frequently Dating causewayed enclosures and cases in the landscape, sometimes reused and with their ditches recut. As I said at the beginning, the importance of this work is not simply that it has forced a large-scale rewriting of the process of Neolithisation and presented us with a fine-grained chronology of the period, but that it now serves as a template for other researchers to follow.
Whether they study other geographical areas or different time periods, Gathering Time now shows the way forward to us all. Posted by Robert M Chapple at 1: Newer Post Older Post Home. Gathering Time presents the results of a major dating programme that a new chronology for causewayed and related enclosures in southern Britain, Several enclosures were of short duration - in some cases probably in. GATHERING TIME: DATING THE EARLY NEOLITHIC ENCLOSURES OF It is a great shame that the survey of causewayed enclosures and that of the .