Forging Identities: The Mobility of Culture in Bronze Age Europe
Detailed project description
The multi-sited ITN ‘Forging Identities’ wishes to enhance the success of the RTN “Emergence of European Communities” (2-2001-00366). As a result of this project several Ph.D.s have been educated and new evidence has been unearthed concerning the foundations of interaction in Bronze Age Europe between 3000 and 500 BC. This period can now be portrayed as Europe’s first golden epoch with entirely new patterns and forms of social identification, specialised production in several domains, socially complex polities, and wide-reaching interaction networks.
The ‘Emergence’ project has evoked new challenging questions, which demand strengthened European networking and tight interdisciplinary cooperation in order to be answered:
It is the objective of the ITN to provide answers to these and related questions, which will be researched by building on an improved European network and by using a cross-disciplinary methodology combining archaeology, natural science, and sociology. This common platform shall create new knowledge of the mobility of culture – including the new metal bronze – and insight into the responsive forging of European and regional identities that shaped this remarkable period.
During the Bronze Age societies across Europe became linked in new ways while at the same time regional traditions and histories were formed – opposing trends that continued into historical times. The Bronze Age is therefore an ideal laboratory for research in cultural mobility, including its background and those diversities and commonalities on a regional and European level that emerged from increased intercultural trafficking. The combination of archaeology with other scientific frontier approaches – notably palaeo-genetics, isotope analysis, biochemistry and geochemistry – is the methodological core point of the project, which will also incorporate new theoretical perspectives on mobility and receptivity and use front-line IT.
The ITN will enhance the career prospects of young scholars from all over Europe through a cross-disciplinary training scheme dealing with Europe-wide questions of cultural mobility and social identification. The ITN is anchored in networking between eighteen partners distributed over Europe and joined by a common platform of research training activities. Seven network partners will provide academic ‘base camps’ for app. ten ESR for up to three years and four ER over one to two years ensuring their inclusion into already strong research training environments. The fellows will participate in network-wide courses in both sociology-enabled and science-enabled archaeology and in complementary skills. Eleven associated partners will provide secondments, scientific lab facilities, archaeological and scientific data, field school sites and media for public dissemination. Partners have been chosen for their profiles in academia and/or industry hence supplementing each other in achieving the combined objectives of research and training. Among the associated partners are several museums (SMEs): They will enable exploitation of the project results through both new and traditional dissemination media.
The proposal’s emphasis on transnational and cross-disciplinary cooperation in research and training has the potential of elevating the quality of European archaeology and of creating a supradisciplinary field of research. The regional foundation of the project with field school excavations and the involvement of museums will have the potential of triggering new forms of dissemination, and thus tourism.
At the beginning of the Bronze Age people in what is now Europe began to develop a cultural uniqueness, and archaeological evidence attests that societies shared cultural expressions while simultaneously developing local and regional differences. The 2,500 years of the Bronze Age is the first era where convergence – at certain times and in an apparently regular manner – frequently prevailed over divergence. We do not yet know much about these conjunctures or their underlying mechanisms, although they seem to occur relatively independently of early state-organised societies towards the south.
One could argue that due to the common use and shared values assigned to bronze an era of international trade, politics and culture truly began in the Bronze Age, which is also the first ‘industrial’ age. A new notion of commodity exchange in metals entered Europe and new forms of weapons and ornaments could be produced. This development of functional bronze objects, advances in metallurgy and other archaeological evidence allow the hypothesis that movement of people, goods, and ideas across the continent played an important role in this burst of development and creativity. An influential factor was, undoubtedly, the exploration of spatially restricted metallurgical sources of copper, gold, and especially tin, and the connected trade mechanisms that enabled bronze objects and associated technologies and ideas to become widespread across Europe.
These enormously innovative and explorative strategies are differently echoed in other forms of material culture showing similarly innovative developments, particularly in the field of craft production, such as ceramics, amber, glass, and woollen textiles. This suggests that there were several parallel systems of exchange and pooling of both expertise and cultural norms. Another component of this phenomenon may have been new ‘management’ strategies with regard to central economic resources such as specialised breeding and trade in cattle and sheep for wool production. There was also a changing emphasis on the horse in terms of both practical and symbolic uses. Finally, the adaptation of new varieties of plants for agriculture may also have been essential in making the economic basis of local communities broader with potential for specialisation and therefore new types and degrees of collaborations and dependencies between communities.
S&T state of the art
The Bronze Age was a time of close-knit local cultures and of simultaneously porous boundaries. Archaeological knowledge production is in spite of this still linked to national research. During the last decades new knowledge has mostly arisen from settlements and environmental data, and through innumerable rescue excavations. These have built up a good local and regional knowledge base: Extensive data, analyses, and results with a great research potential. However, knowledge about what linked European societies together through movements of goods, ideas and people is underdeveloped.
Recent years have brought revolutionary developments in a number of natural sciences applicable to archaeology, such as for instance palaeo-genetics. The scientists chosen for the proposed ITN are among the leading researchers in these advances. In combination with archaeological data, each method has lately produced thought-provoking results, particularly on the level of sites and regions but also in some measure beyond. Validation and substantiation of this await wider-ranging and systematic programmes of comparative analyses.
Objectives and originality
The proposed project will make it possible for scientists and archaeologists from across Europe to cooperate on historical questions, which transcend national boundaries, and in this way we will begin to create a new body of publicly available knowledge that is relevant regionally and to Europe as a whole.
The project is expected to achieve radically improved knowledge about:
The project is expected to foster:
Originality characterises the research programme at three levels:
The research programme will investigate the forging of European identities by exploring in depth the associated mobility and receptivity of people, knowledge, ideas, things, animals, and plants. It will likewise address the reverse processes of regionalisation that also characterised this decisive period in the history of Europe. On a more general level, the aim is to increase awareness and information about these topics and to build a knowledge bank of value to future inquiries. It is in response to this challenge that the research programme has been designed, aiming at the clarification of a number of problems central to these processes. The observed intensification of mobility during the Bronze Age raises the pivotal questions:
As a step towards approaching these big historical questions the ITN research objective is subdivided into two parts:
People, animals and plants across Europe.The project plans to investigate how, why and to what extent people, plants and animals moved. This will involve studies of the distances involved and of local socio-economic reasons for moving between communities. The project also aims to investigate who moved and why, e.g. marriage, alliance, war, status-travel, trade, or knowledge exchange. Parallel questions will be posed regarding the simultaneous movement of plants and animals. Comparative investigations will be undertaken of local patterns of responses to these movements. Such questions can be pursued through the combination of archaeological methods and data with other scientific frontier methods, notably palaeo-genetics (aDNA) and strontium isotope analysis of human and animal bones. In addition, osteology and pathology will provide information about gender and age variability, disease, health, and traumata. Biochemistry will – in combination with established archaeobotanical methods – be employed to track the transfer of agricultural resources such as new cereals (e.g. rye).
Things, ideas and knowledge across Europe. The project plans to investigate how, why and to what extent things, ideas and knowledge also moved. This will involve studies of cross-cultural as well as regionally limited distribution of things (raw materials, finished bronzes, amber beads, and ceramics etc.) and the attempt to trace social responses and wider socio-economic and political implications locally of these movements. Were bronzes, for instance, mere commodities or did they have added value that could be utilised in identification: Were they invested with specific ideas and became a means of expressing social status? Similarly, how did the radically improved knowledge-base – observable in the exploitation and development of new techniques such as the copper-tin alloy – spread through Europe? Were individual agents, groups or processes of emulation involved? Archaeological and scientific methods such as typology, spectroscopy and isotope geochemistry will be employed to provide additional data about the movements and receptions of raw materials and things, exploring details such as ornamental style, metal composition and the ‘recipes’ for the paste used in pottery inlays.
The overall research strategy is built upon five methodological core points.
1.Engagement of scientific front-line technologies is a key integrative idea of the project, which is multidisciplinary in that it necessitates and optimises close collaboration between archaeology and science. The science technologies selected are the following five:
DNA & isotope science will in combination with archaeological methods and data provide new information on the mobility and origin of humans, animals, and plants. As regards human ancient DNA, it is possible to trace male and female lineages. Stable isotopes, such as notably strontium and oxygen, will in addition to questions of origin and movement provide data on diet and the subsistence economy. Labs in Copenhagen (P.8), Stockholm (P.11), Aarhus (P.1), Cambridge (P. 5), Vienna (P. 10).
Human osteology and pathology will in combination with archaeological methods and data provide new information about patterns of age, sex, disease, trauma, and health. New insights will also be gained by applying cutting edge imaging techniques, e.g., CAT-scanning of bones, applying them in comparative investigations. Labs in Vienna (P. 10), Copenhagen (P. 8), Bratislava (P. 14).
Biochemistry, archaeobotany & archaeozoology will in combination with archaeological methods and data provide new information about the variability of human diet and cuisine. Refined biochemical techniques, GC-MS, will enable studies of cuisine differences down to the family level in terms of food residues on ceramics such as milk, cereals, vegetables, and meat, alcohol (ingredients indicating the presence of beer, mead, or wine). Labs in Stockholm (P.11), Kiel (P. 4), Umeå (P.16), Cambridge (P. 5), Aarhus (P.1), Southampton (P.7), Bratislava (P. 14).
Archaeometallurgy will, in combination with archaeological methods and data, provide new information about the origin, advances, and transfer of metallurgical knowledge. A vast database of metal analyses already exists with large potential for further processing. Primary extraction and analysis of data (Electron Microprobe Analysis EMPA, Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry ICP-MS, and similar methods) are needed from the later Bronze Age and from eastern and southern Europe. Lead Isotope analysis will enable studies of the provenance of metals. Lab in Bochum (P. 9) and further expertise in Berlin (P. 3) and Aarhus (P.1).
Geochemistry will, in combination with archaeological methods and data, provide new information about the origin, advances, and transfer of technological knowledge (other than metal and especially for ceramics). Using modern analytical techniques such as Fourier Transform Infra-red Spectroscopy (FT-IR), Inductively Coupled Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS & ICP-AES), X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Ceramic Petrology, high-quality characterisations of ceramic vessel pastes and inlays will be obtained. Labs in Southampton (P.7), Bochum (P.9), and Umeå (P.16); further expertise in Bratislava (P.14).
2. Data extraction from six geo-regions is another key methodological component, since the project is dependent on knowledge available on a local and regional level. Research efforts will concentrate on the following regions:
• Northern Greece (nw partner 6)
• Carpathian Basin (ass. partners 12, 18)
• The Pontic region (ass. partner 13)
• The East Alpine region (ass. partner 12)
• Central Germany and Poland (ass. partner 15 and nw partner 3)
• Southern Scandinavia (nw partners 1-2 and ass. partners 16 - 17)
These regions form a north-south corridor along the main arteries of cultural contact in Bronze Age Europe, enabling a new knowledge base about the way that people and new culture were received locally and how they were transmitted and/or migrated between societies in Europe.
From each geo-region, data will be extracted and processed using modern archaeological methods: systematic documentation techniques (Intrasis platform), typo-chronological classification (C.A.), processing through GIS-mapping (MapInfo), Analytical processing through multivariate computerised statistics (Archaeo-Info), and archaeological contextualisation through analogical thinking and relational comparison. Excavation (ArchaeoInfo platform) will take place at the summer field schools (see below). The archaeological and scientific data will consist of non-organic finds such as weapons, tools and ornaments of bronze, gold, stone/flint and amber in addition to pottery and organic remains such as human and animal bones and plants preserved as microscopic or macroscopic evidence. Data sets will be selected from houses and settlements, cemeteries and burials, and ritual depositions – so-called hoards.
3. A comparative approach and integration of different scales of analysis are likewise methodological core points. The same research design underscores teams and work packages. This will facilitate comparisons of cases within and between packages, and across geo-regions, and thus the analytical and interpretive integration of data. Comparative analyses will also draw upon case studies from both the innovation centres or hotspots, gateway communities, and the cultural margins of Bronze Age Europe. The approach will furthermore throughout be shaped by the importance of integrating different scales of analysis: the macro-scale network of inter-societal flows can only be properly understood alongside and in comparison with micro-scale practices at the level of households and settlements, of people and their constitution of society.
4. Integration of the newest methods in computer documentation and technology will also be employed. This will facilitate quick knowledge transfer as well as being required in order to 1. regulate and analytically organise complex archaeological and scientific sets of data, and to 2. record and simulate movements of materials, agents, and processes over geographical space.
5. Engagement of a novel theoretical framework in data pattern interpretation is the ultimate methodological core point, to be activated at all levels of research. In brief, the theoretical platform insists on the dialectics of local and super-regional forces conferring equal importance to local strategies of identification and transcultural flows of people, techniques and materials in the making of history. The inseparability of the global and local analysis is echoed in the perspective, organisation, and methodology of the proposed project: it is built upon the realisation that global flows of culture enter into local situations and that intersocietal relations are in turn articulated through local identities and cultures. These two main theoretical entries of Mobility and Receptivity refer to the above posed objectives and to the planned research:
The above five methods will be coupled to two thematic fields of teamwork, Team Mobility and Team Receptivity each enclosing two work packages and each combining archaeology with science and referring to the ITN objectives. The teams will frame the research training, including the half-yearly workshops in connection with training gatherings in January and at summer schools. They will furthermore decide which sets of data will be appropriate to solve particular sets of the problems. The two teams of initial, experienced and senior researchers and associated work packages will contribute equally to the overriding theme of Forging Identities – Europeanisation and regionalisation – tracing and explaining periods with overall regionalisation versus periods of more shared and hybridised culture. Each team will make optimal use of the resources of the home institutions, including their archaeological and scientific staff, but will also integrate the resources of other network partners and of associated partners, who will notably be exploited for secondments and supervision. There will be international advertisements of ESR and ER positions within each field taken into consideration the programmes of the work packages.
Department of Anthropology, Archaeology and Linguistics | Aarhus University | Moesgård Allé 20 | DK-8270 Højbjerg | Denmark | Email: email@example.com | Tel: +45 8942 1111