Ritual and Domestic Life in Prehistoric Europe
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This fascinating study explores how our prehistoric ancestors developed rituals from everyday life and domestic activities. Richard Bradley contends that for much of the prehistoric period, ritual was not a distinct sphere of activity. Rather it was the way in which different features of the domestic world were played out until they took on qualities of theatrical performance.
With extensive illustrated case-studies, this book examines farming, craft production and the occupation of houses, all of which were ritualized in prehistoric Europe. Successive chapters discuss the ways in which ritual has been studied, drawing on a series of examples that range from Greece to Norway and from Romania to Portugal. They consider practices that extend from the Mesolithic period to the Early Middle Ages and discuss the ways in which ritual and domestic life were intertwined.
point is provided by its title. This is an account of ritual and domestic life, and it is restricted to the archaeological evidence from prehistoric Europe. Both these elements are important. This is not an enquiry into the nature of ritual as a universal feature of human experience (Rappaport 1999). I shall pay little attention to the archaeology of the ancient mind (Mithen 1998), nor am I concerned with conceptions of the supernatural and the reasons why they developed (Boyer 1994). The book
deposited with some formality. The same applies to the ‘house urns’ of the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age. These are found in two quite different areas of Europe, although it seems likely that the people who made and used them were in contact with one another (Behn 1924; Bradley 2002b). Those in Central Italy are clearly copies of the timber dwellings of the same period and share their characteristic distribution 50 THE CONSECRATION OF THE HOUSE Figure 2.6 Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age house
entire complex exhibits the same organisation of space as the separate buildings within it. Could it be that the hill itself was conceived as one great house? Such connections are not peculiar to the regions with a tradition of circular buildings. Another example comes from the Northern Netherlands. Here Waterbolk (1977) has identiﬁed a distinctive group of square or rectangular enclosures whose dates extend between about 350 BC and AD 100. They are deﬁned by ditches or fences, and two of them
a lot to be desired. (1981: 47) In fact his argument may be understated, as the extent of cultivable land in Bohuslän could have increased as the sea level fell after these carvings were made. He also observes that drawings of ards occur in the same small area – and sometimes on the same carved surfaces – as representations of wheeled vehicles. In one case, at Backa, ‘within a group of six carts is an ard pulled . . . by two . . . draught animals. As with three of the cart designs nearby, the
PIT 0 20 m Figure 4.4 The relationship of Neolithic houses to graves and pits at Tofta (upper drawing) and (below) Dagstorp, Southern Sweden. Information from M. Andersson (2003). 133 WHERE THE STRESS FALLS That may not provide the complete answer, and at a number of points in his text Malmer acknowledges the problem. Thus ‘the settlement at Häggsta . . . includes a structure that was no doubt built for ritual purposes’ (2002: 98); a hearth surrounded by ﬂat stones at Djupvik ‘is most