Landscape and technology in the Peak District of Derbyshire : the fifth and fourth millennia B.C.
This thesis is concerned with two closely related themes: the inhabitation of the Peak District over the fifth and fourth millennia BC, and the procedures and principles by which we attempt to interpret the durable material traces thereof. A four stage interpretative framework is outlined. Social life is understood through its materiality. The engagement of the self with others is constrained and enabled by that materiality. Archaeologists can represent that process through a textual model. Analogical reasoning mediates each stage and must be made explicit. The Mesolithic and Neolithic, analytical objects constructed through conceptual metaphors, fail to express time and the materiality of practice as mutually constitutive. An integrated theory of landscape and technology is proposed whereby artefacts are understood in terms of relational metaphors, situating them in practice and capturing both their materiality and temporality. Prior research in the study area is critiqued on the basis that the historically specific material conditions therein cannot support models transposed from other regional contexts. A methodology for collection and analysis is developed which privileges those specific conditions in the interpretation of prehistoric technology. Artefact assemblages, it is argued, offer us no unmediated access to prehistoric settlement. No immediate functional equivalence between aggregations similar in composition should be expected. The analysis of stone tools and waste must be integrated with other categories of evidence and interpreted in terms of the potentials offered by their socio-physical context. Original data are analysed in terms of assemblage density, raw material and technological composition, chronological patterning and landscape situation. Integration into the regional corpus, through an explicitly multi-scalar approach, attends to the constitution of social life through practice and developing tradition. The role ascribed to early `monuments' by other archaeologists is particularly brought into question, with respect to the model of relational practice maintained throughout the dissertation.