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Title: A social life for later lithics : a technological and contextual analysis of later Bronze and Earliest Iron Age flintworking in East Anglia, England
Author: McLaren, Andrew Peter
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis investigates the social significance of flintworking and its products for later Bronze (c.1600-800 BC) and Earliest Iron Age (c.800-600 BC) communities in East Anglia, England. It is argued that current understandings of intra- and inter-site variability in British later Bronze and Iron Age chipped stone assemblages remain seriously underdevelepedd~e to both the scale of previous research and common preconceptions about the crudity of these assemblages. At the same time, it is argued that assemblages of both periods have been consistently divorced from their respective material and spatial contexts, denying them the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to broader discussions on the roles of everyday items of material culture in processes of social reproduction during the later 2�d and 1 st millennia BC. This thesis addresses these weaknesses in previous research by approaching the analysis and interpretation of later Bronze and Earliest Iron Age chipped stone assemblages in East Anglia through the theoretical lens of the anthropology of technology and its complementary conceptual cum methodological tool: the chafne operatoire. Technological analyses of 21 chipped stone assemblages from a variety of site types across the study region and periods are complemented by detailed analyses of the contextual associations - material and spatial - of nine of these assemblages. The former demonstrate significant intra- and inter-site variability in core reduction and tool production sequences across the study sites and attest to a general lack of control, or concern over, both processes. Technological data also indicate minimal technological change over time. In keeping with existing models of socially-driven technological change in post-Neolithic chipped stone assemblages in Britain, these data are interpreted as reflecting a gradual and widespread decline in the importance of both structured flaking routines and artefact form in the reproduction of ideas concerning the self and society over the course of the 2nd millennium BC. Contextual data for the nine case study sites are generally consistent with this interpretation, attesting to the disappearance, over time, of chipped stone artefacts in formal funerary deposits and their concomitant ubiquity in the domestic sphere. Nevertheless, they also suggest that, as an integral part of everyday domestic repertoire of later Bronze and Earliest Iron Age communities in East Anglia, chipped stone tools were often caught up in depositional acts that were likely central to processes of social reproduction during these periods. Together, these observations indicate the importance of adopting an approach to prehistoric chipped stone assemblages that maintains an analytically balanced interest in both production sequences and artefact discard.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral