Technology, land use and social organisation: Connecting Patterns in Neolithic and Bronze Age Europe

Economic activities and social organisation are commonly assumed to be closely and causally connected. At the same time, the character and organisation of economic activities are to a large extent defined or modified by technological practices and choices – and specific technologies may thus have considerable impact on patterns of land use, which in turn are intimately linked to patterns of social organisation. In connection with the CRC 1266 subproject F 5 ‘Social Dimensions of Technological Change’, this workshop explores how developments in technology and land use in Neolithic and Bronze Age societies of Europe were connected to developments in their social organisation.

The following questions are among the challenges that we aim to address: How do concrete transformations in technology and land use appear to correlate with core aspects of social organisation in Neolithic and Bronze Age societies, potentially including the size of social groups and networks, the dynamics of their settlement and mobility, the nature of territories, divisions of labour, gender roles and relations between age groups? And to which extent can we move from correlating trends in the different lines of evidence to suggesting the causal relationships at play in specific processes? Are these factors really as tightly interlinked in defining culture as often assumed? Indeed, are there cases where social organisation appears more or less unaffected by changes in technology and land use and, if so, is such a lack of cultural ‘synchronization’ common and viable, or does it lead to crisis and collapse?

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Organisers: Niels Nørkjær Johannsen, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University (Spring 2019 Mercator fellow in the CRC1266)
Berit Valentin Eriksen, ZBSA, Foundation of the Schleswig-Holstein State Museums at Schloss Gottorf, Schleswig

Contact: Niels Nørkjær Johannsen (