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Bronze Age Tell Communities in Context - An Exploration Into Culture, Society and the Study of European Prehistory. Part 1 - Critique: Europe and the Mediterranean

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This study challenges current modelling of Bronze Age tell communities in the Carpathian Basin in terms of the evolution of functionally-differentiated, hierarchical or ‘proto-urban’ society under the influence of Mediterranean palatial centres. It is argued that the narrative strategies employed in mainstream theorising of the ‘Bronze Age’ in terms of inevitable social ‘progress’ sets up an artificial dichotomy with earlier Neolithic groups. The result is a reductionist vision of the Bronze Age past which denies continuity evident in many aspects of life and reduces our understanding of European Bronze Age communities to some weak reflection of foreign-derived social types – be they notorious Hawaiian chiefdoms or Mycenaean palatial rule. In order to justify this view, this study looks broadly in two directions: temporal and spatial. First, it is asked how Late Neolithic tell sites of the Carpathian Basin compare to Bronze Age ones, and if we are entitled to assume structural difference or rather ‘progress’ between both epochs. Second, it is examined if a Mediterranean ‘centre’ in any way can contribute to our understanding of Bronze Age tell communities on the ‘periphery’. It is argued that current Neo-Diffusionism has us essentialise from much richer and diverse evidence of past social and cultural realities. Instead, archaeology is called on to contribute to an understanding of the historically specific expressions of the human condition and human agency, not to reduce past lives to abstract stages on the teleological ladder of social evolution. 21x29, Brossura, pp. 168, Ill. b/n