Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
  • Publication
    A proper place for everything: the character and context of Beaker depositional practice in Ireland
    (University College Dublin. School of Archaeology, 2011)
    In the late third millennium BC, diverse groups of people throughout Europe adopted aspects of a suite of objects and practices known as the Beaker phenomenon including crouched inhumations with grave goods and early metallurgy. How and why this happened has traditionally defied interpretation, but these questions are of key significance to wider understandings of the adoption of novel material culture over millennia. This thesis aimed to create a better understanding of the Beaker phenomenon through a regionally-specific study of the character and context of Beaker-associated depositional practices in Ireland. By examining the depositional choices that were made, insights were gained into the social roles of Beaker objects that help us to understand how and why these were adopted on this island. Existing interpretations of this phenomenon have almost exclusively been based upon findings from the funerary domain. The very wide range of contexts from which evidence for Beaker activities has been found in Ireland represented an opportunity to advance understandings of this phenomenon beyond this. However, no effort had been made to synthesise this information and hitherto, no in-depth study of the manifestation of the Beaker phenomenon in Ireland had ever been conducted, thereby resulting in much misunderstanding. To remedy this, details relating to chance discoveries of Beaker objects, as well as the results from old and new excavations were collated, reassessed, and synthesised. Then, the depositional treatment of Beaker-associated artefacts within each context including settlements, funerary monuments, ceremonial settings and natural places were examined. This revealed that the deposition of Beaker objects in Ireland was structured, selective, type specific, contextually specific and not the product of random acts. These deposits represent the residue of an interlinked system of social practices that were conducted in accordance with long standing traditions. In light of this, traditional interpretations linking the Beaker phenomenon and/or early metallurgy with either the emergence of social complexity or an increase in social stratification were critiqued. This research showed that Beaker-associated material culture played a vital role in facilitating the expression and constraint of personal and group identities, as well as local and international social relations during an era when travel, trade and other forms of international interaction were greatly intensified. It is demonstrated that this international suite of new ideas and objects including metallurgy were adopted and adapted because they fulfilled the distinctive needs of local communities. It was argued that these developments form part of a long sequence of gradual alterations in strategies of identity formation occurring throughout the third millennium BC.
  • Publication
    Transforming our understanding of Neolithic and Chalcolithic society (4000–2200 BC) in Ireland
    (Transport Infrastructure Ireland, 2017-08-24) ;
    The Neolithic is a transformative period marked by major cultural, social and technological change across Europe. Its global significance, long-term social impact and its spread from several origin points continue to be widely discussed. Occurring towards the end of a process involving the spread of agriculture from the Near East around 9000 BC (Robb 2013), the Neolithic period in Ireland is commonly defined chronologically as between 4000 and 2500 BC. In this paper, its final phase is considered to also include the 300 years prior to the start of the Bronze Age c. 2200 BC. The concept of transformation can be applied to this time-span from a number of perspectives, in terms of the establishment of agriculturally based societies on this island and the changes that ensue, but also how our knowledge has been advanced by recent discoveries.
  • Publication
    The Beaker Phenomenon? Understanding the character and context of social practices in Ireland 2500-2000 BC
    (Sidestone Press, 2018-10-22)
    During the mid-third millennium BC, people across Europe started using an international suite of novel material culture including early metalwork and distinctive ceramics known as Beakers. The nature and social significance of this phenomenon, as well as the reasons for its rapid and widespread transmission have been much debated. The adoption of these new ideas and objects in Ireland, Europe's westernmost island, provides a highly suitable case study in which to investigate these issues. While many Beaker-related stone and metal artefacts were previously known from Ireland, a decade of intensive developer-led excavations (1997-2007) resulted in an exponential increase in discoveries of Beaker pottery within apparent settlement contexts across the island. This scenario is radically different from Europe where these objects are found with Beakers in funerary settings, stereotypically with single burials. Using an innovative approach, this book interlinks the study of the pottery and various object types (that have traditionally been studied in isolation) with their context of discovery and depositional treatment to characterise social practices within settlements, funerary monuments, ceremonial settings and natural places. These characterisations deliver rich new understandings of this period which reveal a much more nuanced narrative for this international phenomenon. Significantly, this integrated regional study reveals that the various Beaker-related objects found in Ireland were all deposited during a series of highly structured and rule-bound activities which were strongly influenced by pre-existing Irish traditions. This is a departure from previous interpretations which incorrectly attributed the adoption of Beakers to large-scale immigration or a prestige goods economy. Instead, these new international ideas, objects and practices played an important role in enabling people in Ireland to perform and negotiate their personal and group identities by using this new suite of object to frame and maintain their social relations with other groups across Europe.
  • Publication
    Haunted by the ghost of the Beaker folk?
    (Portland Press Ltd., 2020-01-31)
    A recent Europe-wide study of ancient DNA (aDNA) has exploded some of the preconceptions regarding a long-standing archaeological problem, otherwise known as the Beaker phenomenon. The study's results seemed to indicate that large numbers of people had migrated from continental Europe into Britain around 2500 BCE. In the course of this migration, the newcomers brought their belongings, including Beaker pottery, with them and replaced the pre-existing population and their ways of life. Or at least, this was how the research was presented in the media, e.g., ‘Ancient-genome study finds Bronze Age ‘Beaker culture’ invaded Britain’ or ‘Did Dutch hordes kill off the early Britons who started Stonehenge?’. While the study's conclusions were actually more complex than the headlines suggested, its findings surprised many archaeologists; but had genetics actually solved the Beaker problem?
      190Scopus© Citations 3