The faces behind the façade: monuments and their associated practices in Neolithic Britain

Author(s): Benjamin Chan

Year: 2015


Over the last forty years the analysis of monuments has lain at the center of our understanding of Neolithic societies. Interpretative approaches toward monuments range in scale from the overarching view of Renfrew’s emerging chiefdoms to embodied perspectives focusing on their materiality. Regardless of analytical scale, most accounts treat monuments as complete architectural forms and fail to grasp the significance of the wider activities that surrounded their construction and use. This paper will show how recent excavations at both Durrington Walls, Wessex and the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney have revealed the milieu of activities that surrounded these sites. These involved both routine daily subsistence practices and also episodes of feasting and mass consumption. The manner in which eating, drinking, sleeping, stone working, wood working and other technical activities were interwoven in the use of ceremonial monuments questions the persistent notion of a dualism of ritual and domestic life. Moreover, it suggests that the wider practices surrounding the construction and use of monument complexes provided an arena for social reproduction, the transmission of skills and the negotiation of social identities and were one of the driving forces behind the spread of ideas and technological practices over large geographic areas.

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The faces behind the façade: monuments and their associated practices in Neolithic Britain. Benjamin Chan. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397531)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;