Prehistoric Conflict Resolution: Archaeology’s unique position to address today’s problems.

Author(s): Andrew Martin

Year: 2016


At the geographical interface between two cultures or worldviews, there are often found a hybrid or unexpected set of burial practices that mix ideas from each culture. This is the case for numerous prehistoric and historic cultures including the North American Hopewell and British Early Bronze Age, which will be examined here. However, if we look closely at these instances, there exists much more than just a borrowing of ideas. Amalgamations are often accompanied by acts of violence, destruction of each other’s tombs and use of each other’s traits in very different ways, before differences are resolved through amalgamation. These conflicts and the resulting resolutions appear to be the catalyst for subsequent changes to the overall culture.

One lesson from the Islamic destruction of temples and religious sites is that people outside of the Western world give far more importance to religion than us. In a similar way, prehistoric religious conflicts illustrate the stark difference between modern and non-modern views of religion. They also provide a unique opportunity to examine how religious conflicts were resolved. This paper will examine several conflicts, their resolutions and what they mean for a conception of non-modern religion, as explored in my book "Archaeology Beyond Postmodernity."

Cite this Record

Prehistoric Conflict Resolution: Archaeology’s unique position to address today’s problems.. Andrew Martin. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404542)

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