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Early FarmersThe View from Archaeology and Science$
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Alasdair Whittle and Penny Bickle

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265758

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265758.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 04 December 2021

Revealing Our Vibrant Past

Revealing Our Vibrant Past

Science, Materiality and the Neolithic

(p.327) 17 Revealing Our Vibrant Past
Early Farmers

Oliver J.T. Harris

British Academy

This chapter argues that, despite some valiant attempts, archaeologists are still struggling with fundamental tensions between science and theory, and in effect, between nature and culture. These oppositions have been a particular bone of contention in the transition to farming, and continue to frustrate attempts to move the debate forward. By drawing on wider discussions of a potential ‘ontological turn’ in archaeology, and in particular the potential for thinking through the past as assemblages of vibrant matter, the chapter outlines an alternative perspective. This is then applied to two sites in Britain, one Mesolithic and one Neolithic, to examine how turning to this approach might open up new understandings of the similarities and differences between the two periods, and set the stage for a reconsideration of the transition itself.

Keywords:   Ontology, assemblage theory, vibrant matter, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Britain, transitions

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