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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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Doing Science in the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Copper Age

Doing Science in the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Copper Age

An Insider’s Perspective

(p.391) 20 Doing Science in the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Copper Age
Early Farmers

John Chapman

British Academy

This chapter explores the ways in which categories of class and order have been built up into science in later prehistoric south-east Europe. Five themes related to scientific principles are explored: harmonious proportions and the geometry of buildings; an aesthetic of geometric order for the design of objects; numerology; calendrical observations; and the geometry of plaited patterns and woven structures. It is undesirable to separate the ritual from the domestic, the scientific from the technological or the pragmatic from the symbolic in the interpretation of the material culture under discussion. The author proposes that, under certain social conditions, there arose opportunities for more complex cognitive formulations than in the everyday formulation and use of the four main principles of object design—symmetry, precision, compartmentalisation and standardisation—found over a wide area of central and south-east Europe and covering four millennia.

Keywords:   South-east Europe, geometry, material culture, technology, symbolic

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