A biographical study of Neolithic hoarding

A regional case study of Funnel Beaker Culture hoards from the Southern Limfjord area, Denmark

  • Casper Sørensen Viborg Museum
  • Mathias Bjørnevad Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4669-2404
  • Peter Bye-Jensen Department of Archaeology, University of Southampton
Keywords: hoarding, Funnel Beaker Culture, object biography, practice theory, Neolithic, ritual

Abstract

The tradition of hoarding axeheads is a well-known phenomenon within the first agrarian societies on the North European Plain. Unfortunately, the majority of known hoards have been found as stray finds or under circumstances with poor or no documentation, leading to considerable source critical issues. However, in this paper we analyze four hoards that have either been professionally excavated or have had their find circumstances recorded and are all found within the same geographical area along the southern Limfjord region of Denmark. The detailed contextual information of these hoards is used as a foundation for interpreting these hoards and question the oft-repeated dualistic categorization of hoards as wetland or dryland phenomena. The analytical method employed in this study uses micro- and macroscopic observations to create biographies for the axeheads and to so shed new light on hoarding practices. This approach challenges the previous macro-scale approaches. The results in the study provide a detailed insight on production, use-life, exchange and deposition of axeheads in hoards within the TRB. The aim of the paper is to forward this analytical approach and to offer a fresh perspective on the TRB hoards. In concluding, avenues for future research and debate are sketched out.

 

References

Amstrup, N. 1955. Kultiveringsproblemer på den tørlagte Søborg sø. Geografisk Tidsskrift, 54, 24-35.

Becker, C.J. 1947. Skæftede stenalder-økser. Fra Nationalmuseets Arbejdsmark, 1947, 21-28.

Becker, C.J. 1950. Rafted Neolithic celts II. Acta Archaeologica, 20, 231-248.

Becker, C.J., 1993. ´Flintminer og flintdistribution ved Limfjorden´. In: J. Lund and J. Ringtved, eds. Kort- Og Råstofstudier Omkring Limfjordsområdet. Aarhus: Aarhus Universitets Trykkeri, 111-135.

Bell, C., 1992. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Berggren, Å., 2010. Med kärret som källa. Om begreppen offer och ritual inom arkeologin. Vägar till Midgård. Lund: Nordic Academic Press.

Berggren, Å. and Stutz, L.N. 2010. From spectator to critic and participant. A new role for archaeology in ritual studies. Journal of Social Archaeology, 10 (2), 171-197.

Bjørnevad, M., Forthcoming a. A biographical analysis of Mesolithic hoarding in southern Scandinavia, (PhD Thesis). Aarhus: Aarhus University.

Bjørnevad, M., Forthcoming b. A relational perspective on entangled biographies in southern Scandinavian Mesolithic hoards.

Bjørnevad, M., and Stephansen, C.F. Forthcoming. Continuity, discontinuity and the social role of hoarding over the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in Southern Scandinavia.

Blinkenberg, C. 1898. Skæftede stenalders redskaber. Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie, 1898, 125-156.

Brück, J. 1999. Ritual and Rationality: Some Problems of Interpretation in European Archaeology. European Journal of Archaeology, 2 (3), 313-334. https://doi.org/10.1179/146195799799726487

Brøndsted, J., 1957. Danmarks Oldtid I. Stenalderen. København: Gyldendal.

Bye-Jensen, P. 2016. ´Causewayed Enclosures under the Microscope: Preliminary Results of a Large Scale Use-Wear Analysis Project´. In: J. Müller, M. Hinz and M. Wunderlich, eds. Megaliths, Societies, Landscapes – Early Moumentality and Social Differentiation in Neolithic Europe. Kiel: University of Kiel.

Bye-Jensen, P, 2019. Causewayed Enclosures Under the Microscope, (PhD Thesis). Southampton: University of Southampton.

Bye-Jensen, P., Forthcoming. ´Taking a closer look – causewayed enclosures through the lens of a large scale use-wear analysis project´. In: M. Bjørnevad and P. B. Jensen, eds. The Life Biography of Artefacts and Ritual Practice: With Case Studies from Mesolithic-Early Bronze Age Europe. Oxford: BAR International Series.

Clausen, C. 2014. Neolithic Cosmology? Adoranten, 2014, 68-75.

Clausen, C., 2016. The Megalithic Lunar Season Pointer, (PhD thesis). Copenhagen: Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Clausen, C., Einicke, O. and Kjærgaard, P. 2008. The orientation of Danish passage graves. Acta Archaeologica, Acta archaeologica supplementa X, 79 (1), 216–229. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0390.2008.00115.x

Ebbesen, K. 1984. Tragtbægerkulturens grønstensøkser. KUML, 1984, 113–153.

Ebbesen, K. 1995. Die nordischen Bernsteinhorte der Trichterbecherkultur. Praehistorische Zeitschrift, 70 (1), 32–89. https://doi.org/10.1515/prhz.1995.70.1.32

Ebbesen, K., 2011. Danmarks megalitgrave. Copenhagen: Attika.

Fogelin, L. 2007. The Archaeology of Religious Ritual. Annual Review of Anthropology, 36, 55–71. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.36.081406.094425

Fontijn, D.R., 2002. Sacrificial Landscapes. Cultural biographies of persons, objects and “natural” places on the Bronze Age of the Southern Netherlands c. 2300-600 BC. Leijden: University of Leijden. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0003598x00093509

Gonzalez-Garcia, A.C. and Costa-Ferrer, L. 2007. Orientation of megalithic monuments in Germany and the Netherlands. Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, 6, 201–208.

Hansen, P.V. and Madsen, B. 1983. Flint Axe Manufacture in the Neolithic. An Experimental lnvestigation of a Flint Axe Manufacture Site at Hastrup Vænget, East Zealand. Journal of Danish Archaeology, 2, 43–59. https://doi.org/10.1080/0108464x.1983.10589891

Højlund, F., 1975. Stridsøksekulturens flintøkser- og mejsler. KUML, 1973-74, 179–196.

Højlund, F., 1979. Stenøkser i Ny Guineas Højland. Hikuin, 5, 31–48.

Jensen, H. J. 1994. Flint Tools and Plant Working – Hidden Traces of Stone Age Technology. Århus: Århus University Press.

Karsten, P., 1994. Att kasta yxan i sjön: en studie över rituell tradition och förändring utifrån skånska neolitiska offerfynd. Stockholm: Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Almqvist & Wiksell Intenational.

Keeley, L. H., 1980. Experimental Determination of Stone Tool Uses. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Keeley. L.H. 1982. Hafting and Retooling: Effects on the Archaeological Record. American Antiquity, 47 (4), 798–809.

Klassen, L. 2014a. ´South Scandinavian Neolithic greenstone axes with a perforated butt.´ In: R.M. Arbogast and A. Greffier-Richard, eds. Entre Archéologie et Écologie, Une Préhistoire de Tous Les Milieux. Mélanges Offerts à Pierre Pétrequin. Annales Littéraires de l’Université de Franche-Comté, No. 928, Environnement, Societés et Archéologie. Besançon: Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, 199-212. https://doi.org/10.3406/ista

Klassen, L., 2014b. Along the Road. Aspects of Causewayed Enclosures in South Scandinavia and Beyond. Aarhus: Museum Østjylland & Aarhus University Press.

Knutsson, K., 1988. Making and Using Stone Tools: The analysis of the lithic assemblages from Middle Neolithic sites with flint in Västerbotten, Northern Sweden. Uppsala: Societas Archaeologicas Upsaliensis.

Koch, E., 1998. Neolithic Bog Pots from Zealand, Møn, Lolland and Falster, København: Nordiske Fortidsminder serie B. Det Kongelige Nordiske Oldskriftselskab.

Kopytoff, Igor., 1986. ´The cultural biography of things: commercialization as a process´. In: A. Appadurai, ed. The Social Life of Things. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 64-91. https://doi.org/10.1017/cbo9780511819582.004

Kristiansen, K., 1985. ´Post-Depositional Formation Processes and the archaeological Record´, In: K. Kristiansen, ed. Archaeological Formation Processes. The Reprenstativity of Archaeological Remains from Danish Prehistory. København: Nationalmuseet, 6-11.

Larsen, L.A. 2015. ´Bilstrup‐Loldrup´. In: Arkæologi i Lange Linjer. 92 Km Arkæologi – 73 Fortællinger – 5.000 Års Historie. Viborg: Viborg Museum, 114-142.

Levy, J., 1982. Social and Religious Organisation in Bronze Age Denmark. Oxford: British Archaeological Reports (International Series).

Madsen, B. 1984. Flint Axe Manufacture in the Neolithic: Experiments with Grinding and Polishing of Thin-Butted Flint Axes. Journal of Danish Archaeology, 3 (1) 47-62. https://doi.org/10.1080/0108464x.1984.10589911

Mikkelsen, M. 2001. VSM 213G (Unpublished Excavation Report). Viborg: Viborg Museum.

Müller, S. 1886. Votivfund fra Sten- og Bronzealderen. Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie, 1886, 216-250.

Nielsen, P.O. 1977. Die Flintbeile der frühen Trichterbecherkultur in Dänemark. Acta Archaeologica, 48, 61-138.

Nielsen, P.O. 1979. De tyknakkede flintøksers kronologi. Aarbøger for Nordisk Oldkyndighed og Historie, 1977, 5-71.

Nielsen, P.O., 1985. ´Neolithic Hoards from Denmark´, In: K. Kristiansen, ed. Archaeological Formation Processes. The Representativity of Archaeological Remains from Danish Prehistory. København: Nationalmuseets Forlag, 102-109.

Olausson, D. 1983. Lithic Technological Analysis of the Thin-Butted Flint Axe. Acta Archaeologica, 53, 1-86.

Olausson, D., Hughes, R. E. and Högber, A. 2012. A new look at Bjurselet: The Neolithic flint caches from Västerbotten, Sweden, using non-destructive energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence analysis for provenance determination. Acta Archaeologica, 83, 83-103. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0390.2012.00576.x

Paulsson, B. S. 2019. Radiocarbon dates and Bayesian modelling support maritime diffusion model for megaliths in Europe. PNAS, 116 (9), 3460-3465. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1813268116

Price, T.D., 2015. Ancient Scandinavia. An Archaeological History from the First Humans to the Vikings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rech, M., 1979. Studien zu Depotfunden der Trichterbecher und Einzelgrabkultur des Nordens. Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag.

Rots, V. 2002. Bright Spots and the Question of Hafting. Anthropologica et Praehistorica, 113, 61-72.

Sjögren, K.-G. 2011. ´C-14 chronology of Scandinavian megalithic tombs´. In: Exploring Time and Matter in Prehistoric Monuments: Absolute Chronology and Rare Rocks in European Megaliths.Menga. Revista de Prehistoria de Andalucía. Junta de Andalucia. Consejería de Cultura, 103-119.

Sjögren, K.-G., Ahlström, T., Blank, M., Price, T.D., Frei, K.M. and Hollund, H.I., 2017. Early Neolithic Human Bog Finds from Falbygden, Western Sweden: New Isotopic, Osteological and Histological Investigations. Journal of Neolithic Archaeology, 19, 97-126. https://doi.org/10.12766/jna.2017.4

Skov, T. 1972a. 15.058 Rydhave (Unpublished Excavation Report). Holstebro: Holstebro Museum.

Skov, T. 1972b. Gudens Gunst. Skalk, 1972 (5), 10-12.

Stutz, L.N., 2003. Embodied Rituals & Ritualized Bodies. Tracing ritual practices in Late Mesolithic burials. Stockholm: Acta Archaeologica Lundensia. Almqvist & Wiksell International.

Sørensen, C. 2017. VSM 09981 Sønder Rævind (Unpublished Excavation Report). Viborg Museum.

Sørensen, L., 2014. From hunter to farmer in Northern Europe. Migration and adapation during the Neolithic and Bronze Age. Acta Archaeologica Supplementa. Vol. 1. Copenhagen: SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen.

Tilley, C., 1996. An ethnography of the Neolithic. Early prehistoric societies in southern Scandinavia. New studies in Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Van Gijn, A., 1990. The Wear and Tear of Flint – Principles of Functional Analysis Applied to Dutch Neolithic Assemblages. Leijden: Analecta Praehistorica Leidensia.

Van Gijn, A., 2010. Flint in focus: Lithic biographies in the Neolithic & Bronze Age. Leijden: Sidestone Press.

Wentink, K., 2006. Ceci n’est pas une hache. Neolithic Depositions in the Northern Netherlands (Masters Thesis). Leijden: Lejiden University.

Wentink, K. 2008. Crafting axes, producing meaning. Neolithic axe depositions in the northern Netherlands. Archaeological Dialogues, 15, 151-203. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1380203808002651

Wentink, K., van Gijn, A., Fontijn, D. 2011. ´Changing contexts, changing meanings: Flint axes in Middle and Late Neolithic communities in the northern Netherlands´, In: V. Davis, M. Edmonds, eds. Stone Axe Studies III. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 399-408. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvh1dv6v.39

Aarsleff, E., 2011. NFHA2862 Novo Nordisk Grundvandskøling (Unpublished Excavation Report). Hil-lerød: Folkemuseet.

Published
2020-01-17
Section
Research Article