Der soziale Raum zur Zeit der Trichterbecherkultur – Aspekte der Landschaftsraumnutzung am Beispiel der Verbreitung von Siedlungen und Megalithanlagen in Nordwestseeland, Dänemark

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Almut Schülke


The paper presents preliminary results from my ongoing research project with the title “Social Space during the Funnel Beaker culture. A landscape archaeological analysis of North- western Zealand, Denmark”. The aim of my study is to analyse the material dated to the Funnel Beaker culture from North-western Zealand typologically, chronologically and topographically, and to discuss it in the light of theoretical approaches to the structuring of space and the meaning of human-made and perceived surroundings. These surroundings, here called “social space”, contain “natural” as well as material and non-material “cultural” elements, which result from human interaction. The study concentrates on two aspects, which both focus on the notion of mobility: Firstly with the level of the “subject” (How do human beings move in a physical and a mental sense?), and secondly with the level of the “object” (How complex are objects’ movements?). These two aspects shall be discussed in connection with the finds from the Funnel Beaker culture from the study area, to investigate the shifting contexts that are enclosed in their material setting. In the course of the project the archaeological data is registered in a database, which can be connected to the GIS program Map.Info. The landscape of North-western Zealand, about 30 x 25 km big, varies with different kinds of coasts, inland-water, bogs, flat planes and mountain ridges (Table 1). It is rich in Funnel Beaker material, among others due to many archaeological campaigns in the area. Compared to other regions particularly many settlements, megalithic monuments and bog finds occur together (Figure 1 and Table 2). As a starting point for this preliminary analysis, the material has been divided in three phases, Early Neolithic I (EN I, ca. 3900–3500 BC), Early Neolithic II to Middel Neolithic II (EN II – MN II, ca. 3500–3000 BC) and Middel Neolithic III – Middle Neolithic V (MN III – V, ca. 3000–2800 BC), a division that also is used in related studies. Settlements and megalithic monuments (for the numbers of settlements see Figure 2 and 3, for number of megalithic types see Figure 4) and their spatial distribution have been discussed and compared for each chronological period. The spatial distribution of the settlements in EN I (the only non-megalithic long barrow is not mapped here) is related closely to big inland-water areas and to the coast. Spatially it stands in a Mesolithic tradition (Table 3). During EN II – MN II the number of settlements increases prominently, situated in the inland as well as at the coast, and the megalithic monuments occur in high numbers, spread over nearly the whole area (Table 4). In MN III – V the intensity of settlement decreases with locations in the same areas as in the foregoing period. An overview over the time periods represented on the individual settlements shows that most of the settlements only have been used during one period (Figure 5), though with a tendency for some more continuities between EN II – MN II and MN III – V. The overall development indicates that there must have been a profound change between EN I and EN II – MN II, with the erection of megalithic monuments and the “colonisation” of the inland, but that there also have been elements of continuity, which are, during the whole Funnel Beaker Culture, represented through the sites at the coast. The question is, how to interpret their continuous use: Do we see a splitting of society in two groups with a “traditional” group still using the places at the cost, or do the people that move into the inland, have a divided form of labour and still use the places occasionally/ seasonly as hunting and fishing stations? In any case, EN II – MN II seems, compared to the previous and the following period, like a period characterised through high mobility, in the sense of intra-cultural communication (between one group or between many groups within Funnel Beaker society) along with more advanced and complicated physical transport of heavy material.

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Schülke 2008: A. Schülke, Der soziale Raum zur Zeit der Trichterbecherkultur – Aspekte der Landschaftsraumnutzung am Beispiel der Verbreitung von Siedlungen und Megalithanlagen in Nordwestseeland, Dänemark. JNA, 2008. DOI: