Causewayed enclosures and megalithic monuments as media for shaping Neolithic identities

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Niels H. Andersen


In this paper I proffer the opinion that acceptance of the real Neolithic way of life, to become a full-time farmer, was a long and complicated process which, in Northern Europe, reached its peak during the second half of the fourth millennium. Here we see the introduction and acceptance of the ard. This demanded clearance of large areas, but also provided the possibility of cultivating greater areas and poorer soils. It must have created room for more inhabitants. This, in turn, could have given rise to various discrepancies which they man-aged to handle through the performance of many ritual activities. These are apparent today as traces of the construction of numerous megalithic features and of causewayed enclosures in which the special activities took place. We find these activities materialised in the special treatment of, especially, human bones, animal bones, ceramics, flint axes, querns and grinding stones and of grain. These materials have for the most part been subject to major transformation, for example burning and fragmentation, conferring on them a new significance. The deposition of these fragments in various places and the great efforts expended in building the megaliths and the enclosures must have bound people together, creating a network between the people who participated in these activities, and henceforth maintaining and reinforcing this or new networks by way of these actions. To employ a modern concept, they were using team building as a basis for acceptance of the Neolithic way of life.

The proposals presented here are the result of archaeological research carried out in the Sarup area, on the SW part of Funen, Denmark, since 1971.

Within a small area of 12 km2, numerous Neolithic monuments such as houses, megalithic structures and causewayed enclosures have been found and excavated. Some of the results of this research are presented in this article.

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Andersen 2010: N. H. Andersen, Causewayed enclosures and megalithic monuments as media for shaping Neolithic identities. JNA 12, 2, 2010. DOI: