Routines are the stuff of life: innumerable, repeated actions, which time after time keep the world in existence. It is impossible to envisage a Neolithic world in any detail without thinking about the conditions in which people, day after day, and from season to season, cooked, ate, gathered, talked, resided, looked after their animals, or moved through and attended to the landscapes which they inhabited. Routines comprise things that have to be done for life to go on, their very repetition creating what has been called a sense of ‘ontological security’. Because they are quite varied, though each one in itself is repeating, routines embrace different kinds and scales of social interaction or sociality, in varying settings. Many routine actions may be carried out unthinkingly or unconsciously, though not necessarily all of them, and their cumulative effect may often be what has been called the ‘unintentional reproduction of structures’. Routines are embodied, but rarely neutral in meaning or on reflection. They may be both generated by and in their turn help to generate culturally specific principles and worldviews. Because of this varied nature, routines are at the heart of considerable diversity and yet also of much that was held in common among people widely separated in space and time. They have been discussed widely in other disciplines, but rarely thought about in detail in interpretive accounts of prehistory. Rather, in the ways we divide up and write about our subject, the emphasis has tended to be on largely disembodied and asocial, separated procedures: residence as questions of numbers or duration; crop processing and animal husbandry as techniques and procedures; landscape as static settlement patterns; and so on. Routines are a potentially rich field of enquiry, and this topic is an exploratory attempt to examine their importance for winning a better understanding of being there.
It is important to resist reducing routines to single dimensions. Giddens, for example, has used the insights and experiments of ‘symbolic interactionists’ and ‘ethnomethodologists’ like Goffman and Garfinkel, as well as the approach of Bourdieu, to suggest that people are normally predisposed to see their routine existence maintained, which promotes the unintentional reproduction of structures (Giddens 1979, 218-19; Baert 1998, 80, 106). Goffman studied small slices of contemporary society in America, to examine encounters and the skilful accomplishment of order and predictability by the individuals concerned. His central concern was with the performances, guided by tacit and practical rules and by a sense of situational propriety, of people in interaction with an audience of others (Goffman 1963; 1969). Garfinkel too was interested in the routine of life, and in how people make sense of things. He suggested that people do this constantly, by ‘reflectivity of accounts’, without explicit recourse to conscious knowledge of the rules (1967, 7—9). His experiments with how people react to breaches in trust were designed to show what happened when routines were disrupted, including the considerable reluctance of people to alter their use of implicit rules and ways of going about things. ‘Ontological security’ (Giddens 1979, 219; cf. Dickens 1990), no matter how vague a concept that may be, is something that people are normally reluctant to let go, and this may be an important factor in promoting or enabling continuity of practice.
Routines are powerful, complex and varied. Many operate by recourse to shared rules and procedures, because otherwise there would be no intersubjectivity or awareness of the feelings and attitudes of others. This raises again the question of the consciousness with which routine actions are carried out. The literature seems to reflect two positions. On the one hand, there is an influential lobby for the view that routine action can be and is normally carried out unthinkingly and unconsciously, with the further effect of unintentional reproduction of ‘structures’. This has already been noted above from the work of Goffman and Garfinkel, and of Giddens (1979, 216—30), and, unsurprisingly, is also to be found in discussions by Bourdieu (e.g. 1977, 218, note 44; and see below), though precisely how intersubjectivity is created through the habitus does not seem to be explicitly addressed. On the other hand, Ingold has advanced a dwelling perspective, drawing in large part on Merleau-Ponty and Heidegger, which brings in a sense of people engaged in dealing with the world, attending to what needs to be done in their taskscape. The dwelling perspective seeks to give a better sense of how people get on in a world which is not pre-given, ‘taking the human condition to be that of a being enmeshed from the start, like other creatures, in an active, practical and perceptual engagement with constituents of the dwelt-in world’ (Ingold 1996, 120—1); ‘apprehending the world is not a matter of construction but of engagement, not of building but of dwelling, not of making a view of the world but of taking up a view in it’ (Ingold 1996, 121); and finally, ‘knowledge of the world is gained by moving about in it, exploring it, attending to it, ever alert to the signs by which it is revealed’ (Ingold 1996, 141). The sense of active attention to the world is demonstrated in the example of Bruegel’s Harvesters, noted in the previous topic (Ingold 1993, 164—71). Stressing the way in which the world is constantly being carried forward, the account also places people in the centre of the taskscape, active, responsive to each other, aware of their past and future, and in tune with the landscape resonating around them (Ingold 1993, 170—1).
As with the discussion of agency in the previous topic, I believe that it is important to avoid having to choose one of these positions at the expense of the other. Routine action is part of agency, and both are complex and varied, and not to be reduced to simple propositions. Some action may normally be carried out unconsciously or unthinkingly, with people barely aware of its wider potential meaning.
Other action may be done with a kind of submerged consciousness of its significance, as in the case of the decorative carving of houses in Madagascar (Bloch 1995a), such that questions about it from outsiders seem ludicrous and pointless to the people involved. In other cases, motivation and intentionality may be much more squarely in the foreground.
Learning may be a useful example. There is evidence to suggest that learning begins in the womb, with the primary absorption of both language and a sense of bodily orientation (Gopnik et al. 1999). Bodily orientation may come to be central in later life, as James Weiner (1991, 73; and see below) has suggested for the Foi of Papua New Guinea. Much learning probably takes place informally during childhood (e.g. Mead 1943; Lepowsky 1990). With reference to the house, Bourdieu (1977, 90) has pronounced that ‘the ‘topic’ from which the children learn their vision of the world is read with the body, in and through the movements and displacements which make the space within which they are enacted as much as they are made by it’. Much of what is vital may simply be picked up by participation and imitation. J.F. Weiner (1991, 37) has noted how the Foi individual male, to whom movement through the landscape is vital, must pick up knowledge of territory in a piecemeal fashion, but with his father or guardian showing him ‘one by one the places available to him’. It is clear then that informality of learning need not always be the same as unconscious learning. And there is initiation, a recurrent though not universal formal passage to adulthood (e.g. M. Allen 1998; Meigs 1984; 1990; Power and Watts 1997). At initiation there are recurrently separation and a heightening of consciousness, and a passing on not only of knowledge and a sense of identity, related both to group and to gender (including in the process apparent gender reversals: Power and Watts 1997), but also of concepts of activity and behaviour appropriate to the initiated. These have varied from rules about food for young male initiates among the Hua of Papua New Guinea (Meigs 1984), to shortlived ritualised male homosexuality in various parts of Melanesia as a whole, important for the transference of semen as symbolic of male potency and representative of the giving of milk by mothers (Allen 1998). Among the Foi, men initiated boys into a major cult designed to promote good relations with ghosts and thereby to overcome illness and lead to success in sorcery (J.F. Weiner 1988, 56). Initiates ranged from boys of nine to young married men (J.F. Weiner 1988, 58). Some food-associated taboos for men lasted until ‘advanced middle age’, related to central notions of proper relations between women and men (J.F. Weiner 1988, 61). Here then are examples of explicit instruction in non-trivial behaviours, some to be longer lasting than others, which are imposed on the young from the stages of childhood up to early adulthood.
Two longer examples, not from archaeology, can give a more extended idea of the various possibilities hinted at so far. James Weiner has written strikingly about the way in which among the Foi, women interrupt the talk of men, calling, commenting and interrupting from their smaller houses which flank the longhouse, where the men reside and also sleep, when they are all together in their central settlement (J.F. Weiner 1991, 5; 1988). The people are not always together. In the drier half of the year, people are congregated in the central settlement, focused on both gardening and communal life based around the longhouse, with its attendant emphasis on ‘gregariousness, competitiveness and confrontation’ (J.F. Weiner 1991, 8). Public life in the longhouse collective is contrasted with the intimate sociality of the bush-house, never more than an hour away (J.F. Weiner 1988, 38), in which the smaller unit of man and wife and immediate family work closely in complementary ways to achieve their own production goals. The wetter season of the year was associated with dispersal, especially to remote and isolated hunting lodges, and men’s experiences in this domain constituted much of the stuff of talk back in the longhouse (J.F. Weiner 1991, 35). Here, very vividly, are a series of routines and socialities. The Foi orientate themselves partly with reference to the flow of the rivers along whose banks they garden, and they make sense of life in their songs and their myths by reference to ideas of flow and movement.
In a different setting, Mark Harris (1998; 2000) has described the changing routines and socialities of life on the Amazonian floodplain. Here the fluctuating height of the river sets basic conditions. It is the dry season which leads to dispersal and movement, and the wet season to unavoidable static congregation in dispersed houses. Seasonality is not just a matter of adapting to a framework of external environmental constraints, but is experienced by changes in sociality and mood. The flood times, in which people are largely confined to their houses, are felt to be boring, lacking wider sociality, and yet regenerative, because focused on the individual house and relations among the immediate family (Harris 1998, 78). The dry season is associated with a revival of spirits, more food, periodic festive aggregations, interaction with strangers, exchange and generosity, though it is linked also with an increase in tension and gossip (Harris 1998, 77). Routines, in this account, resonate with ‘the rhythms of the dwelt-in environment’, and are part of the ‘work in motion’ of bringing the world repeatedly into existence (Harris 1998, 79).
In exploring routines and sociality in the Neolithic setting, with the evidence of archaeology rather than of ethnography and social theory, this topic will concentrate on the body, residence, subsistence tasks, and movement through the landscape. This is a barely explored field of enquiry, which can potentially contribute to better understanding not only of any one situation but also of central questions of continuity, diversity and change. I will return to those issues throughout this topic.
An archaeology of the body?
The body seems a good place to start. There are the Ice Man (see Spindler et al. 1995) and innumerable skeletons. These have been more or less carefully examined, but with surprisingly little integration of results into a view of daily life. Skeletons are routinely aged and sexed, with the resulting data normally employed in reconstructions of social formations and now gender relations, while pathologies and traumas are often regarded as unusual oddities. Only recently has a more forensic approach begun to be applied to the human body itself, with new insights into how the human body carries on it evidence of activity and lifestyle.
Meanwhile, social theorists have been arguing for years the central importance of the body; indeed Weiner (1991, 63) points out that this tradition goes back to Malinowski. Merleau-Ponty (1962) was one of the first in more recent times explicitly to challenge the Cartesian separation of mind and body, and to suggest the body and its movements as the source of orientation and perception of the world. Bourdieu too, as already noted, gave great importance to the body. Sometimes this is a rather generalised, almost abstract body, as when he declares (1977, 218, note 44):
Every group entrusts to bodily automatisms those principles most basic to it and most indispensable to its conservation. In societies which lack any other recording and objectifying instrument, inherited knowledge can survive only in its embodied state. . . . The body is thus continuously mingled with all the knowledge it reproduces, which can never have the objectivity and distance stemming from objectification in writing.
In other instances, however, especially in his study of the Kabyle house, the body is both in focus and gendered: ‘whereas for the man, the house is not so much a place he enters as a place he comes out of, movement inward properly befits the woman’ (Bourdieu 1977, 91). Henrietta Moore has discussed the extent to which Bourdieu’s ‘dumb imperatives’ of the body are consistent with any sense of agency, and suggests in his defence that praxis or action is itself a moment of interpretation, and that embodiment is a never finished process (Moore 1994). Bourdieu’s reference to the ‘arbitrary content of a culture’ (1977, 91) chimes well with many other accounts. The body is not a given, according to Foucault (1978; cf. Gatens 1992). It has been noted in one study that the way pots were held and carried was at least as important for signalling facets of identity as the shape or decoration of the vessels in question (Sterner 1989, 454).
The body has therefore been widely discussed in disciplines other than archaeology. Bryan Turner (1996, 24-7; see also Featherstone et al. 1991; Falk 1994) has summarised three approaches. The first is the concept of the body as a set of social practices. Bourdieu belongs to this, with a background in the notion of potentiality first explored by Mauss, namely that the body is a ‘physiological potentiality which is realized socially and collectively through a variety of shared body practices within which the individual is trained, disciplined and socialized’ (B.S. Turner 1996, 25). Turner also assigns Garfinkel to this group. The second approach has seen the body as a system of signs, and carrier of social meaning and symbolism. This can best be seen in the work of Mary Douglas (1966; 1996). ‘The social body constrains the way the physical body is read’ (Douglas 1996, 69). The central hypothesis is that the body reflects the form of the society to which it belongs; the more closed the social situation, the more formal the expression and behaviour of the body. Particular situations can be read by reference to the relationship between group or bounded social unit, and grid or rules and classifications (Douglas 1996, 59-68; Fardon 1999, 110-16). Though the body here is put centre stage, it is curiously passive and reflective, and there appears little room for either individual diversity or deliberate divergence from prevailing norms or for change. The third strand (which may well overlap with the previous one) is that which has seen the body as a system of signs standing for and expressing relations of power (B.S. Turner 1996, 27). This is a trend presaged in the writing of Foucault, and exemplified in more recent work by many others including Butler (1993).
How then to approach with archaeological evidence what Crossley (1995) has called a ‘carnal sociology’ and B.S. Turner (1996, 27) a ‘fleshly discourse’? My approach and argument here are simple: that there is much to consider that has been neglected, that the potentiality of the body may have been realised in many different ways, that the body was rarely neutral, and that it may be possible to glimpse, or at least to begin to think about, generative schemes behind bodily action.
As a start, we can go back to growing up, learning and initiation, already discussed above. There is no doubt that from a demographic point of view children are under-represented in the mortuary record. On the other hand, they consistently appear in graves, cemeteries and an array of barrows and cairns. When were children thought to be fully socialised? I have argued that by the later fifth millennium BC on the Great Hungarian Plain, as seen in the graves at Tiszapolgar-Basatanya, at least some children, perhaps as young as five or six, were being treated in death ritual as future adults.Girls for example wore finger rings and sashes of beads in the style of much older women, and took with them to the grave sufficient pots to display the ability to provide food, drink and hospitality. It cannot be certain, however, that this reflects the actual status of children at this time, as opposed to the standing of the group or groups who used the Tiszapolgar-Basatanya burial ground over a number of generations. In many other cases, there is evidence to suggest that children were of ambiguous status. For example, there are instances of children being buried under house floors in the tells or settlement mounds of the earlier fifth millennium BC on the Great Hungarian Plain: in the case of Berettyoujfalu-Herpaly, especially at the corner of buildings, and in the company of the skulls of wild cattle (Kalicz and Raczky 1987). Adult graves, when they occur, come in small groups in spaces between or beyond contemporary houses. In the Linear Pottery culture of central and western Europe (referred to hereafter by its German abbreviation LBK) of the later sixth millennium BC, there are numerous instances of children’s graves in the spaces beside and between contemporary longhouses (Veit 1996; Siemoneit 1997). This is much rarer for adults (Veit 1996; Orschiedt 1998). Children are represented also in cemeteries, normally with very few or no grave goods (Jeunesse 1997). Adults are found in much greater numbers than children in the cemeteries. The graves of children among the longhouses are nearly always very simple affairs. It is misleadingly easy to see in this simplicity a lack of emotion (cf. Rosaldo 1993; Reddy 1997; Connor 1995). It is far more satisfactory to suppose that children were highly valued, but that because they were still learning, still full of potential, they were an appropriate symbol for regeneration and continuity into the future, a link between the stages of the cycle of longhouse growth and decay. In another context, of Britain in the fourth millennium BC, it has been suggested that stone extraction sources could have been in part a place of initiation (cf. Edmonds 1999, 45), and the involvement of children or young people is certainly supported by the very narrow galleries of many flint mines (Russell 2000).
A series of examples involving adults can perhaps take us closer to routines, as well as to sociality. Bourdieu was keen to emphasise the ‘gestures and movements of the body’ (1977, 94), and Mauss himself used the example of walking to illustrate his notion of potentiality (B.S. Turner 1996, 25). At the pre-Neolithic and early Neolithic Syrian site at Abu Hureyra, a mass of evidence for the bearing of loads, pounding and grinding was found by detailed examination of damage to the skeleton and of muscle attachments; grinding was here probably a mainly female activity (Molleson 1994). It is clear from recent re-examination of Early Neolithic human skeletons in southern Britain, of the fourth millennium BC, that there was potentially much variation in the manner in which people walked and moved about their business, and in ‘activity regimes’ in general.This is possible to detect because of variations in the effect which muscles, tendons and ligaments create at their point of connection to the skeleton. These are known technically as musculoskeletal stress markers. Though the data are relatively limited and their interpretation complex, nonetheless differences can be suggested both between sites and between males and females. At the West Kennet long barrow, for example, males may have used their right arms in rotary action, perhaps for throwing, far more vigorously and often than females, whose forearms were used together for a range of possible tasks; likewise the men seem to have used their legs for exercise such as running and jumping, or possibly longer-range travel, to a much greater extent than the women. By contrast, there are some signs that whereas the men from two south Welsh sites, Parc le Breos Cwm and Tinkinswood, were as active as their counterparts at West Kennet, the women there were not as active over the same range of activities as their counterparts.
We can only guess at how these variations might have shown themselves in the way in which people moved. There is some evidence to suggest that hunter-gatherer males may range further over a lifetime than females (MacDonald and Hewlett 1999), but both in Late Mesolithic Brittany (Schulting and Richards 2001) and in the LBK of the Rhineland (Price et al. 2001) there is new isotopic evidence to suggest the in-marriage of females.1 I have already referred to J.F. Weiner’s discussion (1988; 1991) of the importance of a sense of flow and movement among the Foi of Papua New Guinea, and a sense of movement and direction may also be visible in the strongly repetitive orientations of both LBK longhouses and long cairns and barrows in western Europe, especially Britain. Both have been ascribed to other factors, the placing of longhouses as a response to prevailing winter wind direction or the direction of the coast (Coudart 1998), and the placing of cairns and barrows as an orientation on the moon (Burl 1987). Other interpretations of the orientation of longhouses ascribe this to a gradually fossilising tradition (Mattheusser 1991) or to a sense of ancestral origins (Bradley 2001). In both cases, it is hard not to imagine landscapes in which people moved around, to varying extents, and the link I am seeking to establish is between kinds and degrees of movement carried out in daily routines and a wider sense of the importance of movement and direction in the wider cultural context.
The resting and talking body must also have been important. The evidence is unfortunately much thinner here. Negatively, there is virtually no evidence of furniture across our area, and even in the unusually preserved stone houses of northern Scotland, what do survive are mainly ‘dressers’ and ‘beds’, classically at Skara Brae, Orkney (Parker Pearson and Richards 1994). There are only a few possible individual seats in the form of very low single stones by the central hearth. This lack also extends to the wooden houses of the Alpine foreland. Presumably, therefore, for much of the time people squatted on the ground or on floors. There may be some osteological evidence for this, in the form of facets from wear on hip, knee, ankle and foot joints, though none of these is unambiguous (Larsen 1997, 185; Theya Molleson, pers. comm.). A notched kneecap at Abu Hureyra has been attributed to squatting at rest (Molleson 1994), and at the Early Neolithic site of Qatalhoyuk in Anatolia the bone evidence suggests that men habitually squatted, heels together on the ground, while women adopted a variety of positions, presumably reflecting a variety of activities undertaken (Theya Molleson, pers. comm.). In Britain observations of facets on the distal anterior tibia (i.e. ankle) have often been associated with habitual squatting, but it is not possible from the samples currently available to suggest clear gender- or age-related differences (Michael Wysocki, pers. comm.). A few of the burials from the Danube Gorges were buried in a sitting position, legs splayed a la turque, and it has been suggested that this might have been a position appropriate to old men watching the river and its ancestral creatures (Boric 1999, 60-1). Among the Foi again, Weiner has noted important differences in the public body postures of men and women (1991, 156). Men tend to stand up, with chest and upper torso open, using their arms to emphasise and give rhythm to singing and oratory. Women normally sit, with the central body closed up; their singing is performed sitting. In this context at least, ‘women’s positions emphasize stasis, compactness, motionless-ness; men’s postures emphasize a dynamic, charged motion, an openness and potential for vigorous, rhythmic movement’ (J.F. Weiner 1991, 156). Could this ever be reflected in body positions seen in graves?
In the Foi context, public communication often takes the form of ritualised singing, oratory and other kinds of performance. There is also plenty of talk, including between neighbouring houses, as already noted. The force of the institution of the men’s house on Vanatinai Island off New Guinea has also been described by Lepowsky (1990, 178-9), but this is also a setting in which the opinions of women and young people are regularly voiced in public debate. Talking together presumably filled much of people’s time; given that there was a spectrum of time and energy budgets across the varied subsistence regimes of Neolithic Europe, a diversity better documented in Australia and New Guinea among both hunter-gatherers and shifting cultivators (Lourandos 1980, 248), there was plenty of time to fill. The nature of talk may have varied. Basso (1984, 33-4) has referred to three kinds of speech among the Western Apache: ordinary talk, prayer, and narratives or stories, the latter of which can again be subdivided into myths, historical tales, sagas and gossip, as well as Coyote stories and seduction tales. In turn these categories can be distinguished by their temporal and spatial anchoring, and by their field of concern: myths to enlighten, historical tales to criticise and to warn, and so on. ‘In acts of speech, mundane and otherwise, Apaches negotiate images and understandings of the land which are accepted as credible accounts of what it actually is, why it is significant, and how it impinges on the daily lives of men and women. . . . With words, a massive physical presence is fashioned into a meaningful human universe’ (Basso 1984, 22). This might seem as far as we can get with talking, and it is not even clear whether at this date different groups could have understood each other (cf. Renfrew 2000). But we will come back to various possible kinds of talk and speech subsequently.
Another central routine is eating. It is obvious that the consumption of food is not neutral (Douglas 1996; Gosden and Hather 1999). Food is clearly not just a matter of satisfying the needs of the body. The way in which resources are looked after and brought to the point of consumption is a social matter. Food itself may be consumed in very different ways, either very privately among the immediate group, as among the Dobu in the western Pacific (Bloch and Parry 1982, 28), or very publicly in different sorts of feasts (Hayden 1995). In the communal longhouses of north-west Amazonia, food preparation is privately done within constituent families, but eating is public and collective. Sharing is vital for the maintenance of group unity and meals are taken in communal central space within the longhouse (S. Hugh-Jones 1995, 231). Food can be a valuable used in exchange. It may also be bound up closely with notions of the essence of what it was to be a person. Among the Hua of Papua New Guinea, the central vital essence is nu, normally thought of as liquids, from water and blood to fat, and conceived as the source of life, vitality and fertility (Meigs 1984, 115—24). For the Hua, food and nu are conceptually interchangeable, with close associations and resemblances between nu substances, such as blood, faeces or secretions, and certain foods. Foods are seen as being permeated with the nu substances of their producers, and food is a mechanism of nu transfer between people, important for effecting changes in physical status, from growth and health to ageing and sexuality (Meigs 1984, 122—3).
Again, this might seem as far as we can take the issue of eating. This would be a sad reflection on the worth of all the reports on hearths, animal bones, plant remains, clay containers, and other relevant remains. One hypothesis worth exploring, however, is that for this period and area there was a basic contrast between private commensality and public feasting. The basic mode of consumption may well have been in small groups, such as households. For all the gross patterning in dominant subsistence staples at the scale of regions or traditional archaeological cultures (thus sheep and goats numerically dominant in the Koros culture of the Great Hungarian Plain, cattle in the LBK, and so on), there may have been much variation at local level. This may be beginning to show in isotopic and dental studies of the Early Neolithic in Britain. Thus recent stable isotopic studies of human bone from a variety of assemblages in southern Britain suggest a range of diets, from emphasis on meat in some cases to a more mixed diet in others; there is so far little sign of predominantly plant-based subsistence (Richards and Hedges 1999; Richards 2000). In one limited study of human teeth from mortuary assemblages from long cairns (and therefore possibly a not very representative sample) around the Black Mountains in south-east Wales, it was found that there was considerable variation in a small area.Rates of caries, enamel hypoplasia, tooth loss, crowding and eruption all seem to have varied. Though the sample is small, these variations can tentatively be connected with variations in subsistence, diet and food processing.The people deposited in the various long cairns seem to have made different use of carbohydrates and meat, and to have been subject to varying nutritional deficiencies and physiological stresses. By contrast, in southern Britain as a whole at this date in the fourth millennium BC, there is a greater unity in the general dominance of cattle in animal bone assemblages, seen most clearly in those from ditched enclosures (Oswald et al. 2001).At that site, few individual deposits consist entirely of cattle bones, and more normally other species are also represented, to varying extents.
This requires further attention to the nature of cattle.They are comparatively slow growing, but reach considerable size. There is growing evidence from recent lipid analysis of pottery for the consumption of milk, and the cattle may have been exploited as often for their milk (and perhaps blood) as for their meat. When they were slaughtered, adult animals could have yielded comfortably in excess of 200 kg of meat, fat and offal.We know virtually nothing about the size of herds, but the holding of individual households might have been quite modest (Bogucki 1993), and slaughter might not have been lightly undertaken. What to do with all that meat? The amount available is too great, unless there were effective techniques of smoking, salting or other curing to allow storage. Cattle might therefore have been kept, among other reasons, as a means of participation in public consumption, as a bond either between separate households within villages, from the slightly dispersed longhouse concentrations to the more tightly nucleated smaller buildings of the Alpine foreland, or between the probably more scattered communities of southern Britain in the fourth millennium BC. It may be no accident from this perspective, that some of the cattle and deer meat in the non-enclosure consumption event at the Coneybury Anomaly, Wiltshire, was probably taken away for use elsewhere (Maltby 1990). This was an old practice, judging by its occurrence also in Late Mesolithic contexts (Figure 2.1) (Prummel et al. 2002).
Then as now, much of life was presumably spent asleep. We know very little of the conditions in which people slept in the Neolithic. Ethnography again suggests its possible importance. Men and women frequently sleep in different houses, at least at some times of the year, as among the Foi (J.F. Weiner 1988; 1991) and intermittently among the Hua after initiation (Meigs 1990, 106). In lowland northwest Amazonia, where people sleep within longhouses can define their identity: residents at the back, and visitors, including long-term ones, at the front (S. Hugh- Jones 1995, 229-30).
Figure 2.1 Composite diagram of the butchery patterns of aurochs found at the Late Mesolithic site of Jardinga, Netherlands; unless otherwise annotated, remains from one animal are indicated.
At dance-feasts, visitors spend the first night camped outside the longhouse, to emphasise their status as outsiders (S. Hugh-Jones 1995, 233). The Neolithic record is tantalisingly shorn of specific evidence for beds or sleeping places, apart from the stone side-boxes of Skara Brae and other Orkney house sites already noted above. It has been suggested that sleep in general was an important metaphor in Early Neolithic Orkney, the dead placed in cairns being regarded as merely sleeping (A. Jones 1999). If this is so, the communality of sleep might be suggested by the collective deposits of the dead. However, this is obviously not universal, since elsewhere single graves are common. In the graves of the LBK, there is a wide variety of body positions (e.g. Jeunesse 1997), from fully extended to more tightly crouched. Generally speaking, differentiated rules for the placing of the body, when they do appear, are a later phenomenon, for example in the Early Copper Age on the Great Hungarian Plain as seen in the left- and right-side positions for men and women (Derevenski 2000), and it might be possible to view this in the light of Mary Douglas’s observations about the relationship between form of society and control of the body (1996, 76). Could LBK body positions in death (Figure 2.2) also in some way reflect the manner in which people slept in longhouses and elsewhere, perhaps expressing with their bodies an openness and lack of personal conformity, rather than closure and tight control? For the Kabyle of north Africa, the year can be divided into wet and dry seasons, and Bourdieu (1977, 159-60) has written vividly about how the wet season draws the village together, bringing even the men, ‘whose imperative duty is to be outside’, back to the communal house, in a phase of self-reflection and withdrawal; there, the presence of men inhibits the normal movements of the women.
Figure 2.2 Body positions in LBK graves, a possible indication of sleeping poses. Clockwise from top left: Nitra 34; Stuttgart-Muhlhausen 67; Sondershausen 19; Sondershausen 15. After Orschiedt 1998.
The greatest possible contrast is created by the return of noise, bustle and vitality in the dry season, and the return of normal patterns of bodily movement through the space of the village. In the winter conditions of continental Europe from the sixth to the third millennia BC, it is hard not to suppose that warmth and close proximity were highly desirable, and sleeping together in longhouses and the smaller houses of the Alpine foreland might have been part of a similar routine contrast between winter and summer.
Discussing much earlier hominid development, Clive Gamble has referred to the possible importance of a ‘release from proximity’ (1999, 67). In the light of the discussion above of possible sleeping arrangements, proximity is likely to have remained significant long after. Among the Foi, sex takes places in the bush, furtively (J.F. Weiner 1991, 151), which is probably mirrored in many other instances (e.g. Lepowsky 1990, 191-2); the subject of sex, and sexual differences between men and women, may be the focus, however, of repeated conversation and joking (Gow 1991, 123). Bodily difference is one source of sexual attraction between Lese farmer men and Efe forager women in central Africa (Grinker 1994, 80-1). Views of conception also vary, from the uncomplicated matter-of-factness of the Jivaroan Achuar (Taylor 1996, 205) to the notion of the Foi that women must accumulate male fat or semen along with their own fluids in sufficient quantities from repeated intercourse (J.F. Weiner 1988, 50). Female sexuality may be feared, and even seen as a cause of death (Bloch and Parry 1982, 18). Among the Foi, ‘morally approved sex turns a contaminating substance, menstrual blood, into new life, while sorcery conserves and enhances its debilitating properties’ (J.F. Weiner 1988, 53). It seems almost impossible to find relevant evidence in the archaeological record for such moral and conceptual codes, let alone sexual behaviours. It has been suggested that some of the people, of varying ages and of both sexes, deposited after violent treatment into Danish bogs in the Early Neolithic could have transgressed moral codes (Bennike 1999, 29), but there is no specific reason to suppose sexual transgression. Much of the mortuary record revolves around a sense of gendered difference, which is enhanced through time, but this does not in itself reveal more than a recurrent sense of order, played out in the complementarities and oppositions of both single graves and collective deposits. The best example I can suggest for consideration is that of the Fussell’s Lodge long barrow in southern England (Ashbee 1966). This is a collective deposit, with male and female, older and younger all represented (Figure 2.3). What makes this deposit unusual is its linear spatial separation. As in other instances (see Thomas 1988), there is some kind of opposition, or at least difference, being expressed between adult and younger people, and females are grouped with men in the terminal deposit of adults. The two proximal deposits, however, are of two sets of two females, bone groups C and D, arranged to appear to be two individuals; the females in C were of the same age, while one in D was older and the other younger (Brothwell and Blake in Ashbee 1966, 53; Michael Wysocki, pers. comm.). These proximal human deposits are in turn fronted by an ox skull.
Figure 2.3 Layout and composition of the mortuary deposit under the Fussell’s Lodge long barrow, southern England.
One way to read this would be as a representation of order, balance, transformation and growth. The outer ‘single’ deposits are connected with the possession of cattle, and the bringing together of the remains of two pairs of women. This union, in conjunction with the presence of cattle, led on to the appearance of plentiful children and juveniles, in bone group B (and also scattered between groups B and A, and in group A), which in turn is transformed into balanced and ordered adult society, as represented in bone groups A1 and A2.
Two other features of daily routine requiring movement are the provision of water and what Mary Douglas calls ‘the casting-off of waste products’ (1996, 76). Water was perhaps nearly always available in sufficient quantities for the needs of people from streams, rivers, lakes and the rain, though thirsty animals like cattle may often have needed to be taken daily to a more abundant source of supply. In a few cases recently, wells have been found in LBK settlements, seemingly in locations further away from regular water, such as Erkelenz-Kuckhoven in the Rheinland, where the wells were repaired on more than one occasion (J. Weiner 1998). In one of the recently discovered LBK wells at Zwenkau, near Leipzig, there is a finely decorated stick (Stauble and Campen 1998; Campen and Stauble 1999, fig. 10). This might of course be a deliberate deposit (or from the phase of decay or even destruction: J. Weiner 1998), but it is also legitimate to think of this as the result of a rather more casual encounter, perhaps the result of showing off or teasing among young men or women or both (Figure 2.4). Bark vessels in the Erkelenz and Zwenkau wells could have met the same fate.
Douglas (1996, 76) has commented that ‘defecation, urination, vomiting and their products, uniformly carry a pejorative sign for formal discourse’, but routine bodily functions have been neglected in both the anthropological and the archaeological literature. Reference is scattered and rather anecdotal. Concern for hygiene is probably one reason for periodic shifts of settlement (e.g. Politis 1996). Necessary trips to the surrounding bush or woodland have been noted as an opportunity for intrigue and adultery and a cause of suspicion and jealousy (Bloch and Parry 1982, 28), just as trips to water and the well might have been too.
Figure 2.4 Decorated stick and birch-bark vessel.
Where and how people defecate are an actively noted difference, one of a whole series of important bodily contrasts which include also colour, hair and smell, between the farmer Lese and the forager Efe; the Lese use outhouses, while the Efe use anywhere in the forest (Grinker 1994, 79—81). Conditions in the Alpine foreland have occasionally allowed the preservation of coprolites within settlements.2 The majority of coprolites seem to be those of dogs, though pigs may also have acted as cleaners-up (Sene 1996, 748), which could suggest that people did indeed normally make trips to the woods, but in niveau VIII of the east French Jura site of Chalain (dated to 3190—3170 BC) 50 out of 182 recovered coprolites were identified as human (Sene 1996, 749). These show a surprisingly wide range of food sources, from meat to fruits, nuts, seeds and more rarely cereals. In niveau VI, dated to 3100 BC, only 7 out of 117 coprolites were identified as human, all found in one small area. Further study of parasite eggs in the Chalain human coprolites raises again the question of hygiene and disease. Eggs of various species were found both in the coprolites and organic-rich deposits of Chalain 4, dated to between 3100 and 3000 BC, including those of Diphyllobothrium, which can be transmitted through eating fish (Bouchet et al. 1995; 1997).
Water supply, defecation and infestation all raise the issue of sickness and disease. How healthy were the people with whom we are concerned? On the one hand, the Alpine foreland villages regularly lasted a decade or more before being remodelled or temporarily abandoned. On the other hand, there is scattered evidence for infestation and other problems. A single fingernail detached from the body of the Ice Man suggests three episodes of intense stress in the last months of life, perhaps related to a disease (Capasso 1995; cf. Botenschlager and Oggl 2000), and he is said to have had unusually low levels of body fat (Spindler 1996). Parasites have been found in coprolites from the Early Neolithic coastal estuarine site S3 at Swifterbant in the Dutch polders, though it is not certain whether these are human or animal copro-lites (De Roever-Bonnet et al. 1979). Reviewing the remains of people deposited in watery places in the Early Neolithic of Denmark, Bennike (1999) has noted evidence for a range of disabling diseases and congenital abnormalities. These include fused vertebrae, secondary osteoarthritis perhaps caused by tuberculosis of the joints, and malformation of the arm, in one case probably congenital. While there are examples of violent deaths among this assemblage, including the young woman from Sigersdal with a string or cord tight around her neck, there is no sign that the diseased or deformed were subject to violent treatment.
This leads on to consideration of the way in which illness or sickness may have been regarded. The Danish evidence suggests that people with physical disabilities were tolerated or cared for, but what about those who were sick? An equation between sickness and death has been found in several societies. In Amazonia, the two are not sharply distinguished (Taylor 1996, 203). The Jivaroan Achuar of Ecuador see illness and death as the result of deliberate bewitchment, and as part of the same process of suffering, though they also regard mortality from a mythic perspective as the outcome of a minor act of transgression. Among the Bajo Urubamba of Peruvian Amazonia, sickness and death are processes involving the fragmentation of the person (Gow 1991, 188). At a conceptual level, the life of people depends on the death of the forest, while forest life is the death of people, illness coming from the ‘revenge of forest animals and plants, or the active sorcery of forest demons’ (Gow 1991, 191). Illness is seen as having various causes, from the revenge of natural beings, the proximity of demons, shamanic projection of objects of sorcery into the body, to serious epidemics ‘sent by God’. The sick retreat from contact with others, feeling loss of physical strength and being regarded as rotten or over-ripe by the shamen who diagnose illness (Gow 1991, 180-1). Among the Daribi of Papua New Guinea, sickness is associated with possession of the soul, resulting from encounters with spirits, ghosts or sorcery, met in the bush and elsewhere (Wagner 1967, 44-5). Once again, it is hard to unite these observations with the archaeological record; they may, after all, be simply a list of exotic differences found elsewhere and at other times. But they raise important issues. The conditions of existence suggest that sickness could have been common in the Neolithic, and mortality among the young was high. How were the sick routinely regarded? Had the Ice Man in a sense been cast out because of illness?
The last aspect of an archaeology of the body to be considered at this stage is the prevalence of wounds. Inter-personal violence has come to greater attention recently, partly through a number of striking new cases, such as Talheim, Herxheim and Asparn in the LBK (e.g. Wahl and Konig 1987; Hausser 1998; Teschler-Nicola 1996), or Esztergalyhorvati in the Lengyel culture of western Hungary (Makkay 2000), and subsequent reconsideration of older finds (Gronenborn 1999; Carman and Harding 1999). It has been tempting to suppose that inter-personal violence both increased and intensified through time, leading eventually to the more aggressive, male-oriented world of the agrios (Hodder 1990; 2000). I suggest that inter-personal violence was endemic and widespread, and probably of very varied causes. It may occasionally have flared, in some regions, into periods of more sustained violence, as may be suggested by the emphasis on enclosure and fortification and the series of attacks involving burnings and sporadic killings, seen at Hambledon Hill, Dorset (Mercer 1999). This may be suggested too by the group killing in at least the case of Talheim in the LBK; in the other instances, it is not yet clear whether remains were dumped after slaughter, or ritually deposited (cf. Orschiedt 1998). Elsewhere, the evidence is widespread but scattered, seemingly more to do with wounds to individuals, from the Late Mesolithic of the Danube Gorges and the Erteb0lle culture, to the Early Neolithic in Ireland and the Netherlands (Cooney 2000, 87; Louwe Kooijmans 1993), and Denmark as already noted (Bennike 1999). There are large assemblages of human bone in southern Britain among which there are few wounds (though of course not all wounds would have left marks on bones), suggesting the occasional shooting with arrows and from time to time clubbing to the head; parry fractures on the arms seem to be uncommon (Michael Wysocki and Rick Schulting, pers. comm.). There is, however, a case for seeing an increase in unhealed wounds in Early Neolithic contexts in Denmark (Schulting 1998).
Rather than suppose a state of perpetual warfare, I envisage a situation far more piecemeal. Clearly people did resort at times to shocking violence on groups of victims, but the evidence mainly suggests a recurrent but low level of inter-personal violence. The contexts of violence seem extremely varied in the ethnographic record, from duels carried out within the group, as reported among the Yanomamo (Chagnon 1968), to small-scale, inter-group raids among the Daribi as a response to the effects of sorcery (Wagner 1967, 51). In one study, of the former forager Paliyans of southern India, violence was not found to increase with the beginnings of sedentary existence, in large part because attitudes of respect for the individual and ways of safeguarding against violence were maintained through the period of change in style of residence (P.M. Gardner 2000). While warfare can be an effect of increasing social distance, among the Manambu of Papua New Guinea it was thought of ‘as necessarily predicated on the prior existence of social ties between the opponents, and as remaining always embedded and encompassed within these ties’ (Harrison 1995, 81).3 Most Neolithic wounds are from arrows or axes (two kinds were inferred at Talheim from the nature of the blows). Bow and axe may have been largely male weapons, and both the acquisition of an axe, and the use of weapons if need be, perhaps when honour had been insulted,4 may have been a recurrent validation of male identity. The male body and the female body may have been put to the test in different routines.