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From Hunting to Herding? Aspects of the Social and Animal Landscape during the Southern Scandinavian Neolithic

Hinz, Martin

In accordance with current perceptions, the Neolithic landscape of Southern Scandinavia appears to be dominated by two innovations that are connected to the transition to the Neolithic in this region: agriculture and monuments such as megalithic tombs or Single Grave burial mounds. So it seems natural to assume that these aspects also dominated the contemporaneous perception and the organisation of space. Most prominently, the monuments have a very important role in the landscape archaeology of the Funnel Beaker period particularly because they form a landscape of monuments. But from a pragmatic perspective, it is more likely for the perception of the landscape as a taskscape (sensu Ingold 1993) that the everyday practises and routines of the inhabitants as well as the movements that evoke such practises were much more salient than the monuments. Given the agricultural nature of the economy, it would be consequent to assume that the most important constraints on spatial planning and settlement locations would arise from this economy, resulting in an agrarian landscape. On the basis of a case study from the region of Stormarn-Lauenburg and the evidence of the number of identified specimens (NISP) of animals from a range of Funnel Beaker sites, this paper intends to demonstrate that it might not have been the monuments nor the agrarian subsistence economy but rather practises founded in the Mesolithic tradition that dominated the settlement system of Funnel Beaker societies. As an alternative, a scenario should be presented in which the access to larger animals, hunted or domesticated, as a currency in a social exchange, had a more significant influence on the choice of the settlement site than the purely economic optimisation of agricultural production processes.

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