2. Theoretical Framework

Before analysing prehistoric cultural landscapes, it is essential to reference the anthropological data for the social organisations and ecological dynamics involved in hunter-gatherer landscape enculturation. Much of the anthropological literature emphasises the significance of territoriality to the social interactions involved in the production, consumption, and maintenance of cultural landscapes (cf. Ackerman and Ackerman 1973; Cashdan 1983; Dyson-Hudson and Smith 1978; Grøn 2005; Jordan 2003; Riches 1982). Hunter-gatherer territoriality varies widely throughout the world, yet it is dependent on the relationships between resource density and predictability, population density, kinship networks, and other unique historical and social contexts (cf. Cashdan 1983; Dyson-Hudson and Smith 1978; Ikeya 2006; Kim 2006). Rosenberg (1990, 408) has defined territoriality as a network of social ties that makes other groups aware of the exploitation rights of a given group, which in turn establishes movements throughout the landscape. Active boundary maintenance does not necessarily occur through aggressive defence measures, but through a reciprocal understanding of 'right to use' between different social groups inhabiting the same cultural landscape (cf. Grøn 2005; Jordan 2003). The adoption of territoriality does not just relate to the group adopting it, but to the entire social landscape and the way adoption of territoriality by one group will have significant social impacts on other groups (Kim 2006, 176). Territoriality serves as a social mediation strategy for the avoidance of resource competition and conflict both within and between populations (Ikeya 2006: Kim 2006).

An understanding of the relationship between territoriality and social interaction in hunter-gatherer societies depends on the application of fine-grained ethnoarchaeological data to specific prehistoric contexts provided by the archaeological record. This method has been described by Grøn (2005) as 'applied hunter-gatherer ethnoarchaeology'. Grøn has provided a key framework by applying recent ethnoarchaeological research on the Evenk reindeer hunters of Siberia to the archaeological record of the Late Glacial Hamburgian culture of north-central Europe. The strength of this holistic approach lies in the ability of the ethnoarchaeological record to highlight the 'ideological elements and small-group dynamics' which are so important to any analysis of prehistoric landscape use (Grøn 2005, 2). Grøn suggests the contribution of an 'applied hunter-gatherer ethnoarchaeology':

"One of the significant and immediate contributions to hunter-gatherer archaeology by ethnoarchaeology has been the awareness it provides about the character of such cultures and the spatio-temporal configurations and dynamics of their repetitive patterns - especially where they exceed the borders of our immediate imagination." (Grøn 2005, 5-6)

The most significant strength of this methodology stems from its ability to understand the different organisational processes (both economic and ideological) related to seasonal or annual movements within - and the maintenance of - hunter-gatherer cultural landscapes. The success of the method as an analytical tool depends on its basis in archaeological records comprised of appropriate structural referents in terms of social organisation, economy, and local environment. An 'applied hunter-gatherer ethnoarchaeology' begins from the close examination of local archaeological records and the acknowledged prehistoric contexts establishing them (social organisation, economy, local environment); moving at a later stage to the more diverse ethnographically known situations manifesting similar compositional elements (e.g. various seasonal activity loci) of hunter-gatherer landscapes. This approach enables the construction of suitable 'structural analogies', which shed a more humanised light on the archaeological record of land use and social interaction because they lie 'in the belief or expectation that societies share a certain structure regardless of their historical situation or spatial location' (van Gijn and Zvelebil 1997, 5). The following analysis comes from 'broad-spectrum' (cf. Louwe Kooijmans 1993) 'delayed-return' (cf. Woodburn 1988) hunter-fisher-gatherers inhabiting temperate and boreal forest biomes. Specific focus will be placed on the significance of resource procurement territoriality for inter-group social interaction during the annual round. The primary aim is a more thorough understanding of the social organisational complexities that might have conditioned forager and farmer contact at the Scheldt basin Mesolithic-Neolithic interface (5300-4000 BC). This analytical strategy seeks to strengthen the foundations from which neolithisation models are constructed for north-west Europe.


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Last updated: Wed Oct 3 2007