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The Evolution of Neolithic and Bronze Age Landscapes: from Danubian Longhouses to the Stone Rows of Dartmoor and Northern Scotland
Author: Alex Carnes. ix+165 pages; illustrated throughout in black and white. 103 2014. Available both in printed and e-versions. Printed ISBN 9781784910006. Epublication ISBN 9781784910013.
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At the heart of this book is a comparative study of the stone rows of Dartmoor and northern Scotland, a rare, putatively Bronze Age megalithic typology that has mystified archaeologists for over a century. It is argued that these are ‘symbols’ of Neolithic long mounds, a circumstance that accounts for the interregional similarities; other aspects of their semantic structures are also analysed using rigorous semiotic theory. The research presented here takes an evolutionary approach, drawing on biological theory to explain the active role of these monuments in social evolution and to investigate the processes at work in the development of prehistoric landscapes. New theory is developed for analysing such archaeological sequences, and for understanding and explaining material culture more generally. The local sequences are contextualised by examining European megalithic origins, tracing the long mound concept back to the LBK longhouses. It is argued that all of these related forms — longhouses, long mounds, and stone rows — are implicated in a process of competitively asserting ancestral affinities, which explains the constraint on cultural variation, and thus the formation of remarkably stable monument traditions, that led to the convergence between Dartmoor and northern Scotland in the Early Bronze Age.

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