考古 讲师 朱迪·刘易斯博士 而且 Dr David Mullin consider some of the unusual ways humans have understood 而且 interacted with the natural l而且scape. 

考古 provides a unique long-term perspective on what it means to be human 而且 it is one of few disciplines to combine the humanities, 自然科学和社会科学. One fascinating area that archaeologists study is how past people affected the world 而且 how, 反过来, 世界影响着他们.

In western society today, there is a tendency to see culture 而且 nature as separate.  This is partly a product of the intellectual movement known as The Enlightenment (or The Age of Reason). 这场运动强调理性, science 而且 logic as the best ways to underst而且 the world 而且 was a challenge to religious thinking 而且 superstitious beliefs.  Humans were separate from the natural world 而且 the natural world needed to be controlled by humans.

树皮像一张脸

Yet in many non-western societies, nature is not viewed as separate 而且 a force to be controlled. Humans 而且 the natural world are closely interwoven 而且 nature can also be seen to have its own power, power which is respected 而且 sometimes revered.  Elements of the natural world are viewed as having agency which may be likened to sentience.

Many archaeologists are now applying these important ideas to the past. 有一种意识,现代, western underst而且ings of the world are not universal 而且 that we need to explore the different ways past human societies thought about their world.

A stream runs through a wood with a bank of brown heather

One way we can get to this is by examining how natural l而且scape features were used. 有水的地方,比如河流, bogs 而且 springs 而且 impressive l而且marks such as mountains, 洞穴和灰岩坑, seem to have had great significance to past people, a significance that goes beyond the mundane.

新石器时代,新石器时代, 从公元前4000年到公元前2500年, is the time of the first farming in Britain. Neolithic farmers created a range of impressive ceremonial, funerary 而且 ritual monuments that show a strong sense of community 而且 a vibrant belief system, providing us with a glimpse of complex social worlds. 巨石阵, one of the greatest Neolithic monuments ever built, continues to perplex us today 而且 new scientific studies are providing us with fascinating insights into how 而且 why it was built.

阴天下的巨石阵

Yet we can also look beyond the monuments 而且 see that Neolithic people appear to have had a fascination with unusual features found in the natural environment. Sinkholes, for example, are natural shafts that are found widely across Britain. 在新石器时代, we find evidence that intrepid individuals or groups lowered themselves into some of these holes into the ground, 其中一些深度超过20米. We know this because they left behind them a range of deliberately deposited items, including exotic axeheads of distant European origin, 弗林特好工作, animal bones 而且 on occasion human remains. The lack of damage 而且 careful placement shows that these were not simply thrown in from the surface. Neolithic individuals descended into the dark, dangerous shafts, 而且 left behind them special things.

Some of these sinkholes appear to have opened for the first time during the Neolithic period which must have been a frightening 而且 unexpected event.  Today we underst而且 the geological processes that cause sinkholes to open but 6000 years ago this knowledge did not exist. These early farmers would have witnessed the l而且 opening around them 而且 interpreted it within their own frames of reference. Was there a belief that gods or deities resided in the underworld at the bottom of the shafts?  Should we view the intentional deposition of artefacts, animals 而且 bodies as offerings to appease an angry or dem而且ing higher power? 或者地球本身被视为有生命的, perhaps hungry 而且 requiring feeding or lonely 而且 craving company? Perhaps entering the shaft was an attempt to communicate with the earth 而且 the items that were left represent people’s attempts to give it what they thought it needed.

一个白色的石头

But the human interest in natural places didn’t stop at those below ground. At the other end of the l而且scape spectrum, people were using rock from particular mountains (in the Lake District, Wales 而且 other parts of Britain) to make into stone tools, 特别是axeheads. Axeheads made from these rocks have been found many miles from their source in areas such as Somerset 而且 Norfolk.  Early farmers might need these tools to clear away vegetation 而且 trees in order to gain l而且 to plant crops 而且 graze animals. But why select rock from distant 而且 hard-to-access mountains? Many archaeologists now think that the stone from which the axes were made was more important than the function of the axe as a tool. Were these high mountains viewed as the home of sky gods or were mountains perhaps seen as living entities? Having an axehead made from special stone may have been a way of transferring some of the magical or mystical power of these places into the human world.  

A recently discovered pot still covered in dirt from an archaeological dig.

The significance of the upl而且s continued well beyond the Neolithic 而且 into the subsequent Bronze Age. While metal axes appear to have replaced those of stone, rock from distinctive l而且scape features continued to be exploited. 而不是被做成工具, rock from these places was crushed 而且 added to the clay from which pots were made. Analysis suggests that these inclusions were not for practical purposes but instead were a way of incorporating pieces of important places into everyday items 而且 everyday lives.

新石器时代和青铜器时代, people’s relationship with the l而且scape was complex 而且 not always straightforward or practical. One of the challenges of archaeology is to try to untangle these relationships in an attempt to underst而且 how people made sense of the world around them. We should never assume their worldview was the same as ours.

朱迪·刘易斯博士 和大卫·穆林博士都在 考古 & 文物研究(荣誉)文学士 mg4355电子娱乐网址的课程. The themes discussed above are considered in modules including 新石器和青铜时代的英国 而且 死亡与埋葬的考古学.

All views expressed in this blog are the Academic’s own 而且 do not represent the views, policies or opinions of the mg4355电子娱乐网址 or any of its partners.