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Rhythms of heathland living in the Nordic Bronze Age

Activity: Talk or presentation typesLecture and oral contribution

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Mark Haughton - Lecturer

Zachary Adam Caple - Lecturer

By the end of the Early Bronze Age, heathlands created and maintained by the grazing of livestock and regular controlled burning expanded to become a major feature of the Northern European landscape. This was particularly so in Western Jutland, Denmark, where heathlands continued to be the dominant landscape form until the nineteenth century. This inherently unstable landscape form entangled humans and other species in cyclical relations of pastoralism,
grazing and burning that mark out heathland living. While mobility is an established part of our understanding of the European Bronze Age, our focus is often drawn to long distance ‘heroic’ travel, rather than the annual rhythms of movement that pastoralism entailed for these communities.

This paper explores the temporalities of heathland living in the Danish Early Bronze Age, with a particular focus on how humans and other species co-created seasonality and rhythms of life that operated across multiple scales. By considering events on different timescales and their archaeological signatures alongside larger patterns of settlement and social organization, we open up our understanding of these communities and the different social dynamics which they brought about. These cyclical timescales were both seasonal – particularly those relating to the management of herd animals such as sheep – and something unique to this landscape – relating to the cycle of heathland plant species sprouting, maturing, burning and recovering. We can thus explore the critical difference in temporality between communities living in different parts of Denmark, the practices and rhythms of life to which they were exposed, and the forms of multispecies social organization that resulted.
1 Sep 2022

Event (Conference)

Title28th EAA Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleEAA 2022
LocationEötvös Loránd University
Degree of recognitionInternational event

ID: 290745088