Bronze Age – Overall Research Recommendations

Here are links to all the research recommendations for the Bronze Age, in one easy to find place

Theme 1 – Bronze Age studies and chronology

Research recommendations for this section comprise:

  1. Further work is required on intellectual history and the provenance of artefacts to provide the historical context to archaeological understanding for this period.
  2. Archival material, whether antiquarian, scientific (e.g. SEM) or previously sliced up artefacts, constitutes a valuable resource that would benefit from reanalysis.
  3. A specifically Scottish chronology that relates chronological data from many sources needs to be developed.
  4. The Scottish Chalcolithic requires better definition through further research.
  5. A textbook synthesis for the Scottish Bronze Age is required
Theme 2 – Interconnecting issues
  1. Research into what distinguishes a Bronze Age way of life, including similarities and contrasts with the Neolithic and Iron Age
  2. In order to build the richly evidenced over-arching narratives, robust data sets combining a range of information that is accessible are required
  3. Comparisons, links and contrasts between Scotland and other countries should be explored. These will vary over time. In the EBA parallels should be sought with  Ireland and England and in N. Germany and the Baltic in particular.  Ireland and England remain significant throughout (Ireland particularly in the MBA). In the LBA parallels may be sought along the Atlantic façade  and across the North Sea into N.Germany and the Baltic as well as in N France and Central and S Germany.
  4. How can Scottish metalwork be better dated?
  5. LBA‐EIA transition needs better understanding – drawing together and characterizing the evidence as a start
  6. More complete understanding of whole range of ‘ritual’ monuments – for example of new evidence (such as henge monuments) and understanding of stone rows ‐ integrated with burial, settlement and artefact evidence
  7. What happened at 1400 BC? Why doesn’t the metalwork reflect this major transition in the settlement evidence
Theme 3 – Lifeways and Lifestyles

Research recommendations include:

  1. The need for a comprehensive of overview of settlement forms and variety, dealing with both the wider context and regionality.
  2. The need to explore the relationship with flora and fauna and a summary/database of the Bronze Age evidence
  3. The need to explore how population was structured and other demographic questions (and the potential in DNA/isotope studies), including mobility (both short and long-distance communication), the nature of the ‘family’, and harness experimental archaeology systematically to inform on the breadth of daily practice.
  4. The need for quantification in order to do this – including populating the human remains database.
  5. The potential of burnt bone the need to articulate and emphasise its enormous potential (and therefore the importance of maintaining it).
  6. Establish the Bronze Age as a good period to explore the history of disease
  7. The Bronze Age a good period to study the effects of climate change on society (sites are often found in upland, peaty locations where good preservation of palaeoecological materials such as pollen, plant macrofossils, fungal spores, testate amoebae are to be expected)and there is a need to integrate palaeoenvironmental work in order to e.g.
    • Move beyond coincidence-matching
    • Understand expansion and abandonment
    • Visualise the environment
    • In order to do this evidence from a range of sources (environmental, skeletal, artefactual, chronological, architectural and site distribution) must be combined
  8. Explore the nature/structure of transport and movement
  9. Explore  the difference between a Bronze Age way of life and s a Neolithic or Iron Age one, including
    • Does a Bronze Age way of life lead to a decrease in biodiversity?
    • What was the system of land tenure/landuse?
  10. How is society reflected in the settlement record/land organisation? Can it be ‘read off’?
    • Were settlements permanently occupied?
    • How to investigate this?
    • How to build and challenge architectural/construction models – a role for experimental archaeology?
    • Were they ‘settlements’ or ‘houses’ as we have come to see them?
  11. A major study linking new work in palaeoclimatology and archaeology is of immediate importance and Scotland currently provides one of the strongest data sets for such work. Such a project must tackle issues of matching the chronologies and scale of the two sources of data and address whether climatic changes are uniform across Scotland as well as if the reactions (in natural and human systems) are also uniform. The relationship between natural changes and human behaviour requires further work to move beyond coincidence matching and explore possible causal connections (or whether other factors, such as political change, are creating an illusion of determinism).
 
Theme 4 – Material culture and the use of resources

Recommendations for future work would include:

  1. Further study of the social context of craft production, including how different materials relate (and within a landscape context), and exploring biographical approaches
  2. Development of innovative methods of prospecting, sourcing and compositional analysis, and combination of approaches including: experimental archaeology; the environmental context; metal detecting; aerial photographs
  3. Further study of the LBA-EIA transition through material culture
  4. Further work on how best to design and harness programmes of experimental archaeology
  5. Nuanced regional studies to address whether there are broadly Scotland-wide phenomena, or a series of overlapping regional Bronze Ages
  6. Improve chronological resolution for MBA and LBA ceramics
  7. Development of new techniques (including nano-techniques) in order to obtain enriched data-sets to provide the material to answer a range of questions regarding Bronze Age society
  8. Development of new approaches and new ways of using existing data
Theme 5 – Identity, society, belief systems

Research recommendations comprise:

  1. Exploration of the nature of Bronze Age identity, societal structure and organisation, belief systems, and how these vary over time. An awareness of the potential information that sites might reveal in terms of e.g. astronomy or belief, should be promoted.
  2. Exploration of the nature of Bronze Age identity, societal structure and organization, belief systems in a wider context of connections between Scandinavia and the Atlantic seaboards.
  3. Assessment and collation of the burial record across Scotland and across the whole of the Bronze Age.
  4. The potential of archaeoastronomy and the importance of the heavens in the past should be explored in the widest possible variety of prehistoric contexts – settlements, funerary sites, ceremonial sites cairnfields and field  layouts.
  5. Cosmological elements of landscape should be considered, with proactive approaches to identifying sites (e.g. metal-detecting at fords).
  6. Further work on regional traditions in preferences for depositional character and location.
  7. Metalwork sites should be related to cropmark evidence and their palaeo-environmental context investigated.
  8. Craft activities, especially metalworking, and artifact deposition, should be researched in a wider context of house and landscape architecture, considering their place in a cosmological understandings of the world

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