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Frans_Jozef
Tuesday, June 21st, 2005, 05:23 PM
The longhouse as a central element in Bronze Age daily life

H. Fokkens



(...) the goals of this paper. I will try to look ‘behind’ our data. We have used our archaeological data to build as clear as possible an image of farming life, house building and burial practice in the Bronze Age. But a lot of questions remain: often, the more data you have, the more questions arise. Questions like: why did people keep their cattle inside the house? Why wasn’t everyone buried underneath a barrow? Why were Bronze Age longhouses so large? Why did people deposit objects in marshes and rivers? Et cetera. These are questions that cannot be ‘read’ directly from the data, but ask for other approaches. The things I will be looking for are fundamental aspects of Bronze Age daily life. Can we detect – by looking at the evidence of course – more about important things like how the farmstead was perceived, the organisation of the small communities in which people lived, or even discuss values like home and family, martiality and the role of ancestors? If we could get some grip on these things, we would come very near to formulating ideas about the cosmology of Bronze Age societies in our region, the Netherlands and surrounding areas.
We
would be able to speculate about the balance between factors that are crucial in any small-scale society: the balance between people, ancestors and the supernatural, and about the ways to maintain that balance. These values and beliefs are - at least in the framework of this article - the things I am looking for. Three broad categories of data are at our service: settlements, burials and hoards. All three of them are closely interrelated, but in this article I will limit myself to just two of them: settlements and burials. I base myself predominantly on Dutch data, both from the north / east and middle / south, although I realise that both areas are part of two different culture areas: the Nordic world in the north and the Atlantic world in the south.