Big-Men and Small Chiefs: The Creation of Bronze Age Societies

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This paper investigates to what extent the significant material changes observable at the end of the Neolithic reflect transformations of the underlying social dynamics. Answering this question will help us to understand the formation of Bronze Age societies. The analysis concerns southern Scandinavia with a certain focus on Denmark. The assumption is that the creation of Bronze Age societies must be understood as a long formative process that partly originated in the culturally-heterogeneous Middle Neolithic. Four
aspects seem to have been essential to this process: the rise of the warrior figure, the reintroduction of metal, increased agricultural production, and the establishment of one of the characteristic features of
the Bronze Age, the chieftain hall. These aspects do not appear simultaneously but are introduced step-by-step starting out in the late Middle Neolithic and early Late Neolithic to fully develop around 2000 BC. Consequently, this paper argues that the final Late Neolithic (LN II, c. 1950–1700 BC) was de facto part of the Earliest Bronze Age.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOpen Archaeology
Pages (from-to)361-375
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Event22nd Annual Meeting of the EAA - Vilnius, Lithuania
Duration: 31 Aug 20164 Sep 2016


Conference22nd Annual Meeting of the EAA

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Humanities - Late Neolithic, Bronze Age, social transformation, Denmark, warrior, metal, agriculture, halls, Middle Neolithic

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