Humans occupy a material environment that is constantly changing. Yet in the twentieth century archaeologists studying British prehistory have overlooked this fact in their search for past systems of order and pattern. Artefacts and monuments were treated as inert materials which were the outcomes of social ideas and processes. As a result materials were variously characterized as stable entities such as artefact categories, styles or symbols in an attempt to comprehend them. In this book Jones argues that, on the contrary, materials are vital, mutable, and creative, and archaeologists need to attend to the changing character of materials if they are to understand how past people and materials intersected to produce prehistoric societies. Rather than considering materials and societies as given, he argues that we need to understand how these entities are performed.
Jones analyses the various aspects of materials, including their scale, colour, fragmentation, and assembly, in a wide-ranging discussion that covers the pottery, metalwork, rock art, passage tombs, barrows, causewayed enclosures, and settlements of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain and Ireland.
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