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European Bronze Age Cultures and technical evolution: a Phylogenetic Approach


"European Bronze Age cultures (2200-800 BC) and archaeological material are generally studied in terms of finished artefacts. In contrast, the proposed research is centred on observing the physical modalities by which the raw material is transformed into a finished object: the chaîne opératoire. Technical behaviours represent a link with the body and mind, and are a consequence of the socio-cultural environment in which the individual developed. They are the result of a transfer of technical tradition from one generation to another, but are impossible to model with current tools because of the complex link between their evolution and the processes of invention.
Using contemporary cultures, one insular (Deverel-Rimbury, UK) and the other continental (Duffaits Culture, France), the aim of this project is to understand and model the origin and evolution of the techno-diversity seen in Middle Bronze Age. Are these two cultures founded on learning and applying a transmitted technical tradition that evolved from a single source and then diversified (phylogenesis) or did it derive from multiple sources that then recombined in various way (ethnogenesis) ? Do we see a link between the nature of evolution and the geographical position of territory (insular vs continental) ? Does a « common ancestor » exist between insular and continental traditions ?
Phylogenetic trees and networks are based on the principle of descent with modification and represent the best way to illustrate the ancestor-descendant relationships; they allow us to perceive the familial ties between technical traditons over time, to identify their common ancestor, and the endogenous or exogenous nature of the evolutionary processes. On the basis of the chaîne opératoire concept and a phylogeographic approach, together with a 3D geographical distribution model of the lineage, this multidisciplinary project aims to establish a new paradigm for Bronze Age and a new methodology for the anthropology of technology"

Call for proposal

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EU contribution
€ 200 049,60

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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Greta Borg-Carbott (Ms.)
Total cost
No data