Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant: Identifying Continuity & Change through Archaeological Soil Chemistry and Site Stratigraphy at Neolithic Settlements in Southeast Hungary.
Ezra B. Zubrow Principal Investigator
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Under the supervision of Dr. Ezra B.W. Zubrow, Roderick Salisbury will collect and analyze geochemical and stratigraphic data from small late Neolithic and Early Copper Age settlements in southeastern Hungary. The goal of this research is to identify how settlements were internally organized during the transition from the Late Neolithic to Early Copper Age, circa 4800-4500 BC. This period in southeast Europe is known for substantial change in settlement patterns, exchange networks and mortuary practices. The focus of most research to date has been on large settlement mounds. The function and characteristics of small Late Neolithic sites, and how they relate to the Late Neolithic regional settlement pattern, is not known. Salisbury's analysis will focus on this issue, providing data needed to resolve the missing intra-site characterization of small Late Neolithic flat sites.<br/><br/>This project attempts to understand the way that intra-site settlement organization reflects social and economic changes during the transition towards settlement dispersal. Site structure and the identification of task areas and features will be determined through multi-element geochemistry and stratigraphic columns. A practice theory approach provides a theoretical basis for linking variability in these activities with changes in social organization, because everyday practices will leave distinct material remains, and at the same time inform about the larger social structure. This is important if we are to understand how social and political changes like integration and resistance are reflected in settlement structure for small agro-pastoralist societies. Identifying patterns in the location of activities will lead to a better understanding of the ways in which people at small settlements, and not just for those living on prominent settlement mounds, lived during a period of social transformation. Results of this project will also raise new questions about the nature of archaeological deposits and how they relate to the way societies use and manipulate space.<br/><br/>The research will assess the viability of a practice model of society for intra-site analysis, and contribute both to greater understanding of regional culture history and to broader anthropological questions relating to settlement integration and dispersal. More broadly, the methods used in this project are relatively non-intrusive. Multi-element characterization of site sediments leaves sites intact and available for future research, and complements existing intensive surface survey and excavation data. Dissemination of this work in the form of a monograph, presentations, and journal submissions will increase understanding of the methods and concepts employed. A strong collaborative research infrastructure will foster increased awareness of methods, interpretations and opportunities between Hungarian and American archaeologists. Finally, public outreach in the form of newspaper interviews and school visits will enhance the level of public understanding of archaeology in Hungary.