Session: #547

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Down by the River - Evidence of Material Culture for Prehistoric Waterborne Communication along European Rivers, Lakes and Coastal Waters
Mobility is a basic requirement for the exchange not only of material goods, but also of knowledge and ideas and thus of great importance for the socio-economic, cultural and socio-political systems already in prehistoric time. Cultural constraints, behavioral interactions and social norms might have regulated mobility and communication. Technology and ergology can express the identity of a group and provide insights into contacts and communication between different prehistoric societies.
It should be agreed that in the Early and Middle Holocene the communication and transport routes were largely based on the intra-European water network and coastlines. The humans’ adaptive and innovative ability to respond to environmental changes with technical innovations has led to the development of well-organized mobility strategies and the invention of new boatbuilding technologies. However, it is still unclear in what form an exchange of goods, ideas and individuals took place and which vessels were available. In northern Europe, paddles have been proven as a means of propulsion for the Preboreal, but boats have only been found for the late Boreal. It is therefore still being discussed whether, instead of dugouts, boats made from soft material were already being used, whose archaeological evidence is much more difficult.
This session aims to deepen current knowledge within the framework of local, supra-regional, and diachronic development and application of waterborne transport and communication as well as other linked activities. In locations where direct evidence is insufficient, various kinds of indirect evidence are employed. Therefore, apart from the studies utilising archaeological sources, we would also like to encourage researchers contributing with studies applying analogous data, from the viewpoint of, e.g., ethnography, anthropology, and ethnohistory to help build the frames of reference and further our understanding about waterborne transport and communication as a phenomenon and its dynamics in the long term.
Waterborne communication, Early seafaring, Early boatbuilding, Technological change
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Main organiser:
Harald Luebke (Germany) 1
Ronald Bockius (Germany) 2
Miran Erič (Slovenia) 3
1. ZBSA - Centre for Baltic and Scandinavian Archaeology
2. RGZM - Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Archäologie
3. ZVKDS - Institute for the protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia