The fifth millennium is characterized by far-flung contacts and a veritable flood of innovations. While its beginning is still strongly reminiscent of a broadly Linearbandkeramik way of life, at its end we find new, inter-regionally valid forms of symbolism, representation and ritual behaviour, changes in the settlement system, in architecture and in routine life. Yet, these inter-regional tendencies are paired with a profusion of increasingly small-scale archaeological cultures, many of them defined through pottery only. This tension between large-scale interaction and more local developments remains ill understood, largely because inter-regional comparisons are lacking.
Contributors in this volume provide up-to-date regional overviews of the main developments in the fifth millennium and discuss, amongst others, in how far ceramically-defined ‘cultures’ can be seen as spatially coherent social groups with their own way of life and worldview, and how processes of innovation can be understood.
Case studies range from the Neolithisation of the Netherlands, hunter-gatherer – farmer fusions in the Polish Lowlands, to the Italian Neolithic. Amongst others, they cover the circulation of stone disc-rings in western Europe, the formation of post-LBK societies in central Europe and the reliability of pottery as an indicator for social transformations.
List of contributors
The fifth millennium: the emergence of cultural diversity in central European prehistory
Daniela Hofmann and Ralf Gleser
Part 1: Diverse populations
On the periphery and at a crossroads: a Neolithic creole society on the Lower Vistula in the fifth millennium BC
The Brześć Kujawski culture. The north-easternmost Early Chalcolithic communities in Europe
Lech Czerniak and Joanna Pyzel
Taboo? The process of Neolithisation in the Dutch wetlands re-examined (5000–3400 cal BC)
Part 2: Interaction and change
The fifth millennium BC in central Europe. Minor changes, structural continuity: a period of cultural stability
Early Middle Neolithic pottery decoration — different cultural groups or just one supraregional style of its time?
The oldest box-shaped wooden well from Saxony-Anhalt and the Stichbandkeramik culture in central Germany
A vessel with zoomorphic depiction from the Epi-Rössen horizon at Oberbergen am Kaiserstuhl: an evolutionary perspective on an unusual artefact
Part 3: Community, interaction and boundaries
Strategies of boundary making between northern and southern Italy in the late sixth and early fifth millennium BC
The transition from the sixth to the fifth millennium BC in the southern Wetterau — pottery as expression of contacts, boundaries and innovation
On the relationship of the Michelsberg culture and Epirössen groups in south-west Germany in the light of absolute chronology, aspects of culture definition, and spatial data
Schiepzig enclosures: gaps in the archaeological record at the end of the fifth millennium BC in northern central Germany?
Johannes Müller, Kay Schmütz and Christoph Rinne
The jadeitite-omphacitite and nephrite axeheads in Europe: the case of the Czech Republic
Antonín Přichystal, Josef Jan Kovář, Martin Kuča and Kateřina Fridrichová
Disc-rings of Alpine rock in western Europe: typology, chronology, distribution and social significance
Pierre Pétrequin, Serge Cassen, Michel Errera, Yvan Pailler, Frédéric Prodéo, Anne-Marie Pétrequin and Alison Sheridan
Ralf Gleser holds the chair of Pre- and Protohistory at Münster University. One of his main research interests is the cultural development of central and south-east Europe in the Neolithic and Copper Age, with a particular focus on identities and material culture, early metallurgy, culture areas and cultural boundaries in the fifth and fourth millennia BC.
Daniela Hofmann is Associate Professor at the University of Bergen, but has previously worked in Germany and the UK. She teaches and researches chiefly on the Neolithic of central Europe. Her main areas of interest are the application of scientific methods to narratives of prehistoric life, notably concerning migration and mobility, as well as the role of material culture and social practices (burial, structured deposition, figurines, architecture) in bringing about or resisting change.