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Counter Culture: investigating Neolithic social diversity

Posted on 23 April 2018

New AHRC grant for department

We are pleased to report that Penny Bickle (PI), Ol Craig (Co-I) and Anita Radini (Senior Researcher) have been awarded an AHRC research grant for the project 'Counter Culture: investigating Neolithic social diversity' (2018-2020). The aim of this project is to reveal the forms and extent of social diversity among the earliest farmers of central Europe, in order to provide new avenues to investigate the history of social inequality.


The project will characterise social diversity across nearly a millennia in the Neolithic of central Europe, analysing how diet, mobility and health, as proxies for lifeways, varied in time and between different individual, cemeteries, settlements and cultural groups. It will then build on these data to ask what are the principal characteristics of Neolithic social diversity (age, sex, social group, or culture), and what was the history of Neolithic social inequality, does it increase, decrease or persist through time? Previous descriptions of Neolithic societies have relied on evidence from rich burials and ritual sites to model the form of the elite within society (e.g. 'Big Man' models). By focusing only on the elite these models produce a narrow, biased and binary picture of social standing in the past. In contrast, this project will employ bioarchaeological methods to assess lifeway diversity across the full range of social groups, rather than just those of the elite. At stake is whether diversity increases, decreases or persists from the early Neolithic to the middle Neolithic in the Rhineland.

You can read more about the project and its planned outcomes on the project website: and follow it's results on twitter @Neo_Inequality