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New publication of a chapter on Early Neolithic ritual

Posted on 26 March 2020

Penny Bickle compares striking or unusual examples of deposition with routine discard in "Magical, Mundane or Marginal"

Magical, Mundane or Marginal

Lecturer Penny Bickle has published a chapter on the way early Neolithic communities disposed of their rubbish, arguing that decay may have been closely monitored process. It appears in the volume "Magical, Mundane or Marginal? Depositional practices in the Early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik Culture" edited Daniela Hofmann.

This volume takes its starting point from the increasingly frequent discovery of deliberately placed deposits on Early Neolithic Linearbandkeramik sites. This includes the placement of complete and still usable tools in the ground, as well as the creation of complex abandonment layers for example in wells or the destruction of immense material wealth in enclosure ditches.

This is the kind of behaviour that archaeologists generally interpret as ritual (often using the label “structured deposition”), but it is surprisingly little discussed for the Linearbandkeramik. This volume thus addresses two main goals. First, it contributes a new approach to the study of Linearbandkeramik world view by focusing on depositional practices more generally and addressing the connections between them. How do the more striking or unusual examples of deposition articulate with routine discard, and what does this tell us about how Linearbandkeramik societies saw these objects and their use? Second, given the wealth of data available for the Linearbandkeramik, there is an opportunity to contribute to the ongoing discussion regarding the variety of depositional phenomena across the European Neolithic and their theoretical and methodological implications.

The book is published by Sidestone press, so you can read the article for free online at