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Modelling Households : Economy and Sociology of Europe's first farmer populations – HOMES

HOMES

Modelling households: economy & sociology of Europe’s first farmer populations.

An anthropological approach to Lbk societies

As part of the Household Archaeology research dynamics, the HOMES project aims to model the economic, anthropological and ideological organization of the first Neolithic agro-pastoral societies in continental Europe. Different theories have been put forward on the structuring of habitats and the social system of the Lbk culture (6th millennium BC), adopting in turn a migrationist, demographic, economic, idealistic or social point of view. The Homes project proposes an integrative and systemic modeling at very high anthropological and spatial resolution, of the different rules of economic and social integration at the basis of the exceptional durability and adaptability of the LBK culture, by approaching the notion of household in its material, ideal, individual and collective dimensions. From a workshop area (the Aisne valley), the Homes project aims to define: (1) the evolution of the economic maturity and the production capacity of autonomous households from a food point of view, (2) the interdependence between households structured around networks of reciprocity and redistribution, particularly in terms of handicrafts, (3) the integration of individuals from outside the village community, ensuring cultural cohesion on a supra-regional scale. By confronting the new scenarios highlighted with the hypotheses already proposed in other regions of Lbk Europe, the Homes project will question the reproducibility of the Lbk social system, both in time and space. It will attempt to understand whether the social structure of the Paris Basin's Lbk is fully in keeping with a tradition, or even a certain social conservatism, inherited from Central Europe, or whether it rather reflects an innovative dynamic on the periphery of a declining colonization movement.

The HOMES project aims at a statistical and spatial modeling of the rules of interactions that govern Lbk societies. This analysis is based on a solid corpus of 9 sites in the Aisne valley, bringing together nearly 90 houses and 85 burials spread over 80 km along the Aisne valley in the Seine basin. Occupied over about 200 years (5100-4900 BC), these sites provide a high resolution chronological and anthropological analysis. By combining archaeological analyses (archaeozoology, technology and use-wear of lithic and ceramic productions), archaeometric approaches (petrography, tomography, chemical analyses on ceramics and tools) and bioarchaeological (stable isotopes of human grains and bones) on targeted sampling, the HOMES project has the means to produce hypotheses based on a resolutely multidisciplinary framework. The systemic and integrative approach of the project is structured in 4 workshops, including three thematic workshops and a final workshop on geostatistical modeling : Workshop 1-Organization and levels of integration of craft skills, Workshop 2-Food production and consumption, Workshop 3-Status, life and death of individuals, Workshop 4-Spatial and statistical modeling of household interactions, based on statistical and geomatic analysis (database, WebGis, spatial statistics). This modeling will allow to test different hypotheses on the functioning of Lbk societies previously discussed at the European scale.

The first results by workshop highlight notable differences between the houses and the villages, in terms of technical ceramic traditions, identification of workshops or craftsmen for the production of tools and activities practiced (harvesting, hunting, handicraft production). The differences in the composition of the fauna of each house previously suggested are confirmed. Differentiated access to exploited mineral resources is also noted, which directly questions the insertion of the houses in the supply networks.
Conversely, the preliminary results concerning agricultural systems (strong amendment) and the plants consumed (legumes and tubers), the content of vases (lipids) and the isotopic indicators of human food (homogeneity of the signal) suggest that certain shared practices were strongly structuring in terms of Lbk societies, beyond our only window of study.
Further work will focus on understanding whether these differences can be interpreted in terms of chronological (evolutionary) or geographical (boundary) trends. Beyond this, the Homes project will attempt to determine which models of social interaction are valid and effective in interpreting the differences observed in the economic practices of Lbk societies.

The HOMES project opens up important perspectives for understanding the rules of economic and social cooperation that govern relations between the different groups that make up the Lbk village communities. As such, the project aims to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the strong stability and adaptability of Lbk societies throughout Europe over nearly a millennium. By confronting the new scenarios highlighted with hypotheses already proposed in other regions of Lbk Europe, the Homes project will question the reproducibility of its social system, both in time and space. It will attempt to understand whether the social structure of the Paris Basin's Lbk is fully in keeping with a tradition or even a certain social conservatism inherited from Central Europe, or whether it rather reflects an innovative dynamic on the periphery of a declining colonization movement.
Ultimately, the project will discuss the existence of one or more Lbk models, with notable differences in the structuring of sites emerging between the first sites in Central Europe and the last Lbk sites established on our western margins. We will explore the compatibility of our anthropological hypotheses with the models proposed so far and with other work in progress on Central and Eastern European sites. Our work will also allow us to initiate a reflection on the social innovations specific to post-ribbon societies from 4900 BC onwards.

As of 15/07/2020, 1 published article and 2 papers submitted internationally, 6 papers in international colloquia and 2 in national colloquia.

In line with current research into Household archaeology, the HOMES project aims to explore the economic, anthropological and ideal organisation of early Neolithic farmer societies in Europe. The flagrant reproducibility of settlement forms of the Linear Pottery Culture (LBK, 6th millennium BC), which spread across 3000 kms of continental Europe, has provided some of the most outstanding archaeological evidence available for the Neolithic. Over the last 50 years, this large dataset has been a source of intense debate amongst archaeologists working on this period. Different theories have been put forward to explain the structure of settlements and how this might help understand the social system of these first farming populations. Depending on the viewpoint, a wide variety of factors have been underlined, ranging from migration, demography and economy to society and ideology.
In this context, the originality of the HOMES project lies in its ambition to model, in systemic manner and at high spatial resolution, the various rules of social and economic integration underlying the exceptional durability and adaptability of the LBK. By addressing the notion of household in its material, ideal, individual and collective dimensions in a deliberately limited study zone (the Aisne valley), the project will test the latest hypotheses centred on different levels of village integration (Hachem & Hamon 2014; Gomart et al. 2015). It will attempt to define: (1) the development of economic maturity and production capacity of households that are autonomous in terms of food supply, (2) the interdependence between households structured around reciprocity networks and redistribution, notably of craft items, (3) the integration of people from outside the village community, ensuring cultural cohesion at supra-regional scale.
By combining high-resolution and reliable archaeological analyses (archaeozoology, technological and use-wear analysis of ceramic and lithic productions) with state-of-the-art approaches in archaeometry (petrography, tomography, chemical analyses) and bioarchaeology (stable isotopes on grains and human bones) on a targeted sample, the HOMES project has the means to produce hypotheses of wide significance, in a resolutely pluridisciplinary framework. The project will be organised around four workshops, three devoted to specific research themes and one to geostatistic modeling : Workshop 1 Organisation and levels of integration of craft know-how, Workshop 2 Food production and consumption, Workshop 3 Status, life and death of individuals, Workshop 4 Statistical and spatial modelling of household interactions.
By confronting the new scenarios it develops with hypotheses previously suggested for other regions of LBK Europe, the HOMES project will explore the reproducibility of the LBK social system in both time and space, and will attempt to understand whether LBK social structure in the Paris basin follows a tradition or even a conservatism inherited from central Europe, or rather reflects innovation on the periphery of a colonisation process that was losing momentum.
By offering a dynamic, integrative and high resolution angle on the social processes at play in the mechanisms of neolithisation, the Homes project will considerably renew our understanding of LBK societies and ultimately offer insights into the social rules and networks at this time in Neolithic Europe.

Project coordinator

Madame Caroline Hamon (Trajectoires)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

LAMPEA Laboratoire méditerranéen de préhistoire Europe-Afrique
GEGENAA - URCA GROUPE D'ÉTUDE SUR LES GÉOMATÉRIAUX ET ENVIRONNEMENTS NATURELS, ANTHROPIQUES ET ARCHEOLOGIQUES - URCA
Trajectoires

Help of the ANR 337,089 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2019 - 48 Months

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