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Alsónyék story: towards the history of a persistent place

Bánffy, Eszter, Osztás, Anett, Oross, Krisztián, Zalai-Gaál, István, Marton, Tibor, Nyerges, Éva Ágnes, Köhler, Kitti, Bayliss, Alexandra, Hamilton, Derek and Whittle, Alasdair 2017. Alsónyék story: towards the history of a persistent place. The Bericht der Roemisch-Germanische Kommission. 94 , pp. 283-318. 10.11588/berrgk.1938.0.37156

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Abstract

Drawing on the papers in this volume that precede it, our discussion brings all the chapters of the long story of Alsónyék into a single narrative, discussing in more interpretive terms notions of persistent place, community, aggregation and coalescence, with an eye on different scales of analysis and the broader tempo of change. We look especially at the remarkably long persistence of Alsónyék, the intensity of its occupation and the trajectory of population increase and decline at the site. We begin by comparing general conditions of early village emergence with the specific evidence for the development of settlement and population in Transdanubia and beyond in central Europe, before summarising date estimates for the successive periods of occupation at Alsónyék itself, from Starčevo through LBK and Sopot to the Lengyel. We emphasise the long continuity of occupation except for the gap between Starčevo and LBK, the probable overlap between LBK and Sopot, and the acceleration of growth in the Lengyel period. The exceptional persistence of place seen at Alsónyék is examined in further detail, with comparison to elsewhere leading on to discussion of the sense of place and community that may have been experienced through the Alsónyék sequence. Characterisation of the Lengyel occupation as not only a major aggregation but also a coalescent community is explored; the causes of such developments elsewhere, as seen in the historical and ethnographic record, are noted, including periods of social instability and inter-community violence. The extraordinary intensity of activity at Alsónyék is further modelled in various ways to provide estimates of population and numbers of buildings in use through the Lengyel sequence. The peak of intense activity was probably only maintained for a generation or two around 4700 cal BC, and the decline of the Lengyel site was perhaps only slightly slower than its rise (covering two or three generations in the latter part of the 47th century cal BC). Activity did not reduce to its pre-Lengyel levels, however, but persisted for several more centuries at perhaps two or three times the intensity of any pre-Lengyel occupation. A search for the causes of the Alsónyék aggregation - and of its decline - remains challenging, though answers may eventually be found in the further study of the regional settlement complex or the detailed history of disease. No extensive signs of violence have so far been recorded. We further discuss possible constituents of the coalescence represented at Alsónyék, noting the frequent houses and possible households and neighbourhoods, and looking beyond these to the idea of wards, clans and moieties. Possible clues to internal differences within the site are noted for future research, and it is only with further work that the full Alsónyék story can be told.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Publisher: Verlag Philipp von Zabern GmbH
ISSN: 0341-9312
Funders: ERC-funded Advanced Investigator Grant project
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 June 2016
Last Modified: 10 May 2019 01:59
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/91267

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