, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 239-298

Identity and Material Culture in the Later Prehistory of Central Europe

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Abstract

Examination of the archaeological evidence for the expression of identity in later European prehistory provides a new and promising approach to understanding change in this period. New views of the role of material culture in the communication of meanings, of the nature of identity, and of agency in the past provide a useful framework for approaching the evidence. Analysis of patterns of sameness and difference in style and decoration of manufactured objects indicates how people used their material culture to structure and to communicate their identities—on the level of the individual, of groups such as families and residential communities, and of larger entities commonly referred to as ethnic groups. This approach offers insights that complement social and economic models of change in later prehistory.