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Europe’s Early Land Allotment: Questions of Time, Scale and Stewardship

Part of the Themes in Contemporary Archaeology book series (TCA)

Abstract

Early field systems, in some cases several millennia old, are tangible relicts of past large-scale processes of landscaping and land allotment in many regions across Europe. Yet our cultural landscapes, created in both the near and distant past, are disappearing fast and often irreversibly so, showing how the management and preservation of fieldscape heritage is a real and urgent issue for landscape conservation policy and practice. In this introductory chapter, we provide a conceptual framework for the study of later prehistoric land allotment in Europe, including a discussion of major methodological approaches, findings and future research priorities. We outline the main scope of this volume, followed by a series of summaries of the individual chapters and describe the cross-chapter themes and approaches. Moreover, we use this introductory chapter as an opportunity to critically evaluate the research field of prehistoric fieldscapes, its current state in European archaeology as well as its future challenges and perspectives.

Keywords

  • Land allotment
  • Land enclosure
  • Land-use change
  • Anthropocene
  • Fieldscape heritage
  • Agriculture
  • Pastoralism

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Fig. 1.1

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Acknowledgements

The idea for this book took shape following a 2015 EAA session with the title: “Cropland shaping: the spread, function and social implications of field systems across Europe during pre- and protohistory”. That session was initiated by Alessandro Vanzetti (Department of Ancient World Studies, University of Rome La Sapienza) who organised the session together with Stijn Arnoldussen (Groningen Institute for Archaeology, Groningen University), Mette Løvschal (Moesgaard Museum & Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, Aarhus University) and David McOmish (English Heritage). We would like to thank all organisers, participants and audience members of that lively session, where the seed for this book was sown, in particular Alessandro Vanzetti for his effort and enthusiasm. Since then, a broad collective of authors is to be thanked for their patience and understanding in the long process of peer-review and pre-press revisions. Finally, the EAA Themes editorial board (Kristian Kristiansen, Eszter Bánffy, Peter Attema and Claes Uhnér) and Springer (Neelofar Yasmeen and Christi Lue) deserve our severe gratitude for coaching us towards the publication. Løvschal has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 853356) and Independent Research Fund Denmark (DFF–4180-00245).

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Løvschal, M., Arnoldussen, S., Johnston, R. (2021). Europe’s Early Land Allotment: Questions of Time, Scale and Stewardship. In: Arnoldussen, S., Johnston, R., Løvschal, M. (eds) Europe's Early Fieldscapes . Themes in Contemporary Archaeology. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-71652-3_1

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