A1 Theories of Transformation in Prehistoric and Archaic Societies


Academic Staff:

Project description

The key task of theory project A1 lies in a theoretical conceptualization of the complex archaeological and palaeo-environmental factors influencing transformation processes of prehistoric and archaic societies. Environmental, cultural and social theories will be used to develop middle range theories together with the other projects and disciplines of the CRC. hier weiterlesen 


The key general research questions of A1 are:

  • Why and how do societies transform and change?
  • What concepts/phenomena have been used in the literature and/or are relevant in analysing transformations and change of prehistoric and archaic societies?
  • How do we identify these concepts/phenomenon in the archaeological record (middle range theory)? How do we employ these concepts/phenomena in modelling in A2(link folgt)?

Questions pertaining to the above identified theoretical horizons are:

Focus environment: Does the social differentiation of societies correspond to their vulnerability or resistance to environmental changes? And vice versa: Is there any observable relationship between the complexity of a society and the range of their interventions into their environment? What are the respective roles of cultural ideas about nature, animals and cosmos as compared to the human relationship to nature seen as an expression of social relations of power, social cohesion and economy?

Focus social structures and economies: How has the relationship between society, demography and economy been described? To what extent are demography and economic strategies dependent on environmental conditions and change, and what influence do they have on environment? How do resources (which can be affected by environmental change) condition the form, material, and aesthetics of material culture? How is the reconstruction of social relationships bound to economies, social institutions, and demographic developments during transformative processes?

Focus culture: What role is played by material culture in the constitution (and transformation) of social orders, and vice versa? What forms of media representations appear within changing societies? Is it possible to describe the agency potential of material culture with respect to their position within transformation processes? How can changes of cultural fields and transformations of social hierarchy interfere? Can there be an interference between cultural concepts of aesthetics, religion, the notion of difference (gender, ethnicity), and environmental change?

In consequence, the development of middle range theories is the basic goal of this theoretical project of the CRC. The project will engage in methodological elaboration, development as well as critique of theories and theoretical concepts used within this CRC.

In such a sense, expected results are linked to theoretical conceptualizations in the CRC projects, and in the first phase particularly to the development of systematic aspects of social and environmental transformations.