Keywords: Domestication and ancient DNA; Neolithic and Chalcolithic; Food producing societies; Complex societies
Combining modern technical and methodological procedures with solid grounded theoretical approaches, the group aims to study, characterize, and interpret the socio-historical and anthropological dynamics of Complex Societies. Research will take place both in Iberia and Africa. Particular attention will be addressed to the emergence and development of domestication in a narrow sense (of animal and plants), but also in a broader one, relating to the “domestication” of space through architecture and landscape building, or through funerary practices and human mobility studies. These general goals will be achieved by developing several, but integrated, approaches, as follow:
1. Technological and cultural research of material culture, including ethnoarchaeological research, aiming to understand technical and economic developments and resource exploitation strategies, in relation with the symbolic, cultural and ideological dimensions that material culture also presents;
2. A socio-zooarchaeological approach, aiming to characterize the human-animal relationship both in its practical and economic bases (food and raw material resources; domestication, taming and breading), but also in its symbolic terms (ontology of humans and animals; the use of animals in highly symbolic contexts);
3. Paleoecological studies, to document plant domestication and characterization of the dynamics of human interference in the landscape (particular focus on pollen and charcoal analysis);
4. The development of the landscape and space organization through an architectonic perspective, namely of the building of meaningful landscapes in socio-economic and ideological terms;
5. Research of funerary practices in a broader anthropological perspective, as means to characterize social organization and ontological perceptions of the Human in non-industrialized societies;
6. The symbolic expression, through art, of the world views.
The group emphasizes the need for a holistic perspective in studies of the Complex Societies way of life. It aims to overcome some divisions on the discipline itself that lead to research programs of empirical nature that, based on different empirical data produced a fragmentation of approaches and goals that generated difficulties to a global discourse on the post hunter-gatherer societies. If fragmentation is a natural consequence of specialization and of the need to go deeper in specific issues, re-combination of approaches is a requisite for a coherent and integrated perspective of the period.
A particular attention will be given to the relations between the research output and its social-economic value. If display for general public will be an assumed objective, we aim to develop lines of interaction with creative and cultural industries along with tourism, providing knowledge and creating platforms of cooperation with agents that operate in specific socio-economic areas. Therefore, the produced knowledge will also be regarded as an economic product, a resource that can be used in the context of regional socio-economic development.
Finally, particular collaborations will be developed with teams that are working in rescue archaeology, in order to scientifically enhance archaeological sites and data that are being worked in that specific context (an important one in today’s archaeology) and that could be relevant for the aims of this research group.