(Re)creating the world in everyday engagements: a material approach to elements and cosmologies during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition.

  • Ellen Mcinnes

Student thesis: Phd


AbstractThis thesis explores the development of material approaches in archaeology to discuss the relationship between material engagements in the world and cosmological schemes. In particular, the role of key materials in cosmologies is considered in light of ideas about elements and their fundamental role in the composition of the world. Three materials (wood, fire and water) are then considered in detail using anthropological illustrations to highlight the range of ways wood, fire and water are understood in traditional societies. Archaeological examples from the late Mesolithic and earliest Neolithic are examined in light of these ideas to suggest new possibilities for interpretations of the material remains discussed. These discussions of materials and cosmologies are set against a background of the debates surrounding the transition to the Neolithic. In particular, recent challenges to perceptions of the Mesolithic are considered to highlight the problematic discourses that have traditionally dominated studies of the period. It is amongst these critical reappraisals that this thesis contributes to emerging narratives of lives in the Mesolithic. The use of wood, fire and water is examined in contexts of the late Mesolithic and earliest Neolithic and is suggested to show much continuity in the practices that used wood, fire and water. Similar properties were actively called upon in these continued practices however, their deployment in new contexts and practices is suggested to indicate a shift in the importance of certain properties or characteristics. The implications of this in relation to cosmological schemes suggests aspects of continuity such as connections between materials and the landscape but accompanied by a stronger emphasis on certain relationships and processes within the world such as the transformation of bodies and articulation of community
Date of Award31 Dec 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester


  • Mesolithic-Neolithic
  • Materials
  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Trees

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