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Tradition and Agency: Human Body Representations in Later Prehistoric Europe

John Robb
World Archaeology
Vol. 40, No. 3, Tradition (Sep., 2008), pp. 332-353
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40388217
Page Count: 22
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Tradition and Agency: Human Body Representations in Later Prehistoric Europe
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Abstract

What is a tradition? This paper argues that the concept of tradition has to be regarded as more than either a shorthand for passively inherited cultural baggage or an actively invented ancient heritage. Through a discussion of Neolithic figurines and Copper and Bronze Age statue-stelae in the Central Mediterranean and Alps, I argue that in some cases archaeological traditions should be understood as having an emergent quality that makes them more than the sum of the individual creative acts generating them and gives them qualities of agency. The implications for a multi-scalar interpretation of the past are discussed.

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