Saturday, May 6, 2017

Enclosures of the Mind (Turek, 2017)

This is a hugely interesting subject matter, and it might be helpful to read this first: Hofstede's social dimensions paradigm.  That may be a bit beyond this current topic, but it relates to the ability to quantitatively infer social habits and worldviews from material facts.

If we plugged Beakers into Hofstede's social dimensions, where would they land, and what material facts would we use?  This paper does that generally, looking at the landscape and seeing what that tells us about the mindset of its inhabitants.

Fig 2. (Michelsberg Beaker)
The ditched enclosures, Turek argues, are safe places that concentrate spiritual power and people power in one place.  In that way, they have a feminine element as opposed of the wild man.
"The domestic space defined by Ian Hodder [3] as Domusis representing the mild, peaceful, domesticated and feminine principle. Such inner peaceful area is usually divided from the wild, undomesticated, aggressive and masculine space that Hodder named Agrios."
Neolithic Europeans were in many ways foreign to an undeveloped and temperate Europe: its tough natives, dangerous animals and cold climate.  While they may not have had a 'siege mentality' they may have compartmentalized the spiritual world as they did the material world.
"The enclosures are, however, not only functional artefacts designed to divide human world, the also represent certain state of mind and ideology. Some Neolithic enclosures themselves represent „ditch religion“, that is a result of first farmers ideologies [4,5]."
and then that changed...

"But then, probably in 29th Century BC something changed in the ditch religion continuity and people abandoned enclosures and hill-top sites for more than thousand years."
"The Eneolithic society went through a number of deep changes in that period, leading to considerable individualization of social principles and thus also to a deeper differentiation of the society of the emerging Bronze Age.  The Neolithic collective idea of burials and monuments probably became definitely obsolete. The cause of such a collapse could have been the rapid deepening of social differentiation and the emergence of new elite...What also happened, however, was a paradigm shift in the use of land, building of settlements and handling waste."
"A new cult following the already existing sun worship appears to have prevailed. In their ritual communication with the spirits of the ancestors, now in the underworld, people focused especially on individualized burial ceremonies and their symbols - mainly to demonstrate and confirm the hierarchical social order and consolidate the genealogical system of inheritance of the social status of individuals and families"
Then he ends on a political note which doesn't seem to follow.  But I'm curious why he chose two graphics of the Michelsberg Culture (Maju?)  Does he know something not released yet?

J Turek. Enclosures in Human Mind. Glob J Arch & Anthropol. 2017; 1(2): 555559.  [Link]

Dividing the cultural space is an essential need of humans. The enclosed space if giving people feeling of security from the otherness and dividing the world into concepts of peaceful domus safe inside and wild agrios, dangerous outside. Enclosures were created to protect human communities, their properties and livestock but also to perform their cult. Walls and ditches were often acting as symbolic manifestations of unity and creating shared identity, such as when Rome was founded by Romulus ploughing the furrow outlining the future Eternal City. Walls and ditches were also created as fortifications and symbols of domination and/or segregation, such as the case of Limes Romanus or the Great Wall of China. Enclosures were, however, also defining the holy places, dividing the sacred from the profane and creating arenas of spiritual and social communication, such as ditch monuments in Neolithic Europe. Walls and ditches are dividing people even now. The Korean wall or the wall at the West Bank present the reflection of the current human behavior.


  1. Enjoyed this! Thank you!

  2. I think he's alluding that something which is insular and closed will ultimately fail ?

    The contrast between enclosures and the corded ware period is apt, but he needs to work migration into his work . At the moment it reads solely like "internal ideological change".

    1. Yeah, I don't think I'd make a value judgement on defining spaces. "Good fences make good neighbors" is one way to look at it. OTOH, I suppose it could be argued that the openess of subsequent groups made distant trade relations more likely

  3. After having read the article, I have to say - meh.... Coming from a science background, we called this sort of thing 'making stuff up.' I know it's difficult when you're working with crumbled pieces of potters and post-holes, but I could make an opposite and equally plausible argument for everything he said. Within enclosures is a 'feminine' space? Maybe, and maybe not. I'm not against informed speculation, but I can't see any difference between Turek here and Gimbutas' goofy goddess-world.

    1. Gimbutas Europe was also not that peaceful.

    2. Gimbutas Old Europe was peaceful, until the naughty penis-people came and spoiled everything. And how did she know? When asked, she said 'You have to use your intuition.' Well then....

  4. Southern Portugal where ditched enclosures start to appear around the dawn of the Bell Beaker period or perhaps a bit before then are not exactly temperate and cold. It is sub-tropical with mild winters. And, at that point, Neolithic people had been living there for more than a millennium. In light of that, I'm not sure that this "Just So Story" cuts it, although the distinction between masculine and feminine spaces in this context is mildly interesting.

    1. I believe the ditched enclosures go back at least to the middle neolithic, but a few got much larger right before the end of the Neolithic. (I think)
      OTOH, the walled enclosures in Portugal are almost definitely defensive or imposing and they appear right before the Beaker Age and fall mostly in disrepair around Beaker.

      I get the masculine and feminine spaces as indirect terms and clearly there is a bolder way of approaching the world in later times