I’m very excited to see that archaeologists recently got a whopping 1.5 million Euro for new work at Starr Carr, a site that I heard about in my first archaeology class, back in 1970. The great British archaeologist Grahame Clark exhumed a massive area of this iconic Mesolithic site back in the 1950s, work continued for a time in the 1980s and since the 00s.
For me this site has special significance, because from all of the evidence I infer that the people whose traces these are were, to all intents and purposes, the analogue of our own Northwest Coast archaeological cultures. And that, to me, means very complex social and material lives, probably stratified, probably chiefdoms. Permanent structures, large villages, and an abundance and variety of artifact types all go together to make Starr Carr a prime research locality–a stewpot of all the dynamics that I’m certain will help us, eventually, to understand the reality behind that profound about-face that is the transformation from egalitarian foragers to those whose cultural hallmarks are ownership of property, competitive social acitivities, social compartmentalization, and ultimately, socio-economic inequality. And all in immediately post-glacial Northern Europe.