Splendid Isolation
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213 pages
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The year is 12,800 BP. Europe is entirely occupied by people of the so-called Upper Magdalenian culture. Well, not entirely ... one small region, southern Scandinavia, differs markedly from its neighbours. These lines open the first book-length treatment of the cultural evolution of late ice age forager societies at the northern edge of Europe. Splendid Isolation summarises more than ten years of research that connects the cataclysmic eruption of the Laacher See volcano in present-day western Germany with contemporary cultural changes. It also offers an in-depth treatment of the eruption's impact on plants, animals and people as well as its cultural-historical consequences. Invoking the term 'splendid isolation', the author argues that despite the eruption's evidently detrimental ecological impacts, it led to a regional cultural effervescence in the form of the Bromme culture. By charting this past calamity, the book also shows how the study of ancient disasters can be made useful in today's debates of resilience, vulnerability and apocalypse.

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Date de parution 01 août 2017
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9788771844993
Langue Danish
Poids de l'ouvrage 14 Mo

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Splendid Isolation
Aarhus University Press
Splendid
The year is 12,800 BP. Europe is entirely occupied by people
of the so-called Upper Magdalenian culture. Well, not entirely Isolation
… one small region, southern Scandinavia, difers markedly
from its neighbours. The eruption of
the Laacher See
These lines open the frst book-length treatment of the cultural volcano
evolution of late ice age forager societies at the northern
and southern
edge of Europe. Splendid Isolation summarises more than
Scandinavian ten years of research that connects the cataclysmic eruption
Late Glacial of the Laacher See volcano in present-day western Germany
with contemporary cultural changes. It also ofers an in-depth hunter-gatherers
treatment of the eruption’s impact on plants, animals and
people as well as its cultural-historical consequences. Invoking
the term ‘splendid isolation’, the author argues that despite
the eruption’s evidently detrimental ecological impacts, it led
to a regional cultural efervescence in the form of the Bromme
culture. By charting this past calamity, the book also shows
how the study of ancient disasters can be made useful in
today’s debates of resilience, vulnerability and apocalypse.
a
By Felix Riede
105195_cover_splendid isolation_r1.indd 1 14/06/17 08:32Splendid Isolation
The eruption of the Laacher See volcano and
southern Scandinavian Late Glacial hunter-gatherers
By Felix Riede
Aarhus University Press | a
105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 2 05-06-2017 12:58:39 105195_splendid-isolation_r1.indd 3 09/06/17 13:21Splendid Isolation
© The author and Aarhus University Press 2017
Cover: Jørgen Sparre
Cover illustration: Adaptation by Kristoffer Akselboe
of the original painting Moesgård Strand by Janus la Cour, 1890
Layout and typesetting by Anette Ryevad, www.ryevadgrafsk.dk
This book is typeset in ITC Legacy Serif Std
E-book production: Narayana Press, Denmark
ISBN 978 87 7184 499 3
Aarhus University Press
Finlandsgade 29
DK-8200 Aarhus N
Denmark
www.unipress.dk
INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTORS:
Gazelle Book Services Ltd.
White Cross Mills
Hightown, Lancaster, LA1 4XS
United Kingdom
www.gazellebookservices.co.uk
ISD
70 Enterprise Drive, Suite 2
Bristol, CT 06010
USA
www.isdistribution.com
Published with the fnancial support of the Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities
(grants number 11-106336 and 6107-00059B)
/ In accordance with requirements of the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the certification
means that a PhD level peer has made a written assessment justifying this book’s scientific quality.
105195_splendid-isolation_r1.indd 4 09/06/17 13:21Splendid Isolation Contents© The author and Aarhus University Press 2017
Cover: Jørgen Sparre
Cover illustration: Adaptation by Kristoffer Akselboe
of the original painting Moesgård Strand by Janus la Cour, 1890
Layout and typesetting by Anette Ryevad, www.ryevadgrafsk.dk
This book is typeset in ITC Legacy Serif Std and printed on 130g Luxo satin
Printed by Narayana Press, Denmark
Printed in Denmark 2017
ISBN 978 87 7124 127 3
Aarhus University Press
Finlandsgade 29
DK-8200 Aarhus N
Preface 7Denmark
www.unipress.dk
List of figures 9
INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTORS: List of tables 12
Gazelle Book Services Ltd.
List of formulae 14
White Cross Mills
Hightown, Lancaster, LA1 4XS
United Kingdom Chapter 1
www.gazellebookservices.co.uk
Splendid isolation 15
ISD Chapter 2
70 Enterprise Drive, Suite 2
Bristol, CT 06010 Vulnerability, events and cultural evolution 33
USA
www.isdistribution.com Chapter 3
Published with the fnancial support of the Danish Council for Independent Research | Humanities Explosive volcanism and the Laacher See eruption 49
(grants number 11-106336 and 6107-00059B)
Chapter 4
Before the eruption – the Federmessergruppen 79
Chapter 5
The progression of vulnerability and the impact of the Laacher See eruption 109
/ In accordance with requirements of the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the certification
means that a PhD level peer has made a written assessment justifying this book’s scientific quality. Chapter 6
After the eruption – the Bromme culture 133
Chapter 7
Natural hazards and traditional societies past and present 147

C O N T E N T S | 5
105195_splendid-isolation_r1.indd 4 09/06/17 13:21 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 5 05-06-2017 12:58:39References 159
Appendix I
An audited radiocarbon database for the culture-history of Allerød-period
southern Scandinavia and adjacent regions 202
Appendix II
Radiocarbon date auditing criteria 206
Index 209
105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 6 05-06-2017 12:58:39References 159
Appendix I
An audited radiocarbon database for the culture-history of Allerød-period
southern Scandinavia and adjacent regions 202
Preface
Appendix II
Radiocarbon date auditing criteria 206
Index 209
This book has been a long time in the making. I can clearly remember the rare day when –
sometime in the latter half of my doctoral research – the idea come to me that my data on the size and
shape of Late Glacial projectile points, the tephra fallout distribution of the Laacher See eruption
and the then still new models for the loss of technological complexity may be related in interesting
ways: The ‘Laacher See hypothesis’ was formulated. My Ph.D. research was about the period and
region in question, but it was thematically quite distinct. Yet, connecting these elements turned
out to be by far the most productive and controversial discovery generated from that research.
Since then, for the last ten years, I have been pursuing, evaluating, testing, rejecting, and ultimately
returning to this ‘Laacher See hypothesis’. The project to which this book originally was linked
has long since ended, but a new and bigger one is gathering pace just now. The Danish Council
for Independent Research, to whom I am greatly indebted, has generously provided fnancing for
both projects. In four years time we will know a great deal more about these curious Late Glacial
foraging societies, about the Laacher See eruption, and how we might be able to articulate it with
contemporary concerns of catastrophe and climate change.
Colleagues and friends too many to name have played a part in shaping this book throughout
the years. Nick Conard invited me to present in Tübingen and advised me to frame the notion
of impact as a hypothesis. You may not remember it, Nick, but that was a great idea. Erik Brinch
Petersen, Mikkel Sørensen and Kristoffer Buck Pedersen have been stimulating interlocutors;
always pointing the way towards where I need to turn my attention. Early on, Oli Bazely and Jeff
Wheeler willingly collaborated, and volcanologists Claire Horwell, Peter Baxter as well as Clive
Oppenheimer generously shared their expertise. Clive also welcomed me at the Department of
Geography back in Cambridge when I was on research leave. Ofer Bar-Yosef kindly sponsored my
prolonged stay at Harvard’s Department of Anthropology, where most of this book was written.
My colleagues at Aarhus University have been supportive throughout, and I sincerely cherish
the collegiate environment we have built up. At Aarhus University Press, Sanne Lind Hansen has
shown the necessary patience to nurse this project to completion.
Throughout researching for and writing this book, I have also been so fortunate to become father
to two lovely boys. So a substantive thanks goes, of course, to my wife Christina, to Alexander
and to Oskar for going along with my particular interests. Thanks to all.
Højbjerg, March 2017

P R E F A C E | 7
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 6 05-06-2017 12:58:39 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 7 05-06-2017 12:58:39Front page inset image: When Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and Turner painted his famous red
sunsets, they were strongly inspired by the unusual natural phenomena generated in the wake of the
eruption of Tambora volcano (Indonesia) in 1815. These works of material culture are examples
of the complex effects that far-away volcanic eruptions can have on people entirely unaware of
such causal connections. The inset is based on a landscape painting by Janus La Cour (1837-1909)
depicting Moesgård beach near Moesgård Manor, where the Aarhus University Department of
Archaeology and Heritage Studies is housed and where I have my offce. The painting is modifed
towards the red scale as if it was bathed in a volcanic sunset (Zerefos, et al. 2014), and brings the
far-feld effects of volcanic eruptions right home. This is what a distant volcanic eruption might
look from where I live. The inset image was constructed by Kristoffer Akselbo.
8 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N
 Contents
This page is protected by copyright and may not be redistributed.
105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 8 05-06-2017 12:58:39Front page inset image: When Shelley wrote Frankenstein, and Turner painted his famous red
sunsets, they were strongly inspired by the unusual natural phenomena generated in the wake of the
eruption of Tambora volcano (Indonesia) in 1815. These works of material culture are examples
of the complex effects that far-away volcanic eruptions can have on people entirely unaware of
such causal connections. The inset is based on a landscape painting by Janus La Cour (1837-1909) List of figures
depicting Moesgård beach near Moesgård Manor, where the Aarhus University Department of
Archaeology and Heritage Studies is housed and where I have my offce. The painting is modifed
towards the red scale as if it was bathed in a volcanic sunset (Zerefos, et al. 2014), and brings the
far-feld effects of volcanic eruptions right home. This is what a distant volcanic eruption might
look from where I live. The inset image was constructed by Kristoffer Akselbo.
Chapter 1 Chapter 2
Figure 1.1 The caldera relict of the Laacher See vol- Figure 2.1 Eyjafjallajökull erupting
cano today
Figure 2.2 The area around Eyjafjallajökull some
Figure 1.2 Schematic showing the contrasts between seven months after the eruption
the Federmessergruppen of the early
and middle part of the Allerød and the Figure 2.3 The global ‘aeromobile’ network of the
Bromme culture of the late Allerød/early present day
Younger Dryas
Figure 2.4 A material culture assortment assisting
Figure 1.3 The temporal dimensions of various dis- in coping with the proximal impact of
ciplines studying the impact of extreme the Eyjafjallajökull eruption
events on human societies
Figure 2.5 The relationship between adaptation,
Figure 1.4 The large tanged point found at Nørre adaptability and vulnerability
Lyngby
Figure 2.6 Examples of tephra shards
Figure 1.5 Cultural scheme for the Late Palaeolithic
and Mesolithic of northern Europe by
Clark (1950) Chapter 3
Figure 1.6 One example map showing the presumed
‘territory’ of the Bromme culture Figure 3.1 Schematic of the Earth’s core-to-mantle
layering and the different types of
volcaFigure 1.7 Another example map of the presumed nic systems
ranging grounds or ‘territory’ of the
Bromme culture Figure 3.2 The global distribution of volcanoes
Figure 1.8 Typological ‘Top Trumps’ Figure 3.3 A TAS (total alkali vs. silica) plot for
class ifying igneous rocks
Figure 1.9 The (A) number and (B) percentage
distribution of Late Glacial sites assigned to Figure 3.4 The Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)
the four different candidate
technocomplexes, divided into sites (white), surface Figure 3.5 Idealised relation between stratigraphic
fnds (grey) and others (black). Note the bedding features and eruption intensity
very strong predominance of inherently
problematic surface fnds in the Bromme Figure 3.6 Explosivity and repose between eruption
culture. for events of increasing VEI
8 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N L I S T O F F I G U R E S | 9
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 8 05-06-2017 12:58:39 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 9 05-06-2017 12:58:39Figure 3.7 Idealised relationship between distance Figure 4.5 Comparison of reconstructed mean July
from vent and median grain size compo- temperatures for four regions in
northsition of tephra fallout ern Europe throughout the Late Glacial
Figure 3.8 The human pulmonary system and the Figure 4.6 Fishing hooks from Federmesser contexts
reach of particulate matter of different
sizes Figure 4.7 First Nation Americans hunting elk
whilst swimming
Figure 3.9 Model relationship between volcanic
particulate matter/aerosol input and climate Figure 4.8 Spear-throwers and spear-thrower
fragimpact ments from the Late Magdalenian sites
Figure 3.10 Example of so-called mammatus clouds Figure 4.9 The launching sequence of a spear-
often seen in conjunction with volcanic thrower
eruptions
Figure 4.10 Landmarks for deriving ballistically
Figure 3.11 Volcanic lightning during the 2008 relevant dimensional values from lithic
Chaiten eruption projectile points
Figure 3.12 Block schematic of the topography Figure 4.11 Maximum width measurements for a
around the Laacher See caldera sample of northern European arch-back
and large tanged points
Figure 3.13 The near-vent deposits at the famous
Wingertsbergwand (left), and the ide- Figure 4.12 Examples of shaft-smoothers from
Federalised Mendig facies stratigraphic se- messergruppen contexts
quence
Figure 4.13 Accuracy of trained spear-throwers and
Figure 3.14 Example of a burned tree trunk preserved bowyers participating in a series of
comin Laacher See deposits petitions in the 1990
Figure 3.15 Bi-plots showing the geochemical dif- Figure 4.14 Point estimates of population densities
ferentiation of near-feld ejecta from the in relation to mammalian biodiversity for
Laacher See eruption on the basis of dif- 27 recent foragers and selected areas of
ferent elemental ratio Late Glacial Europe
Figure 3.16 A tri-plot of glass shard geochemistry Figure 4.15 The location of key Federmessergruppen
from several mid-feld locales on the sites connecting the Rhineland with the
main north-eastern fallout lobe central part of the North European Plain
Figure 3.17 The spatial distribution of occurrences of Figure 4.16 Characteristic northern
FedermesserLaacher See tephra across Europe gruppen artefact assemblage containing
arch-backed and large tanged points,
Wehlener and small scrapers
Chapter 4
Figure 4.17 On/off-site schematic for the
distribution of fnds and sites in the landscape
Figure 4.1 Form diversity within the category
‘Feder messer’ as perceived by
Schwabedissen
Chapter 5
Figure 4.2 The important stratigraphy at Rissen
north of Hamburg
Figure 5.1 The generic Pressure-and-Release Model
Figure 4.3 Lithic developmental scheme for the Late
Figure 5.2 The Access ModelGlacial in northern France
Figure 5.3 Near-feld Laacher See tephra thicknesses Figure 4.4 A simple two-phase Bayesian radiocarbon
(log cm) in relation to distance from vent date calibration model for the
Feder(km)messergruppen and the Bromme culture
10 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 10 05-06-2017 12:58:39Figure 3.7 Idealised relationship between distance Figure 4.5 Comparison of reconstructed mean July Figure 5.4 The posterior probability distribution Figure 5.19 The Laacher See eruption’s graded
viewfrom vent and median grain size compo- temperatures for four regions in north- of the most reliable 14C date from Bad scape
sition of tephra fallout ern Europe throughout the Late Glacial Breisig
Figure 5.20 Pressure-and-Release Model for the
Figure 3.8 The human pulmonary system and the Figure 4.6 Fishing hooks from Federmesser contexts Figure 5.5 Malaulrie points from Bad Breisig Laacher See eruption
reach of particulate matter of different
sizes Figure 4.7 First Nation Americans hunting elk Figure 5.6 Schematic stratigraphic sequences of
whilst swimming Late Glacial archaeological sites with
preChapter 6Figure 3.9 Model relationship between volcanic par- served traces of Laacher See tephra
ticulate matter/aerosol input and climate Figure 4.8 Spear-throwers and spear-thrower
fragimpact ments from the Late Magdalenian sites Figure 5.7 uences of
Figure 6.1 An attempt to address the internal devel-selected Leine valley rock-shelters with
opment of Bromme formal tool technol-Figure 3.10 Example of so-called mammatus clouds Figure 4.9 The launching sequence of a spear- traces of Laacher See tephra and Late
ogy using seriationoften seen in conjunction with volcanic thrower Glacial archaeology
eruptions
Figure 6.2 The projectile point variability observed Figure 4.10 Landmarks for deriving ballistically Figure 5.8 Near- and mid-feld Laacher See tephra
in a single Bromme assemblage com-Figure 3.11 Volcanic lightning during the 2008 relevant dimensional values from lithic thicknesses (log cm) in relation to
dispared to large tanged points from select-Chaiten eruption projectile points tance from vent ( km)
ed Federmessergruppen sites
Figure 3.12 Block schematic of the topography Figure 4.11 Maximum width measurements for a Figure 5.9 Hardness values for human and animal
Figure 6.3 Southern Scandinavian animal com-around the Laacher See caldera sample of northern European arch-back teeth and Laacher See tephra
munities: (A) Faunal colonisation and and large tanged points
extinction dynamics over time; (B) Turn-Figure 3.13 The near-vent deposits at the famous Figure 5.10 Scratch test to simulate the effects of
over rate, a measure of change in com-Wingertsbergwand (left), and the ide- Figure 4.12 Examples of shaft-smoothers from Feder- chewing on Laacher See tephra
munity compositionalised Mendig facies stratigraphic se- messergruppen contexts
quence Figure 5.11 Mechanically worn and fuorosis-affected
Figure 6.4 The only known possibly Brommean Figure 4.13 Accuracy of trained spear-throwers and teeth in Patagonian red deer following
sandstone shaft-smoother from the site Figure 3.14 Example of a burned tree trunk preserved bowyers participating in a series of com- the eruption of Puyehue-Cordon Caulle
of Møllehøje in northern central Jutlandin Laacher See deposits petitions in the 1990
Figure 5.12 Depressed tree-ring widths from Late
Figure 6.5 Symmetry values amongst selected Late Figure 3.15 Bi-plots showing the geochemical dif- Figure 4.14 Point estimates of population densities Glacial Switzerland
Glacial and Neolithic tanged pointsferentiation of near-feld ejecta from the in relation to mammalian biodiversity for
Laacher See eruption on the basis of dif- 27 recent foragers and selected areas of Figure 5.13 Radiocarbon dates for the Magdalenian
Figure 6.6 Tip angles amongst selected Late Glacial ferent elemental ratio Late Glacial Europe and Federmessergruppen occupation in
projectile pointsthe Thuringian Basin
Figure 3.16 A tri-plot of glass shard geochemistry Figure 4.15 The location of key Federmessergruppen
Figure 6.7 A selection of large tanged points from from several mid-feld locales on the sites connecting the Rhineland with the Figure 5.14 A model for forager mobility in relation
the hunting-stand/cache at Ommels main north-eastern fallout lobe central part of the North European Plain to spatial/temporal resource
distribuHovedtions
Figure 3.17 The spatial distribution of occurrences of Figure 4.16 Characteristic northern
FedermesserFigure 6.8 Venn diagram of the logical relation be-Laacher See tephra across Europe gruppen artefact assemblage containing Figure 5.15 Near-, mid- and far-feld Laacher See
tween the Federmessergruppen and the arch-backed and large tanged points, tephra thicknesses (log cm) in relation to
Bromme cultureWehlener and small scrapers distance from vent ( km)
Chapter 4
Figure 4.17 On/off-site schematic for the distribu- Figure 5.16 Lightning strike frequency in
northtion of fnds and sites in the landscape eastern Germany, centred on sites with Chapter 7
Figure 4.1 Form diversity within the category known Federmessergruppen archaeology
‘Feder messer’ as perceived by Schwabedis- and Laacher See tephra
sen Figure 7.1 The ‘punctuated entropy’ model of
Chapter 5 Figure 5.17 The Laacher See eruption’s graded Dwy er
Figure 4.2 The important stratigraphy at Rissen soundscape
north of Hamburg Figure 7.2 Current population densities in Europe
Figure 5.1 The generic Pressure-and-Release Model
Figure 5.18 tion’s graded
shockFigure 4.3 Lithic developmental scheme for the Late scape Figure 7.3 The location of power plants in Europe
Figure 5.2 The Access ModelGlacial in northern France in relation to the Laacher See hazard
zonation
Figure 5.3 Near-feld Laacher See tephra thicknesses Figure 4.4 A simple two-phase Bayesian radiocarbon
(log cm) in relation to distance from vent date calibration model for the
Feder(km)messergruppen and the Bromme culture
10 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N L I S T O F F I G U R E S | 11
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 10 05-06-2017 12:58:39 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 11 05-06-2017 12:58:39List of tables
Chapter 1 Chapter 3
Table 1.1 The general chronological and termino- Table 3.1 Types of eruptions and their basic
charlogical framework used in this book acteristics as well as locational variants
Table 1.2 Various hypotheses for the origins of the Table 3.2 Descriptions of Volcanic Explosivity
InBromme culture dex ratings
Table 1.3 The formal logic of necessity and suf- Table 3.3 Example explosive eruptions, their VEI,
fciency in relation to raw material deter - calculated magnitude and peak intensity
minism in the Late Glacial
Table 3.4 Historical eruptions and their
destrucTable 1.4 Source critical factors affecting the fnd- tiveness, D
ing and recording of Bromme and
Federmessergruppen material Table 3.5 Examples of major (M≥5) eruptions and
the probability of similar-sized eruptions
Table 1.5 Examples of taxonomic labels applied to occurring in the near future
North European Late Glacial
technocomplexes Table 3.6 Volcanic hazard phenomena and their
likelihood of occurrence proximally,
medially, distally, and globally
Chapter 2
Table 3.7 Recorded distances at which explosive
volcanic eruption have been heard
Table 2.1 A classifcation for different behaviours
Table 3.8 Tephra cover thickness and its effects on or features of organisms or population
soilwith regards to their match to their
environment
Table 3.9 Common effects on climate and weather
following large explosive eruptions Table 2.2 Basic natural hazard and societal
characteristics that structure the severity of
Table 3.10 The changing effect dynamics of volca-impact
nism in relation to human communities
Table 2.3 Pre-industrial and industrial responses to
Table 3.11 Summary of key characteristics of the natural hazards
Laacher See eruption
Table 3.12 tion type, column height
and air-fall trajectory by eruption phase
12 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 12 05-06-2017 12:58:39Chapter 5Table 3.13 Present-day countries where Laacher See
ejecta has been found
Table 5.1 The temporalities of disaster impact in
Table 3.14 Locales that preserve traces of Laacher
short-term perspective
See tephra and human habitation
List of tables Table 5.2 Grain-size distributions of tephra
samples from the north-eastern and western
fallout lobesChapter 4
Table 5.3 Bird species known from the Late Glacial
of southern ScandinaviaTable 4.1 Trait list for distinguishing pioneer and
post-pioneer groups in the Palaeolithic
Table 5.4 The distribution of noise sources and archaeological record
levels in traditional, pre-industrial,
industrial, and contemporary societyTable 4.2 Animal species known from different
regions of Federmessergruppen settlementChapter 1 Chapter 3
Table 5.5 The temporalities of the Laacher See
eruption’s impactTable 4.3 Stone Age weapon components and the
chances of survival of the different com-Table 1.1 The general chronological and termino- Table 3.1 Types of eruptions and their basic
charponentslogical framework used in this book acteristics as well as locational variants
Chapter 6
Table 4.4 Magdalenian/Federmessergruppen sites Table 1.2 Various hypotheses for the origins of the Table 3.2 Descriptions of Volcanic Explosivity
Inwith large tanged pointsBromme culture dex ratings
Table 6.1 Non-radiometric dating evidence for the
Bromme cultureTable 4.5 The relationship between projectile tip Table 1.3 The formal logic of necessity and suf- Table 3.3 Example explosive eruptions, their VEI,
weight and bow draw strength in tradi-fciency in relation to raw material deter - calculated magnitude and peak intensity
Table 6.2 Excerpt from the original results table tional archeryminism in the Late Glacial
of Fischer and colleagues’ shooting trials Table 3.4 Historical eruptions and their
destrucusing large tanged pointsTable 4.6 Shaft-smoothers and their dimensions Table 1.4 Source critical factors affecting the fnd- tiveness, D
from Federmessergruppen sitesing and recording of Bromme and
FederTable 6.3 Rowley’s listing of migration motivations messergruppen material Table 3.5 Examples of major (M≥5) eruptions and
in the ArcticTable 4.7 Performance comparison of different the probability of similar-sized eruptions
weapon systemsTable 1.5 Examples of taxonomic labels applied to occurring in the near future
North European Late Glacial
technocomTable 4.8 Raw material frequencies at Central Chapter 7plexes Table 3.6 Volcanic hazard phenomena and their
European sites connecting the Rhineland likelihood of occurrence proximally,
mewith the North European Plaindially, distally, and globally
Table 7.1 Sewell’s event criteria and evidence from
Chapter 2 the Late GlacialTable 3.7 Recorded distances at which explosive
volcanic eruption have been heard
Table 2.1 A classifcation for different behaviours
Table 3.8 Tephra cover thickness and its effects on or features of organisms or population
soilwith regards to their match to their
environment
Table 3.9 Common effects on climate and weather
following large explosive eruptions Table 2.2 Basic natural hazard and societal
characteristics that structure the severity of
Table 3.10 The changing effect dynamics of volca-impact
nism in relation to human communities
Table 2.3 Pre-industrial and industrial responses to
Table 3.11 Summary of key characteristics of the natural hazards
Laacher See eruption
Table 3.12 Laacher See eruption type, column height
and air-fall trajectory by eruption phase
12 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N L I S T O F T A B L E S | 13
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 12 05-06-2017 12:58:39 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 13 05-06-2017 12:58:39List of formulae
Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Formula 3.1 Volcanic eruption magnitude, M Formula 4.1 Tip cross-sectional area (TCSA)
Formula 3.2 Volcanic eruption intensity, I Formula 4.2 Tip cross-sectional perimeter for
unifacial points (TCS )Punifacial
Formula 3.3 Volcanic eruption gross destructiveness, D
Formula 4.3 Single-variable (width) discriminant
function for arrowheads
Formula 4.4
function for dart-tips
14 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 14 05-06-2017 12:58:39Chapter 1
List of formulae Splendid isolation
Chapter 3 Chapter 4
1.1 Introduction
Formula 3.1 Volcanic eruption magnitude, M Formula 4.1 Tip cross-sectional area (TCSA) The year is 12,800 BP. Europe is entirely oc- erable number of pages will be devoted to
discupied by people of the so-called Upper Mag- cussions of how the eruption may have
affectFormula 3.2 Volcanic eruption intensity, I Formula 4.2 Tip cross-sectional perimeter for
unidalenian culture. Well, not entirely…one small ed, in very real and negative terms, animals, facial points (TCS )Punifacial
region, southern Scandinavia differs markedly plants and humans, it is decidedly not an ar-Formula 3.3 Volcanic eruption gross destructiveness, D
Formula 4.3 Single-variable (width) discriminant from its neighbours. With a nod of apprecia- gument for some blunt and simple causality.
function for arrowheads tion to Uderzo and Goscinny, this rather fip- Rather, this book endeavours to use the
volcapant introductory sentence sets the scene for nic eruption as an analytical mirror to
investiFormula 4.4 Single-variable (width) discriminant
this book. Based on the better part of ten years gate the social structures and actions of
indifunction for dart-tips
of research, and standing on the shoulders of viduals and communities both before and after
many scholarly giants, this work is about a re- the event. Calamities lend themselves to both
markable hunter-gatherer culture found on- affective and effective narrative, but emerging
ly in southern Scandinavia during the middle trends in a diverse range of disciplines
withpart of the so-called Late Glacial, the Bromme in risk reduction research (Birkmann et al.,
culture. But this book is also – indeed, perhaps 2010; Olshansky et al., 2012), historical and
anmore so – about what came before the Brom- thropological disaster science (García-Acosta,
me culture, namely the Federmessergruppen, 2002; Oliver-Smith, 1996), historical sociology
and the way in which these two archaeologi- (Sewell, 1996a, 1996b), and archaeology
(Gratcal entities are linked together by one of north- tan and Torrence, 2007; Grattan, 2006) suggest
ern Europe’s last truly large volcanic events, the that rapid-onset, extreme events such as
volcaeruption of the Laacher See volcano located in nic eruption may i) be causally related to
pepresent-day western Germany (Fig. 1.1). Volca- riods of intense social change, and ii) provide
noes and their eruptions have long captured potentially unique analytical opportunities for
the imagination and attention of academics investigating social structures and processes
and the public alike (Sigurdsson, 1999). Per- surrounding such episodes of change (Riede,
haps it is not surprising given the incredible 2011a, 2013a, 2014g). Social change and the
reforces volcanoes at times unleash that the lationships between past human societies and
mere mention of archaeology and volcanoes their environment are mainstays of
archaeologconjures up images of Pompeii, of destruction ical inquiry. Yet, relating general changes in the
and death, and almost universally carries with environment to cultural changes remains
chalit moral connotations of sin, of punishment, lenging, not least because there usually are
critof apocalypse (Pomeroy, 2008; Sigurdsson, ical and different dating uncertainties attached
2000b; Sigurdsson and Lopes-Gautier, 2000). to both domains of information (Baillie, 1991).
This book does include the description of an Yet, extreme events such as earthquakes,
tsuintense and violent event, and while a consid- namis and, above all, volcanic eruptions offer
14 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N | 15
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 14 05-06-2017 12:58:39 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 15 05-06-2017 12:58:40Figure 1.1 The caldera relict of the Laacher See volcano today (from http://www.fdwallpapers.com).
one form of resolution here: They are often as- records). This, in turn, opens for the
opportusociated with the formation of stratigraphic nity to compare, contrast and thereby clarify
marker layers whose formation is widespread the impacts – or otherwise – of past volcanic
in space and can be considered instantaneous events on human communities in the near- and
in archaeological, geological and evolution- far-felds of such eruptions (Riede and
Thasary time: isochrons. Archaeologists working trup, 2013).
in the European Late Glacial have long been
aware of the potential chronological utility of The term catastrophe derives from the Ancient
such layers (e.g. Behlen, 1905; Schwabedissen, Greek καταστροφή, and according to the
Ox1954), and, importantly, recent years have seen ford English Dictionary (www.oed.com) refers
marked improvements in the detection and to both “an event causing great and usually
analysis of particles of volcanic origin embed- sudden damage or suffering; a disaster” – its
ded in both environmental and archaeological catastrophist meaning – but in a more ancient
stratigraphies that are not visible to the naked meaning it also refers to “the denouement of a
eye through so-called micro – or cryptotephra drama”, its turning point. Likewise, the term
analysis (Lane et al., 2014; Lowe, 2011; Lowe apocalypse derives from πό and καλύπτω
and Alloway, 2015; Sarna-Wojcicki, 2000; Swin- meaning to “uncover, reveal”. In the following,
dles et al., 2010; Turney and Lowe, 2001). This I attempt to do justice to the dual meaning of
powerful methodological extension and the re- both terms; I will both critically address and
sulting tephra isochrones assembled into so- contextualise the arguably disastrous impact
called tephrochronological lattices now offer of the Laacher See eruption on
contemporanethe opportunity not only to improve the dat- ous communities, and I will do so by using the
ing of individual eruption events, to link dif- event as a narrative juncture and
social-analytferent volcanic provinces together, but also to ical caesura. In sum, the argument laid out in
link different kinds of sedimentary archives the following chapters is about a catastrophe,
(e.g. terrestrial, lacustrine, marine and ice core but it is not catastrophist in nature.
16 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N C H A P T E R 1
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 16 05-06-2017 12:58:40re-colonization process was contingent both 1.2 Setting the scene
on the ecological and geomorphological
conAround 20,000 years ago, the Scandinavian solidation of previously glaciated landscapes,
ice sheet reached its maximum extent. Arctic the successive northward movement of biotic
desert regions locked in permafrost and devoid communities of which these hunter-gatherers
of vegetation extended several hundred kilo- were members, as well as on a number of key
metres to the south of the ice’s edge, pushing inventions that facilitated the development
plant and animal communities into refugia at of a recognisable Arctic adaption more or less
lower latitudes, especially to the Franco-Iberi- akin to that documented in the ethnographic
an region, Italy and the Balkans (Hewitt, 1999) record of northern peoples (Hoffecker, 2005a,
as well as perhaps some cryptic refugia further 2005b; Riede and Tallavaara, 2014). Living at
north (Stewart and Lister, 2001). Despite evi- very low population densities (Bocquet-Appel
dence for sporadic, perhaps exploratory excur- et al., 2005; Riede, 2009a) these Late Glacial
sions northwards dated close to the Last Gla- hunter-gatherers faced environmental
upheavcial Maximum (LGM; see Terberger and Street, als that would have posed a series of social,
2002), humans, too, had abandoned northern ecological and demographic challenges for
Europe at this time (Burdukiewicz, 2001). those groups moving into the empty and pe-
While information on past climate, de- ripheral landscapes of northern Europe (Kelly,
rived from traditional sources such as pollen, 2003; Mandryk, 1993). While this colonisation
has long shown that the period around the process can, at a very general and
geographiLGM was harsh in terms of both tempera- cally coarse level, be described as a rapid
‘fllture and aridity, the new climatic proxy data ing up’ of the northern regions (e.g. Fort et Figure 1.1 The caldera relict of the Laacher See volcano today (from http://www.fdwallpapers.com).
derived from the Greenland ice-coring proj- al., 2004), analyses at smaller scales suggest a
ects clearly demonstrates that the amplitude pronounced staggering of settlement phases
one form of resolution here: They are often as- records). This, in turn, opens for the opportu- as well as magnitude of the climatic changes contingent on, for instance, specifc landscape
sociated with the formation of stratigraphic nity to compare, contrast and thereby clarify that occurred at the end of the Pleistocene far types as well as the –at times – erratically
oscilmarker layers whose formation is widespread the impacts – or otherwise – of past volcanic exceeded any changes experienced by human lating climate of the Late Glacial (Conneller,
in space and can be considered instantaneous events on human communities in the near- and populations in the Holocene, and that some 2007; Riede, 2007b). While regions closer to
in archaeological, geological and evolution- far-felds of such eruptions (Riede and Thas- of these changes occurred on timescales below the ecologically more stable and continuously
ary time: isochrons. Archaeologists working trup, 2013). one or two human generations – well within productive refugia in south-western Europe
in the European Late Glacial have long been human experience (Burroughs, 2005). arguably show cultural sequences of more
aware of the potential chronological utility of The term catastrophe derives from the Ancient The period following the LGM is known as gradual change, peripheral regions preserve
such layers (e.g. Behlen, 1905; Schwabedissen, Greek καταστροφή, and according to the Ox- the Late Glacial or the Last Glacial Interglacial only fragments of such sequences (Pettitt,
1954), and, importantly, recent years have seen ford English Dictionary (www.oed.com) refers Transition (LGIT), which, as the latter term 2008). This fragmentary picture may at times
marked improvements in the detection and to both “an event causing great and usually suggests, chronologically bridges the period be aggravated by the less complete
preservaanalysis of particles of volcanic origin embed- sudden damage or suffering; a disaster” – its from the height of the Last Ice Age to the be- tion of archaeological sites in more northerly
ded in both environmental and archaeological catastrophist meaning – but in a more ancient ginning of our current Interglacial, the Ho- areas, but it more importantly and most likely
stratigraphies that are not visible to the naked meaning it also refers to “the denouement of a locene. The Late Glacial has been subdivided quite accurately refects the fact that peripheral
eye through so-called micro – or cryptotephra drama”, its turning point. Likewise, the term into a series of stadial (colder) and interstadial regions were only occupied ephemerally and
analysis (Lane et al., 2014; Lowe, 2011; Lowe apocalypse derives from πό and καλύπτω (warmer) phases, and the period of particular episodically, and that these regions at times
and Alloway, 2015; Sarna-Wojcicki, 2000; Swin- meaning to “uncover, reveal”. In the following, interest here starts approximately 14,000 years, saw unique cultural changes related to and
dles et al., 2010; Turney and Lowe, 2001). This I attempt to do justice to the dual meaning of and ends 12,000 years, before the present. It is rooted in their remoteness.
powerful methodological extension and the re- both terms; I will both critically address and in this period that human populations expand- Much previous research has focused on
colsulting tephra isochrones assembled into so- contextualise the arguably disastrous impact ed into the previously depopulated landscapes lating regional archaeological sequences (see
called tephrochronological lattices now offer of the Laacher See eruption on contemporane- of Northern Europe. The western sector of Eu- chapters in Barton et al., 1991; Burdukiewicz
the opportunity not only to improve the dat- ous communities, and I will do so by using the rope was colonised by forager groups bringing and Kobusiewicz, 1987; Larsson, 1996;
Sofing of individual eruption events, to link dif- event as a narrative juncture and social-analyt- with them a repertoire of tools that are most fer and Gamble, 1990; Straus et al., 1996 and
ferent volcanic provinces together, but also to ical caesura. In sum, the argument laid out in commonly referred to as Magdalenian, while references therein), while more recent work
link different kinds of sedimentary archives the following chapters is about a catastrophe, Eastern Europe saw the expansion of the mak- has attempted to better understand the mode
(e.g. terrestrial, lacustrine, marine and ice core but it is not catastrophist in nature. ers of so-called Epi-Gravettian tool-kits. This and tempo of, as well as the motivation for,
16 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N C H A P T E R 1 S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N | 17
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 16 05-06-2017 12:58:40 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 17 05-06-2017 12:58:40Event stratigraphy ice core approx. Chronozones Population events Techno-complexes
years of onset (BP)
Holocene 11,500
GS-1 Younger Dryas Contraction Ahrensburgian
GI-1a 12,650 Late Allerød Splendid isolation Brommean
LAACHER SEE ERUPTION
Gerzensee
GI-1b 12,900 Decline Federmesser-Oscillation
gruppen
GI-1c 13,150 Early Allerød Resettlement
GI-1d 13,900 Older Dryas Abandonment
Hamburgian
GI-1e 14,500 Bølling First settlement
GS-2a 16,900 First expansions
into C EuropeGS-2 GS-2b 19,500
GS-2c 21,200 S Scandinavia
not settled21,800
Last Glacial GI-2 Refugium phase
Maximum
Table 1.1 The general event-stratigraphic chronological and terminological framework used in this book. Adapted from Gamble
and colleagues (2005). GI = Greenland Interstadial, GS = Greenland Stadial.
this colonization endeavour. Beginning with treatise Splendid isolation. The curious history of
the landmark contribution of Housley et al. South American mammals charts the changing
(1997), long strides have been made in our un- dynamics of contact and isolation and their
derstanding of the continental-scale patterns respective impacts on the evolution of South
and processes in the human re-colonization American mammal communities. Likewise,
of northern Europe. Gamble and colleagues Kjellgren’s lavishly illustrated volume
Splen(2004; 2005) have assembled a synthetic scaf- did isolation: Art of Easter Island demonstrates
fold for the discussion of the human re-colo- how cultures, too, evolve when isolated. In
nization of northern Europe that incorporates fact, even ultimately maladaptive practices
recent insights from both environmental sci- can evolve under such circumstances, as
exences (Lowe et al., 2008) and from population emplifed by the demographic decline amongst
genetics (Forster, 2004). This framework will Easter Islanders, which can also be linked to
serve as a general chronological and termino- their geographic remove and their life without
logical anchor here (Table 1.1). neighbours (e.g. Diamond, 2010a; Good and
Reuveny, 2006; Mieth and Bork, 2010; Rolett
As the title of this book and of this chapter and Diamond, 2004). In the same vein, the
alludes to, isolation and splendour are im- present book is about similarly changing
traportant notions in understanding the mak- jectories of isolation and contact amongst late
ing of, in particular, the Bromme culture. The Ice Age hunter-gatherers in southern
Scandiidiom ‘splendid isolation’ requires comment, navia, and it will use an evolutionary
theoretihowever: Initially coined to describe the for- cal framework not unlike the one of Simpson,
eign policy of the British Empire in the late but one applied – in line with recent
developth19 century (Charmley, 1999), this evocative ments in evolutionary archaeology (Shennan,
term has since been transferred to discussions 2008, 2011a, 2011b) – to culture change. The
of Easter Island art (Kjellgren, 2001) and to isolation experienced by Late Glacial
foragSouth American mammals (Simpson, 1980). ers in southern Scandinavia may, at least in
Although perhaps best known in its original parts, have been splendid in the sense that they
political meaning, it is really the latter two found themselves in an area extremely rich in
uses that are most germane here. The great one of their key natural resources, fint, as well
palaeontologist George Gaylord Simpson’s as perhaps other resources such as preferred
18 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N C H A P T E R 1
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 18 05-06-2017 12:58:40Event stratigraphy ice core approx. Chronozones Population events Techno-complexes
years of onset (BP)
Holocene 11,500
GS-1 Younger Dryas Contraction Ahrensburgian
GI-1a 12,650 Late Allerød Splendid isolation Brommean
LAACHER SEE ERUPTION
Gerzensee
GI-1b 12,900 Decline Federmesser-Oscillation
gruppen
GI-1c 13,150 Early Allerød Resettlement
GI-1d 13,900 Older Dryas Abandonment
Hamburgian
GI-1e 14,500 Bølling First settlement
GS-2a 16,900 First expansions
into C EuropeGS-2 GS-2b 19,500
GS-2c 21,200 S Scandinavia
not settled21,800
Last Glacial GI-2 Refugium phase
Maximum
Table 1.1 The general event-stratigraphic chronological and terminological framework used in this book. Adapted from Gamble
and colleagues (2005). GI = Greenland Interstadial, GS = Greenland Stadial.
this colonization endeavour. Beginning with treatise Splendid isolation. The curious history of
the landmark contribution of Housley et al. South American mammals charts the changing
(1997), long strides have been made in our un- dynamics of contact and isolation and their Figure 1.2 Schematic showing the contrasts between the Federmessergruppen of the early and middle part of the Allerød and the
derstanding of the continental-scale patterns respective impacts on the evolution of South Bromme culture of the late Allerød/early Younger Dryas. sites have yielded evidence of art here exemplified
by the magnificent amber elk head from the site of Weitsche in northern Germany, organic technologies such as harpoons and and processes in the human re-colonization American mammal communities. Likewise,
fishhooks as well as a range quotidian stone tools such as the characteristic arch-backed points, large tanged points, small and
of northern Europe. Gamble and colleagues Kjellgren’s lavishly illustrated volume
Splenlarge scrapers and burins. Auxiliary stone tools such sandstone shaft-smoothers are also known, at times even decorated. In
(2004; 2005) have assembled a synthetic scaf- did isolation: Art of Easter Island demonstrates contrast, the Bromme culture is only defined by the presence of large tanged points, large scrapers and miscellaneous burins. A
single shaft-smoother from a possible Brommean context is also known. See Chapters 4-6 for further discussion and references.fold for the discussion of the human re-colo- how cultures, too, evolve when isolated. In
nization of northern Europe that incorporates fact, even ultimately maladaptive practices
recent insights from both environmental sci- can evolve under such circumstances, as
exences (Lowe et al., 2008) and from population emplifed by the demographic decline amongst large game animals, fowl, and fshing grounds. 3. It is characterised by a simplifed toolkit
genetics (Forster, 2004). This framework will Easter Islanders, which can also be linked to Yet, this small group of foragers also diverged and tool production techniques at a time
serve as a general chronological and termino- their geographic remove and their life without markedly in its cultural make-up from those of otherwise increasing toolkit diversity.
logical anchor here (Table 1.1). neighbours (e.g. Diamond, 2010a; Good and of contemporaneous communities elsewhere 4. y large and rather
Reuveny, 2006; Mieth and Bork, 2010; Rolett in Europe. In the regions today encompassed heavy tools at a time of increasing use of
As the title of this book and of this chapter and Diamond, 2004). In the same vein, the by Denmark, the very tip of southern Swe- very small stone tool components in the
alludes to, isolation and splendour are im- present book is about similarly changing tra- den, and the very northern end of Germany, form of backed elements and microliths
portant notions in understanding the mak- jectories of isolation and contact amongst late a unique archaeological phenomenon can be elsewhere.
ing of, in particular, the Bromme culture. The Ice Age hunter-gatherers in southern Scandi- defned: the Bromme culture. Named after the
idiom ‘splendid isolation’ requires comment, navia, and it will use an evolutionary theoreti- eponymous excavation site where it was frst These four traits not only distinguish the
however: Initially coined to describe the for- cal framework not unlike the one of Simpson, recognised (Mathiassen, 1946), this archaeo- Bromme culture markedly from the cultures
eign policy of the British Empire in the late but one applied – in line with recent develop- logical culture is characterised by four features that, in southern Scandinavia, came before (the
th19 century (Charmley, 1999), this evocative ments in evolutionary archaeology (Shennan, (Fig. 1.2): Federmessergruppen) and after (the
Ahrensterm has since been transferred to discussions 2008, 2011a, 2011b) – to culture change. The burgian culture), but they also go strongly
of Easter Island art (Kjellgren, 2001) and to isolation experienced by Late Glacial forag- 1. There is a real net increase in sites belong- against the grain of general contemporaneous
South American mammals (Simpson, 1980). ers in southern Scandinavia may, at least in ing to this culture in southern Scandi- cultural developments and thus need
explanaAlthough perhaps best known in its original parts, have been splendid in the sense that they navia. tion. Attempts to correlate the emergence of
political meaning, it is really the latter two found themselves in an area extremely rich in 2. It is geographically circumscribed at a this culture with general patterns of climate
uses that are most germane here. The great one of their key natural resources, fint, as well time of otherwise general cultural ho- or environmental change, or simply with the
palaeontologist George Gaylord Simpson’s as perhaps other resources such as preferred mogeneity over a large region. abundance of high-quality fint resources in
18 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N C H A P T E R 1 S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N | 19
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 18 05-06-2017 12:58:40 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 19 05-06-2017 12:58:41the area, fail to account satisfactorily for the ash fallout (Riede et al., 2011c) as well as the
specifcity of these characteristics, especially as likely mechanisms of ecological impact (Riede
some of the observed changes imply a loss of and Wheeler, 2009; Riede and Bazely, 2009;
Rieostensibly adaptive technologies such as the de and Kierdorf, in prep.) and subsequent
sobow-and-arrow (Dev and Riede, 2012; Riede, cial and technological changes (Dev and Riede,
2009d). 2012; Riede, 2009d, 2011a, 2014b, 2015). These
This book then is not really a monograph studies have each tested or further
substaniatabout the Bromme culture in a traditional ed, different facets of the Laacher See
hypothsense. Instead, it is problem-oriented and an- esis. This book follows up on, updates, and
exalytical, offering one possible explanation for tends these efforts by attempting to map and
the emergence and fate of the Bromme phe- analyse the wider extent of impact and change
nomenon in southern Scandinavia. The ex- following the eruption. More broadly, it also
planatory nexus of this book is the event that attempts to use the event as an analytical
mirarguably gave rise to the isolation of these for- ror onto the societies and their internal
dynamager groups, which in turn precipitated the cul- ics prior to it. Quite critically, this means
intural changes alluded to above: Around 13,000 verting our perspective from looking primarily
BP – and BP here stands for the conventional at the post-eruptive changes and the Bromme
‘before AD 1950’ – the Laacher See volcano in culture to considering, on an even footing, the
present-day western Germany erupted cataclys- pre-eruptive Federmessergruppen. In this way,
mically. This eruption is very well-investigated post-eruption changes may be linked to salient
from a volcanological perspective (Schmincke, patterns of vulnerability amongst these Late
2006; Schmincke et al., 1999). Indeed, the Pom- Glacial foragers. In addition, this consideration
peii-like preservative covering of its fallout of the Federmessergruppen allows the explicit
contributed signifcantly to the archaeology identifcation of a source population for the
of the near-feld area in the Rhineland (Baales, more sustained immigration of foragers into
2002b). Yet, few – Thissen (1995) and Mania southern Scandinavia following the LSE.
(2003) among them – have as yet considered in As disaster scientists have pointed out for
detail how this eruption may have affected the a long time and repeatedly, an extreme event
ecology, economy, and the social as well as reli- (volcanic eruption, earthquake, tsunami,
gious lives of contemporaneous forager groups etc.) in itself does not make a catastrophe.
not only in the immediate vicinity of the vol- Catastrophes emerge only in the interaction
cano but far away from it. Having noted a po- of such events with particular human
societtentially remarkable chronological and spatial ies in particular places and times (Alexander,
exclusivity of the Laacher See eruption and its 2000; O’Keefe et al., 1976; Oliver-Smith, 1996).
attendant fallout on the one hand, and the The historical, political, social and economic
Bromme culture in southern Scandinavia on constellations of the affected societies vary,
the other, I some time ago proposed the ‘Laach- thus making them critical parameters in any
er See hypothesis’ for the origin of the Bromme analysis of causality in relation to impact and
culture (Riede, 2007a, 2008b). This hypothesis to vulnerability.
was specifcally geared at addressing the seem -
ingly paradoxical notion that the impact of this
eruption should be more pronounced with dis- 1.3 Outline of the book
tance from the eruptive centre. The Laacher See
hypothesis has not gone unchallenged, primar- In considering historical disaster research,
ily on the ground of archaeological evidence García-Acosta (2002: 50) has argued that
dior lack thereof (Sørensen, 2010; Weber et al., saster events can be both “triggers” of social
2011). Yet, numerous subsequent interdisci- change and “revealers” of such changes. This
plinary studies have provided insights into the dual function of disasters thus provides an
chronology of this interesting time period (Rie- unusual and potentially productive analytical
de and Edinborough, 2012), the extent of the angle on the function of societies both past
20 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N C H A P T E R 1
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 20 05-06-2017 12:58:41the area, fail to account satisfactorily for the ash fallout (Riede et al., 2011c) as well as the human responses to volcanic eruptions. At
specifcity of these characteristics, especially as likely mechanisms of ecological impact (Riede the same time, Chapter 2 also introduces
elesome of the observed changes imply a loss of and Wheeler, 2009; Riede and Bazely, 2009; Rie- ments of understanding disasters that will be
ostensibly adaptive technologies such as the de and Kierdorf, in prep.) and subsequent so- particularly relevant for linking the Laacher
bow-and-arrow (Dev and Riede, 2012; Riede, cial and technological changes (Dev and Riede, See eruption to Late Glacial societal changes,
2009d). 2012; Riede, 2009d, 2011a, 2014b, 2015). These and for how disaster science may beneft from
This book then is not really a monograph studies have each tested or further substaniat- also drawing on archaeological data. Chapter
about the Bromme culture in a traditional ed, different facets of the Laacher See hypoth- 3 will then very briefy introduce volcanism in Figure 1.3 The temporal dimensions of various disciplines
studying the impact of extreme events on human societies sense. Instead, it is problem-oriented and an- esis. This book follows up on, updates, and ex- general, and explosive volcanism in particular.
along the ‘vibrating rubber-band’ model of volcanic after-alytical, offering one possible explanation for tends these efforts by attempting to map and Much has been written on volcanic activity
effects of de Boer and Sanders (2002).
the emergence and fate of the Bromme phe- analyse the wider extent of impact and change from a geological perspective by scholars
nomenon in southern Scandinavia. The ex- following the eruption. More broadly, it also better placed to provide such comprehensive
planatory nexus of this book is the event that attempts to use the event as an analytical mir- and present: If a given disaster acts as a catalyst reviews (e.g. Francis and Oppenheimer, 2004;
arguably gave rise to the isolation of these for- ror onto the societies and their internal dynam- of change, such changes are rooted in the on- Robock and Oppenheimer, 2003; Schmincke,
ager groups, which in turn precipitated the cul- ics prior to it. Quite critically, this means in- going and historically constituted social and 2004). The frst half of this chapter serves as a
tural changes alluded to above: Around 13,000 verting our perspective from looking primarily natural entanglements of the affected societies prelude to a consideration of the specifc event
BP – and BP here stands for the conventional at the post-eruptive changes and the Bromme with the world around them. Moreover, these in question here, the Laacher See eruption.
‘before AD 1950’ – the Laacher See volcano in culture to considering, on an even footing, the processes of change and the structures and ac- The second part of Chapter 3 summarises the
present-day western Germany erupted cataclys- pre-eruptive Federmessergruppen. In this way, tions they refect are thrown into analytical re- main eruption parameters of this cataclysm
mically. This eruption is very well-investigated post-eruption changes may be linked to salient lief precisely because of the perturbation con- and its unfolding in the near-feld. Much has
from a volcanological perspective (Schmincke, patterns of vulnerability amongst these Late stituted by the disaster event. Finally, because been written about the Laacher See eruption,
2006; Schmincke et al., 1999). Indeed, the Pom- Glacial foragers. In addition, this consideration these processes unfold over time, chronology as it has been the object of intense study by
peii-like preservative covering of its fallout of the Federmessergruppen allows the explicit is an important dimension. If the impact and volcanologists, especially during the latter
thcontributed signifcantly to the archaeology identifcation of a source population for the responses at different temporal scales are re- half of the 20 century. In particular, the
efof the near-feld area in the Rhineland (Baales, more sustained immigration of foragers into lated to pre-disaster (social and natural) con- forts of Hans-Ulrich Schmincke, his students
2002b). Yet, few – Thissen (1995) and Mania southern Scandinavia following the LSE. stellations, then disciplines such as sociology and colleagues have provided remarkably
(2003) among them – have as yet considered in As disaster scientists have pointed out for and anthropology can study immediate post- detailed insights into the eruption dynamics
detail how this eruption may have affected the a long time and repeatedly, an extreme event disaster responses and their attendant imme- and likely climatic impacts of this event. Both
ecology, economy, and the social as well as reli- (volcanic eruption, earthquake, tsunami, diate pre-disaster vulnerabilities. Archaeology, popular and technical summaries of these
regious lives of contemporaneous forager groups etc.) in itself does not make a catastrophe. in contrast, has the prerequisite data on such sults are widely available (Schmincke, 1988,
not only in the immediate vicinity of the vol- Catastrophes emerge only in the interaction relations in the long-term (Fig. 1.3). 2006, 2010). Complementary to these focused
cano but far away from it. Having noted a po- of such events with particular human societ- volcanological investigations, some recent
eftentially remarkable chronological and spatial ies in particular places and times (Alexander, But frst things frst: The remaining bulk of forts have also looked closer at the extent and
exclusivity of the Laacher See eruption and its 2000; O’Keefe et al., 1976; Oliver-Smith, 1996). this chapter asks what there is to explain at nature of the ash (= tephra) fallout from this
attendant fallout on the one hand, and the The historical, political, social and economic all. In posing this question, I aim to uncover eruption in the medium- and far-felds (Riede,
Bromme culture in southern Scandinavia on constellations of the affected societies vary, some of the assumptions that have made 2012b; Riede et al., 2011c). The tephra fallout,
the other, I some time ago proposed the ‘Laach- thus making them critical parameters in any addressing the uniqueness of the Bromme its crude thickness, the season of deposition,
er See hypothesis’ for the origin of the Bromme analysis of causality in relation to impact and culture diffcult to the point where it is in latitude and the economic systems affected
culture (Riede, 2007a, 2008b). This hypothesis to vulnerability. fact often simply ignored. Chapter 2 picks by it all play important roles in shaping the
was specifcally geared at addressing the seem - up the theme of disaster and catastrophe and dynamics of impact from proximal to distal
ingly paradoxical notion that the impact of this unpacks these terms from a perspective that (see, for instance, Thorarinsson, 1979).
eruption should be more pronounced with dis- makes them useable in specifcally archaeo - Chapter 4 focuses on the hunter-gatherer 1.3 Outline of the book
tance from the eruptive centre. The Laacher See logical and historical contexts. The response communities in northern Europe prior to
hypothesis has not gone unchallenged, primar- In considering historical disaster research, of individuals, communities, and of cultures the eruption: the Federmessergruppen. I will
ily on the ground of archaeological evidence García-Acosta (2002: 50) has argued that di- to extreme events cannot be understood sketch out what we know about the
technolor lack thereof (Sørensen, 2010; Weber et al., saster events can be both “triggers” of social without reference to key elements such as ogy, economy and social structure of these
2011). Yet, numerous subsequent interdisci- change and “revealers” of such changes. This vulnerability, resilience and adaptation, and groups, highlighting in particular those
asplinary studies have provided insights into the dual function of disasters thus provides an without looking in a broad comparative fash- pects that I consider important for then
underchronology of this interesting time period (Rie- unusual and potentially productive analytical ion at the parameters that again and again standing how an event such as the Laacher See
de and Edinborough, 2012), the extent of the angle on the function of societies both past have been considered critical in structuring eruption could have affected them in the way it
20 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N C H A P T E R 1 S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N | 21
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 20 05-06-2017 12:58:41 105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 21 05-06-2017 12:58:41did. Chapter 5 draws on the previous chapters events and their impacts or otherwise on
train charting the “progression of vulnerability” ditional societies may be of some use in
un(Wisner et al., 2004: 87) – an approach devel- derstanding the effects of such events in the
oped by disaster scientists to interrogate cau- present. On the whole, disaster science remains
sality in calamities – of Late Glacial societies dominated by natural and engineering science
in different regions across Europe in relation approaches. Whilst detailed natural scientifc
to the effects of the Laacher See eruption. Im- knowledge of a given event is critical in
underportantly, these effects varied from region to standing its impacts, an equally thorough
unregion, as did the ecological and social confgu - derstanding of the affected communities, their
rations with which they interacted. Inspired by economies, ecologies, religious structures, and
the notion of ‘natural experiments of history’ how all of these have developed over time can
(Diamond and Robinson, 2010), I here take a be said to be just as important – especially if
geographically broad synchronic comparative the aim is not only to retrospectively relate
perspective that illustrates how the responses post-event impacts to pre-event patterns of
of these small groups of highly mobile hunt- vulnerability but to use such analyses to
reer-gatherers changed depending on both the fect on (a) the societal impacts of extreme
specifc hazards to which they were exposed, events, and on (b) how effciently and effec -
but also their position within wider networks tively to prepare for future calamities.
Arguof alliance, trade and contact. Chapter 6 f- ably, history matters when investigating the
nally turns more specifcally to the Bromme relationship between human communities,
culture and looks at what happened, or may present-day vulnerability and extreme events
have happened, in southern Scandinavia fol- (Bankoff, 2004; Boonstra and de Boer, 2014).
lowing the Laacher See eruption. This chapter Following García-Acosta (2002: 65) “emphasis
considers in some detail both the particular should be placed on understanding the
surproperties of the Bromme culture and places it rounding and prior sociocultural context and
in a diachronically comparative manner within a vulnerability to the effects of a certain hazard.
wider context of how hunter-gatherer societies Examining one of the key theoretical issues in
elsewhere and at other times have responded any disaster research – the
multidimensionalto hazards such as volcanic eruptions. By the ity of disasters as expressed in the concept of
end of this chapter it should be evident that al- socially constructed vulnerability – deepens
though detailed considerations of vulnerabil- our knowledge of hazards themselves; to
deterity, impact and change in response to volcanic mine the cause of calamitous incidence,
recureruptions as far back in time as the Late Gla- rence, and probability; to differentiate scale,
cial are fraught with issues of data resolution, intensity, and duration; to understand how to
linking the emergence of the Bromme culture face disasters or avoid them”.
to the Laacher See eruption is consistent with The aim of this book is not, of course, to
the available information and provides a gen- argue that archaeological data can directly
reuinely novel way of looking at this instance duce vulnerability, although they occasionally
of prehistoric culture change. The combined can make very practical suggestions (Sheets,
synchronic and diachronic views of Chapters 4 2012). Instead, this book frst and foremost
and 6, articulated by the theoretical and com- aims to explain one particular instance of
draparative apparatus concentrated in Chapter 5, matic cultural change – the emergence of the
together provide a hopefully stimulating view Bromme culture – in the wake of a rare but
on Late Glacial societies in northern Europe, intense event. A corollary of this study is that
not least because much conceptual, empirical other episodes of marked culture change in
and analytical work remains to be done for fur- deep time but also in more recent periods may
ther evaluating the predictions and hypotheses proftably be seen through the lens of vulner -
it generates. ability and in relation to extreme events (e.g.
The concluding Chapter 7 sketches out a Dumond, 2004; Jacoby et al., 1999; Maschner
roadmap for how the study of past extreme and Jordan, 2008; McCormick, 2008;
Mc22 | S P L E N D I D I S O L A T I O N C H A P T E R 1
 Contents
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105195_splendid_isolation_10k.indd 22 05-06-2017 12:58:41

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