Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1000: An Encyclopedia of by Peter I. Bogucki, Pam J. Crabtree

By Peter I. Bogucki, Pam J. Crabtree

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Additional info for Ancient Europe, 8000 B.C. to A.D. 1000: An Encyclopedia of the Barbarian World

Sample text

Who studies European barbarian societies? Principally, this topic has been of greatest interest to archaeologists, both from Europe and from elsewhere, although some historians also are interested in the people who came into contact with the literate civilizations of Greece and Rome. Archaeologists are people who study past societies through their material remains. Contrary to the impression given by the Indiana Jones movies, archaeologists do not usually lead lives of great danger in the pursuit of unique mythical items such as the Holy Grail.

Today, some might say that all interpretations of the archaeological record are equally valid. Serious archaeologists, however, place a greater value on evidence and documentation over flights of fancy and conjecture. New evidence is always coming to light that can overturn current ideas about 6 the past, but such evidence must be presented clearly and evaluated rigorously before it can be accepted. Only then can valid interpretations be made. Archaeologists often disagree with one another about how the archaeological record should be interpreted, but they all base their views on evidence.

Very little is known of where they lived, although it appears that their settlements were simple farmsteads similar to others in the surrounding countryside. The important thing is that Stonehenge did not appear suddenly but rather was built by a thriving society that had inhabited the region for centuries and whose distant descendants eventually met the Romans when they arrived in Britain almost two thousand years later. When Julius Caesar described the customs of the native inhabitants of Gaul and Britain in his account of his campaigns, he was writing of a land where agriculture had been practiced for nearly five thousand years, yet states and empires had not emerged.

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