Silbury Hill, in Avebury (Wiltshire, England), is the largest man-made structure in prehistoric Europe - a 37 metre high flat topped cone ‘pyramid’ made of chalk, stone and earth. It was built about 2400 BC as part of the Avebury monument complex. If you view our prehistory as largely beginning with the rise of agriculture in the Neolithic, then you might view this monument as a signature achievement for a society emerging out of a more primitive past. Alternatively, if you view our prehistory as one beginning under women’s leadership about 200k years ago with matrilineal egalitarian hunter-gatherers in Africa, then you might expect that their cosmology would pose a significant barrier to a society that no longer could ‘afford’ egalitarianism. In this case Silbury Hill could represent a social and sexual reversal signifying a new oppression. In the talk we will examine the evidence to discriminate between these views.
Daryll Forde Seminar Room, Anthropology Building, 14 Taviton St, off Gordon Sq., London WC1H 0BW. Tube: Euston Square