A Geography of Offerings: Deposits of Valuables in the Landscapes of Ancient Europe [Paperback]

Richard Bradley (Author)

ISBN: 9781785704772 | Published by: Oxbow Books | Series: Oxbow Insights in Archaeology | Volume: 3 | Year of Publication: 2016 | Language: English 160p, H197 x W126 (mm) b/w and colour

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A Geography of Offerings


More than quarter of a century ago Richard Bradley published The Passage of Arms. It was conceived as An Archaeological Analysis of Prehistoric Hoards and Votive Deposits, but, as the author concedes, these terms were too narrowly focused for the complex subject of deliberate deposition and the period covered too short. A Geography of Offerings has been written to provoke a reaction from archaeologists and has two main aims. The first is to move this kind of archaeology away from the minute study of ancient objects to a more ambitious analysis of ancient places and landscapes. The second is to recognise that problems of interpretation are not restricted to the pre-Roman period. Mesolithic finds have a place in this discussion, and so do those of the 1st millennium AD. Archaeologists studying individual periods confront with similar problems and the same debates are repeated within separate groups of scholars – but they arrive at different conclusions. Here, the author presents a review that brings these discussions together and extends across the entire sequence. Rather than offer a comprehensive survey, this is an extended essay about the strengths and weaknesses of current thinking regarding specialised deposits, which encompass both sacrificial deposits characterised by large quantities of animal and human bones and other collections which are dominated by finds of stone or metal artefacts. It considers current approaches and theory, the histories of individual artefacts and the landscape and physical context of the of places where they were deposited, the character of materials, the importance of animism and the character of ancient cosmologies.

Table of Contents

Chapter One    Beginning again
Chapter Two  A chapter of accidents
 The Broadward hoard
 The Mästermyr hoard
 Bridges and troubled waters
Iron Age deposits at La Tène
Roman artefacts from the Rhine near Mainz
Literary sources
 Ritual and non-ritual, religious and secular deposits
 The ubiquity of water
Hidden in plain sight
Chapter Three    Faultlines in contemporary research
 Chronological faultlines
 Controversy and uncertainty
 The sources of confusion
 Unfinished business
 The next stage
Chapter Four Proportional representation
 The variety of deposits
 Excavations at two spring deposits
 Excavations at other wetland deposits
 Excavations at dryland deposits
 A question of scale
 A question of time
Chapter five The hoard as a still life
 Summary and conclusions
Chapter Six The nature of things
 Technologies and myths
 Stone and metal
Chapter Seven A kind of regeneration
 The final act
 Whole and undamaged artefacts
 Incomplete or damaged artefacts
 Friendly fire
 the last act
Chapter 8 Vanishing point
 Sinking treasures
 Giving and taking
 Artefacts with attitude
 Profiting from loss
 Exquisite corpses
Chapter Nine A guide to strange places
 Naming places
 Going under
 Going forward
 Northern lights
 Southern comforts
 A note of caution
Chapter 10 Thresholds and transitions
 Bridges, fords and causeways
 Other kinds of boundaries
 River names and their associations
 The character of water
 The character of mountains
 The earth compels
 A final reflection

Reviews & Quotes

"Building upon, but greatly expanding, his earlier influential work, this small book will be widely read and much appreciated for the way in which it demonstrates that ‘big data’ also require big ideas."
Robert Witcher
Antiquity (16/06/2017)

"This elegant, stimulating, dialogous book will hopefully appeal to all archaeologists, whatever their period persuasion… This book readily bears several reading either of its entirety or its discreet but connected parts and its compact, travel-anywhere size helps to facilitate that."
Mark A. Hall
Medieval Archaeology (05/02/2019)

"A pocket-sized archaeology book that is packed full of useful information…accessible both to those new to the subject and to those with a detailed knowledge of individual periods or types of evidence. "
Sophia Adams
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society (11/05/2017)

"The relatively small size of this book belies its ambition. A Geography of Offerings is as accessible as it is erudite, and will appeal to anyone with an interest in ancient landscapes and specialised deposits, regardless of specialism… a fresh perspective on a subject that I believed could not be usefully reconsidered. Bradley has proven me wrong."
Ceri Houlbrook
Time and Mind: The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture (02/01/2018)

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