An Academic Narrative on Ancient Monuments

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An Academic Narrative

Behind every work there is a story. Often, the story can better explain why a work looks the way it does than can any formal academic argument. The present work started as a Doctoral thesis. So here is its much abbreviated story.

Choosing the topic

I have been fascinated by what monuments mean to people ever since my Hamburg M.A. thesis of 1993, in which I investigated empirically the contemporaneous meanings of three selected megaliths and menhirs in Germany. Having come to Lampeter later the same year, I wrote a second M.A. thesis also about the various meanings of megaliths, but this time focussing on the theoretical background of Radical Constructivism and Reception Theory as well as on prehistoric and historic case-studies. As I had to make a decision about my Ph.D. research topic early in 1994, this topic seemed to be interesting and promising to pursue further. I chose later prehistory as a time period, since I was mainly interested in working with evidence of material culture. In excluding earlier periods as well as the Medieval age, I hoped to avoid dealing with possible continuities of burial traditions and ancestor cults during the Neolithic up until the early Bronze Age on the one hand, and with the quite complex problem of using written sources in arguments about historic periods on the other.

Since I started my work in 1994, the basic theme proved feasible and has stayed virtually the same; however, I modified my exact line of argument on several occasions. These changes are reflected in various outlines and abstracts which I wrote at different points in time. Although empirical detail has a certain irresistible attraction to me (as well as a considerable rhetorical power), the theoretical aspects of my work, such as thoughts about past and present, have always (and perhaps over the years increasingly) been more important to me than the details of the archaeology of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern...
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