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Bastiaan Steffens takes up PhD position at Leicester University

January 1st 2017, Bastiaan Steffens will be taking up the Graduate Teaching Assistance PhD position at the Archaeology and Ancient History department at Leicester University.

As a teaching assistant, he will help supervise a fieldschool at Bradgate park, an 800 year old deer hunting estate just outside of Leicester where sites have been found ranging from the Late Palaeolithic to the Second World War. He will also be involved with teaching courses to BA and MA students. In his PhD research, he will investigate the place of the “past in the past” in the Bronze Age. The project is summarised below.

A Curated Past 

Investigating changing conceptualisations of the past in Middle Bronze Age landscapes along the Southern North Sea 

How people see their own past is reflected and reinforced by how they deal with the landscape around them. The recollection of some narratives is facilitated by the retention of important elements in the landscape, and the forgetting of other narratives can coincide with the removal or alteration of built spaces. The importance of the monumental barrow landscapes constructed during the Bronze Age for the creation and remembrance of ideas about the past thus seems obvious. But how were these monuments made sense of during later periods, when new barrows were no longer being built? And how does their retention, re-use  or removal coincide with how settlements were removed or retained upon abandonment?

The project “A Curated Past” aims to understand the place of physical remnants of the past within the context of the period between 1600 – 1100 BC in the Netherlands and along the south-eastern coast of England. The period under study captures the very end of the Early Bronze Age period of large scale barrow construction across North Western Europe. The subsequent Middle Bronze Age instead gave rise to recognizable farmsteads and field-systems. Yet,  the older Bronze Age barrows are often reported to be incorporated within these later landscapes. The retention of these monumentalised structures within later field systems indicates that some ideas about the past remained significant, whilst there are indications that settlements were not abandoned in any way indicating that they remained important. When these actions are seen as ‘editing’ past narratives, acts of transformation and the allowing of decay can be understood as strategic choices working in line with specific conceptions of the past. Investigating the processes taking place upon and after abandonment therefore means investigating what kind of a reflection of the past was preferable, and what kind of a history apparently needed to be told.

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