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describe the cultural landscapes created by neolithic farming communities in ireland with reference to Aalens model of cultural landscape formation

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Introduction

The purpose of this essay is to describe the cultural landscapes created by Neolithic farming communities in Ireland with reference to Aalen's model of cultural landscape formation. In order to do so it is important to understand the following terms, Neolithic and landscape. The word Neolithic generally refers to a period in time around 4000-2000BC, also known as the New Stone Age with 'neo' meaning new and 'lithic' meaning stone. During this period the Irish landscape was altered greatly with the onset of agriculture and the domestication of animals. The Neolithic period brought with it the first major human intervention into the then densely wooded landscape. Migrant men and women became Ireland's very first farmers who cultivated the soil and constructed mighty burial tombs. The Neolithic era is a period were the Irish landscape saw the introduction of agriculture but also the continuing of hunting and gathering as a means of obtaining food.1 The landscape can be simply defined as an extensive area of rural scenery that can be looked upon from one single viewpoint. According to Cooney the concept of landscape "is a useful way to look at the linkages between the different aspects of material culture and changes that occur through time and space".2 The landscape can be looked upon as a place that is altered by both animals and humans and includes physical elements such as soil, water, rocks and air. Aalen's model of cultural landscape formation refers to the Irish landscape and how it has mirrored human activity over time and how it is a record of the ways the many different communities adjusted the then landscape to their habitat and adapted it to their needs. ...read more.

Middle

They are found in the West of Ireland with over 120 sites in Clare alone and approximately the same in Munster. 8 The following are examples of the most famous tombs that have survived from the Neolithic era situated in the Boyne Valley. The Megalithic Passage Tomb at Newgrange was built approximately 3200 BC. The mound covers an area of over one acre and is surrounded by 97 kerbstones. The mound consists of a 19 meter long inner passage that leads to a cross shaped chamber with a corbelled roof. It is estimated that the construction of the Passage Tomb at Newgrange would have taken a work force of 300 at least 20 years. Significantly Newgrange was built with a purpose. The sunrise on the 24th September sends a beam of light through the 'roof-box' to illuminate the rear chamber of the tomb. The Neolithic were therefore extremely intelligent individuals as the planning of Newgrange was done without any mathematical instruments and architectural props.9 This highlights the great dedication employed by the Neolithic people and shows how they had extremely complex religious beliefs and burial customs. Another great Neolithic mound exists at Knowth. The Mound was built over 5000 years ago after the construction of Newgrange and before the construction of Dowth. The site at Knowth is similar to that at Newgrange however it is not as significant. It is surrounded by 18 smaller mounds. Unlike Newgrange Knowth has two passageways with entrances on opposite sides, the western passage is 34 meters long and the eastern passage is 40 meters long and like Newgrange it has a cross shaped chamber.10 Dowth is mythically known as the "Fairy Mound of Darkness" and is not unlike Newgrange and Knowth. ...read more.

Conclusion

may have covered a large area their perspective would have been a local one.16 It is the relationship that the Neolithic settlers had with our landscape that allows us to reflect upon their settlement patterns. The many surviving megalithic burial tombs inform us that the landscape was altered greatly in order to construct such monstrosities. 1 Cooney, G. Landscapes of Neolithic Ireland. (2000, Dublin). 2 Cooney, G. Landscapes of Neolithic Ireland. (2000, Dublin). 3 Aalen,F.H.A., Whelan, K. & Stout, M. Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. (1997,Cork University Press). Pg4 4 Mitchell, F. & Ryan, M. Reading the Irish Landscape. (2001, TownHouse Dublin). Pg 155 5 Mitchell, F. & Ryan, M. Reading the Irish Landscape. (2001, TownHouse Dublin). Pg 155 6 Aalen,F.H.A., Whelan, K. & Stout, M. Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. (1997,Cork University Press). Pg 37 7 Aalen,F.H.A., Whelan, K. & Stout, M. Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. (1997,Cork University Press). Pg 33 8 Aalen,F.H.A., Whelan, K. & Stout, M. Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. (1997,Cork University Press). Pg 34 & 35 9 Retrieved on 10 February 2008 from: http://www.knowth.com/newgrange.htm 10Retrieved on 10 February 2008 from: http://www.knowth.com/knowth.htm 11Retrieved on 10 February 2008 from: http://www.knowth.com/dowth.htm 12 Aalen,F.H.A., Whelan, K. & Stout, M. Atlas of the Irish Rural Landscape. (1997,Cork University Press). Pg171 13 Mitchell, F. & Ryan, M. Reading the Irish Landscape. (2001, TownHouse Dublin). Pg 178 & 179 14 Mitchell, F. & Ryan, M. Reading the Irish Landscape. (2001, TownHouse Dublin). Pg 178 15 Mitchell, F. & Ryan, M. Reading the Irish Landscape. (2001, TownHouse Dublin). Pg 174 16 Cooney, G. Landscapes of Neolithic Ireland. (2000, Dublin). ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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