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A Dictionary of Archaeology

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the hypothesis and observation are linked, the extent to which a hypothesis is tested before being accepted as verified, and in the question of whether unverified statements may form a useful part of the scientific process. In its most extreme and limiting form, the POSITIVIST approach to truth-seeking recognizes only verified theories, closely tied to observations from the real world, as useful modes of explanation (see LOGICAL POSITIVISM). Many philosophers of science believe that FALSIFICATION better describes the process of assessing claims of ‘truth’. Arguably, neither concept is directly applicable. In the case of archaeology as a social science, where even the simplest statements are definitionally complex and dependent upon other untested (and untestable) premises. Instead, archaeologists use a variety of strategies to increase the plausibility and acceptability of the theories that they put forward.




vertical photographs see AERIAL


Victoria West Small town in the central Karoo, Cape Province, South Africa, which gave its name to two types of core (Victoria West I and II) associated with the manufacture of ACHEULEAN handaxes. They are a type of prepared core and generally restricted to areas of dolerite in South Africa.

C. van R. Lowe: ‘The evolution of the Levallois technique in South Africa’, Man, 37 (1945), 49–59.



Vietnam see ASIA 3

vihara Meeting hall within a Buddhist temple area.


Vila Nova de São Pedro (VNSP culture)

Fortified settlement site in the Tagus River valley in central Portugal which has given its name to a developed Copper Age culture in the region that


flourished from the very late 4th or early 3rd millennium BC until about 2000 BC. The VNSP culture is characterized by fortified settlements and the importation and production of ‘prestige’ goods. At the type-site a sub-rectangular thick-walled enclosure (externally c.30–40 m across), strengthened with ten semi-circular bastions, contains limited evidence of huts and pits; the structure is enclosed by two further defensive walls. Like the site of LOS MILLARES in Spain, Vila Nova de São Pedro has produced evidence of imported goods, including indications of directional trade in the form of ostrich egg-shell and ivory from North Africa; other items found at the site include BELL BEAKERS (from the later 3rd millennium), clay and stone plaques decorated with motifs such as rayed suns, various copper daggers and other artefacts made from copper.

H.N. Savory: ‘The cultural sequence at Vila Nova de São Pedro’, Madrider Mitteilungen 13 (1972), 23–37.


Villanovan culture Defined largely by the contents of the urnfields it produced, this early Italian Iron Age culture of the first half of the 1st millennium BC is recognized as a precursor of the Etruscan civilization. The culture was identified in the mid19th century from a cemetery of urns with cremations and inhumations dug up at Villanova, near Bologna, and similar urnfields have since been excavated from Bologna itself. The cemeteries are from various periods and have been divided into Villanovan I–IV. The urns are often simply placed in the earth, with or without a covering slab, but may also be contained within rough slab cists or, rarely, within a larger clay vessel. Elaborately decorated, the urns were often covered with a bowl or a pottery version of a helmet. The grave goods (including many items of beaten decorated bronze such as helmets, and fibulae) reveal connections with HALLSTATT Central Europe as well as other regions of Italy. Villanovan urnfields are found both north and south of the Apennines. The southern – and probably earlier – distribution approximates to the region of Etruria (Tuscany) and disappears with the emergence of the early Etruscan culture in the 8th century BC; the northern distribution remains distinct until the 6th century BC.

H. Hencken: Tarquinia, Villanovans and early Etruscans

(Cambridge, MA, 1968); L.H. Barfield: Northern Italy before Rome (London, 1971).


Villeneuve-Tolosane Large and complex Middle Neolithic site in Haute-Garonne, France,


associated with the CHASSÉEN complex. The site, over 30 ha in area, is linked with a series of interrupted ditches. Like the other major Chasséen

site in the region, SAINT-MICHEL-DU-TOUCH, the

site interior presents a rich array of Chasséen material and pits, but the most important structures are over 700–800 enigmatic cobbled areas. These fall into two distinct classes: round areas (typically 2 m diameter) or narrow sub-rectangular areas (typically 10 m × 2 m). They seem to have been created by first digging a pit, then layering it with wood and placing cobbles on top. The wood was then fired, leaving a layer of charcoal (in the case of the rectangular structures this is dense, with unburnt chunks of wood), and a layer of burnt cobbles perhaps 20 cm thick. The excavator, Méroc, interpreted these as the bases of huts (or fonds de cabanes). However, other possible functions include food processing or cooking. The site also has a well-pit, and a pit containing an estimated 50,000 snailshells.

J. Clottes et al.: ‘Le village chasséen de VilleneuveTolosane (Haute-Garonne), Fouilles 1978’, La Préhistoire du Quercy dans la contexte de Midi-Pyrénées

(Montauban–Cahors, 1979), 116–28; P. Bahn: ‘The Neolithic of the French Pyrenees’, Ancient France 6000–2000 ed. C. Scarre (Edinburgh, 1987), 116–28.


Vincˇa culture One of the principal Middle Neolithic to Eneolithic cultures of eastern Europe (east Yugoslavia, south Hungary, west Romania), characterized by a rich ceramic tradition of dark burnished, knobbed and fluted ware. The Vincˇa culture offers some of the earliest evidence in Europe of copper metallurgy. Vincˇa pottery is distinct from other major Neolithic pottery traditions in southeast Europe in being unpainted. Vincˇa potters also produced an abundance of striking anthropomorphic and zoomorphic figurines and vessel lids; literally thousands of these figures were discovered at the type site of Vincˇa-Belo Brdo itself, on the banks of the Danube near Belgrade, Serbia. The tell comprised at least nine stratified layers of Vincˇa material, lying over an earlier layer of STARCˇEVO material (later layers included evidence of Bronze Age BADEN and later Iron Age LA TÈNE occupations). The excavations of the tell by Miloje Vasic from 1908 remain central to any understanding of Vincˇa culture, although the lack of precise stratigraphic control has greatly complicated the definition of the cultural phases (new excavations by M. Garas¸anin and D. Srejovic began in 1978).

The common division of the Vincˇa material into

stages A–E is based largely on the typology of pottery from Vincˇa–Belo Brdo; the chronological significance of this scheme and the extent to which it can be applied to other Vincˇa sites is only slowly becoming clear. (For a selection of Vincˇa radiocarbon dates and a map of principal sites, see Srejovic 1988, 45–9 and discussion in Chapman 1981, p.18 ff). The earlier Vincˇa sequence, in which copper is very rare, is often called the Vincˇa-Tordos phase (c.5400–4800 BC), after the Transylvanian site of Tordos; the later sequence, marked by taller forms of pottery, heavy production of anthropomorphic lids and four-legged vases, and the substantial development of metallurgy, is called the Vancˇa-Plocˇnik (c.4800–4500 BC), after the settlement of Plocˇnik in Serbia – which yielded a fine early hoard of 13 chisels or axes.

There have been attempts in the past to link the Vincˇa to Troy 1, now set aside for chronological

reasons; the link with Mesopotamia (see ˇ ˇ )


is also now discounted, although some recent researchers look to Anatolia for the genesis of certain elements of the culture. Others, however, have begun to stress the possibility of a local origin, and even an evolution from the preceding Starcˇevo culture.

M. Vasic: Preistoriska Vincˇa I–IV, 4 vols (Belgrade, 1932, 1936); N. Tasic: Neolitska Plastika (Belgrade, 1973); V. Dumitrescu: The Neolithic settlement at Rast, BAR IS 72 (Oxford, 1980) [site report on Vincˇa settlement; short discussion of Vincˇa chronology, p.107]; J.C. Chapman: The Vincˇa culture of south-east Europe: studies in chronology, economy and society, BAR IS 117, 2 vols (Oxford, 1981); D. Srejovic, ed.: The Neolithic of Serbia: archaeological research 1948–88 (Belgrade, 1988).


visual display of data The visual display of archaeological data is often recommended,


the grounds that ‘one picture is worth a thousand words’. However, there is a danger, in that while the human eye is probably better at seeing patterns in graphics than in tables, it is also good at creating patterns where none exist. Common techniques for displaying the values of a single variable are bar and pie charts, historgrams, and frequency polygons and curves. For two variables, SCATTERGRAMS and bivariate histograms can be used. There are pitfalls in producing such displays; rules for avoiding them are given by Tufte (1983). See also GIS.

J.E. Doran and F.R. Hodson: Mathematics and computers in archaeology (Edinburgh, 1975), 115–34; E.R. Tufte: The visual display of quantitative information (Cheshire, CT, 1983); S. Shennan: Quantifying archaeology (Edinburgh,


1988), 22–31, 45–6; M. Fletcher and G.R. Lock: Digging numbers (Oxford, 1991), 13–30.


Vix Celtic princely tomb in the Seine Valley, just below the contemporary hillfort of

in eastern France. Dated to c.480 BC (Hallstatt D), the massive cairn, originally c.42 m in diameter, contained an inhumation with an extraordinary series of imported and locally manufactured grave goods. Among these were a giant (1.64 m high) crater and Black Figure ware of Greek manufacture, a gold ‘diadem’ decorated with winged horses, bronze vessels and a dismantled four-wheeled chariot. Vix is one of the richest of a group of graves in eastern France, Switzerland and southern Germany (e.g. Eberdingen-HOCHDORF), many of which occur near fortified sites controlling trade routes south to the Mediterranean or east to the Alpine passes. Imported items such as those found at Vix influenced CELTIC ART of the subsequent LA TÈNE period.

R. Joffroy: Vix et ses trésors (Paris, 1979); J.-P. Mohen et al.: Trésors des Princes Celtes, exh. cat. (Paris, 1987).



Voloshski-Vassil’evka Group of Mesolithic cemeteries on the bank of the River Dniepr south of the town of Dniepropetrovsk (Ukraine). Voloshski cemetery was excavated by O.V. Bodyanski and V.N. Danilenko. In the western part (13 graves), the dead were buried in a contracted posture on their right sides, with their heads directed to the south. The eastern part (6 graves) reveals no distinct pattern; the dead were buried in a contracted posture on their backs, or stomachs, or in an extended posture on their backs. The burial inventory consisted of numerous flint implements, including backed bladelets, end-scrapers, burins, points and flakes. An arrowhead was found embedded in the cervical vertebra of one skeleton. Many of the graves in Vasil’evka-3 cemetery, excavated by D.Ya. Telgin, also contained flint implements (mostly arrowheads), and again arrowheads were found in the bones of the dead – one in a rib and another in a spine.

V.N. Danilenko: ‘Vološskii epipalaeolithicˇeskii mogilnik’ [The Voloshkski epipalaeolithic cemetery], Sovetskaja etnografija 3 (1955), 56–61; D.Ya. Telegin: Mezolitichni pam’jatki Ukrainy [Mesolithic sites of the Ukraine] (Kiev, 1981).



Vorbasse Medieval site in central Jutland, the excavations of which – like those of Feddersen Wierde in West Germany (Haarnagel 1979) or Wijster (van Es 1967) – aimed to expose the entire settlement, using machinery. In this case an area of 260,000 m² was uncovered, showing how a village founded in the 1st century BC passed through eight stages before being deserted in the 11th century AD. Of special interest is the process by which the 20 dwellings of the later Roman period were transformed into fenced magnate farms with subsidiary buildings in the Viking age. In the 11th century the site of the village was transferred to the place that it presently occupies.

W.A. van Es: ‘Wijster: a native village beyond the imperial frontier’, Palaeohistoria 11 (1967); W. Haarnagel: Die Grabung Feddersen Wierde: Methode, Hausbau, Siedlungs – und Wirtschaftsformen sowie Sozialstruktur (Wiesbaden, 1979); S. Hvass: ‘Rural settlements in Denmark in the first millennium AD’, The birth of Europe, ed. K. Randsborg (Rome, 1989), 91–9.


Vucˇedol culture Central European culture of c.3000 to 2200 BC, defined by the Croatian type-site of Vucˇedol on the Danube. Vucˇedol tell settlements typically contain tightly packed wood-lattice and clay houses with large storage/refuse pits. Copperworking is well-developed, and two-piece moulds were used extensively for tools and axes (often fan-shaped). The fine Vucˇ edol pottery is heavily decorated, typically with white encrusted geometric patterns and motifs (sun, cross etc.) on a black ground. One of the most famous Vucˇedol artefacts is a decorated dove-shaped ritual vessel recovered from Vucˇ edol itself. Many small clay female figurines were also produced, as well as certain horn-shaped ‘altars’. While based on raising cattle and growing cereal, the economy retained a strong hunting and fishing component.

R.R. Schmidt: Die Burg Vucˇedol (Zagreb, 1945); Vucˇedol: trece tisucljece p.n.e. [Vucˇedol: three thousand years BC] (Zagreb, 1988) [exh. cat. with full English trans.].


Vumba Commoner settlement of the early Khami period (c.AD1450–1830) near Francistown in northeast Botswana. The settlement followed the


found a surprising number of grain-bin supports – 108 in all. Using k-means CLUSTER ANALYSIS, she was able to distinguish subdivisions corresponding to compounds of polygamous family units, such as a senior man and his wives and children, and his


brothers or sons with their families. Smaller subdivisions suggest that each adult owned their own set of granaries. According to Van Waarden’s reconstruction, the settlement faced west, and the senior man lived at the back with junior households to his left and right. Some 50 head of cattle and 40 small stock could have been kept in the two central byres, while the grain-bins had a storage capacity of

200 m³. These dual subsistence spheres characterized Eastern Bantu speaking societies throughout the Iron Age.

C. Van Waarden: ‘The granaries of Vumba: structural interpretation of a Khami period commoner site’, JAA 8 (1989), 131–57.



Wadi Amud Valley near the Sea of Galilee in Israel, where several cave sites of the MOUSTERIAN and Emiran periods have been excavated. The Upper Palaeolithic material from Emireh Cave provided the basis for the Emiran period, while Amud Cave itself (the typesite for the Amudian, or preAurignacian, blade industry) contained several NEANDERTHAL skeletons and the nearby Zuttiya Cave included a fragment of a skull which perhaps also derived from a Neanderthal.

M. Suzuki and F. Takai: The Amud man and his cave

(Tokyo, 1970).


Wadi el-Hudi A cluster of Egyptian amethyst quarrying and gold mining sites located 35 km southeast of Aswan and dating from the early Middle Kingdom (c.2100 BC) to the Roman period. The surviving traces of the Middle Kingdom phase of exploitation include a pair of amethyst quarries associated with a hill-top settlement and an unusual rectangular drystone fortress, as well as a large number of rock-drawings and stelae bearing commemorative hieroglyphic inscriptions left behind by the various quarrying expeditions.

A. Fakhry: The inscriptions of the amethyst quarries at Wadi el-Hudi (Cairo, 1952); A.I. Sadek: Wadi el-Hudi: the amethyst mining inscriptions, 2 vols (Warminster, 1980–5); I. Shaw and R. Jameson: ‘Amethyst mining in the Eastern Desert: a preliminary survey at Wadi el-Hudi’, JEA 79 (1993), 81–97.


Wadi Kubbaniya Group of Palaeolithic sites near Aswan where many grindstones have been discovered, suggesting that cereal cultivation was taking place at a very early period in Egyptian prehistory (c.18,000 BP). The subsistence pattern at Wadi Kubbaniya appears to have combined plant cultivation with hunting and gathering, judging from the fact that the rest of the lithics are similar to those employed at HALFAN and late EDFUAN encampments of roughly the same period.

F. Wendorf et al.: Loaves and fishes: the prehistory of Wadi Kubbaniya (Dallas, 1980).


Wadi el-Natuf see NATUFIAN

Wang-ch’eng-kang (Wangchenggang) The first site in China at which the remains of a walled city datable as early as the Middle–Late LUNGSHAN period (c.2500–1700 BC) were discovered. The ruins in fact comprise two cities, one to the east (which is the better preserved) and remnants of the western wall of a second to the west. The name of the site is the one that was given to the mound itself, which was situated close to the village of Pa-fang- ts’un, about 11 km from Teng-feng-hsien, in western Ho-nan province.

The area is rich in archaeological remains, mainly of the Ho-nan Lung-shan culture, which in places is underlaid by a P’EL-LI-KANG horizon, while a large YANG-SHAO site is also located in the vicinity. Only parts of the western wall, and small parts of the northern and southern walls have survived, owing to changes of the river Wu-tu-ho. In most cases, the existence of the walls is indicated simply by the preservation of rammed earth foundation ditches: the four walls of the city originally formed a square which enclosed an area of approximately 10,000 sq. m, with sides of about 90 cm. The rammed earth (hang-t’u) foundations of a large building within the walled enclosure have been assigned to Period II of the site and radiocarbondated to c.2455 BC, while the strata relating to Periods III and IV have yielded radiocarbon dates of c.2280 and 1900 BC respectively. A bronze fragment of part of a container found in an ash-pit of Period IV level is presently the earliest example of a bronze container reported to date in China. Whether actual indications of foundry activities in this pre-Shang Bronze Age site will come to light is uncertain in view of the highly eroded nature of the general site-area.

Anon.: Teng-feng Wang-ch’eng-kang yu Yang-ch’eng

[Wang-ch’eng-kang and Yank-ch’eng of Teng-feng]


(Peking, 1992); N. Barnard: ‘Thoughts on the emergence of metallurgy in pre-Shang and Early Shang China and a technical appraisal of relevant bronze artefacts of the time’, BMM, Sendai 19 (1993), 3–48.


Wareham Down see OVERTON DOWN

Warka see URUK

Washshukanni see MITANNI

al-Wasit Islamic-period city in southeastern Iraq which was founded in c.AD 702–5 by al-Hajjaj, the Umayyads’ governor of the East (al-Mashriq), to serve as the centre of administration for the entire Islamic east. It is an extensive area of low mounds, dominated by an ornate Seljuq-period gateway in baked brick. It is unusual among the earliest Islamic urban foundations in Iraq in that it is free of present occupation, in contrast to AL-KUFA and al-Basra. Excavations began in 1936 and parts of the mosque were cleared, the first version of which proved to be the original mosque of al-Hajjaj with two later mosques built on top of it. These later mosques had their qibla walls on a different orientation to that of the first, so that they faced Mecca. The first mosque at al-Wasit lacked a mihrâb (prayer niche), thus confirming the textual evidence that recessed mihrâbs were not introduced until 707–9. The first mosque was also excellent evidence that the qibla (direction of Mecca) in early mosques was not calculated in the same manner as in later mosques. Emphasis on the mosque and the early period by the excavators overshadows the equally interesting issue of the subsequent evolution of al-Wasit and its longevity as a town down to the 13th century when Iraq was devastated by the Mongols.

F. Safar: Wâsit: the sixth season’s excavation (Cairo, 1945); K.A.C. Creswell: Early Muslim architecture I/1 (Oxford, 1969), 132–8.


wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence


wave of advance Theoretical model that attempted to describe the spread of agriculture across Europe. The model was first proposed by Ammerman (an archaeologist) and Cavalli-Sforza (a geneticist) in 1971, after they discovered that a consistent ‘rate of spread’ measurement could be

obtained by plotting radiocarbon dates from the earliest known cereal farming sites across a map of Europe. This ‘rate spread’ analysis has since been much refined (1973, 1984), but the basic finding, that agriculture advanced at a rate of approximately one kilometre per year (25 km per generation) remains.

Ammerman and Cavalli-Sforza sought to explain this discovery by stating that if early agriculture led to a growth in population, and if this population growth led to small-scale migratory activity on the agricultural frontier, then it could be shown mathematically that a ‘wave of population expansion will ensue and progress at a constant radial rate’ (1984: 61). In an ‘initial test’ Ammerman and CavalliSforza have compared their observed rate of spread against this ‘wave of advance model’, with the allimportant variables of the model calculated according to ethnographic data on likely rates of population growth and types of migratory activity. The results suggested that the model is a feasible explanation for the observed data, but, as with so many other archaeological models, the variables are such that it is impossible to prove that it is the answer.

The authors of the ‘wave of advance’ model do not insist that it provides a universal explanation for the spread of agriculture. As they admit, the observed rate of spread is much patchier than the model allows, particularly in the western Mediterranean; the idea of a single mechanism of spread simply does not fit all the regional archaeological evidence, as summarized in Whittle (1994). Instead, the model seems most likely to be a useful description of the spread of agriculture during certain phases of the Linearbandkeramik expansion in some areas of temperate Europe.

A.J. Ammerman and L.L. Cavalli-Sforza, ‘A population model for the diffusion of early farming in Europe’, The explanation of culture change (London, 1973), 343–57;

––––: The Neolithic transition and the genetics of population in Europe (Princeton, 1984); A. Whittle: ‘The First Farmers’, The Oxford illustrated prehistory of Europe, ed. B. Cunliffe (Oxford, 1994), 136–66.




were-jaguar Anthropomorphic creature depicted in the OLMEC art of Mesoamerica, which has an infantile human face combined with animal characteristics such as fangs and paws. The animal represented is usually thought to be a jaguar,

although crocodilian creatures (e.g. caimans) and toads have also been suggested.

P.T. Furst: ‘The Olmec were-jaguar motif in the light of ethnographic reality’, Dumbarton Oaks conference on the Olmec, ed. E.P. Benson (Washington, D.C., 1968), 143–78.


Wessex culture Bronze Age cultural complex defined by a regional group of round barrow burials in southern Britain, as described by Stuart Piggott in his classic account of 1938. The ‘Wessex culture’ is characterized by a series of burials equipped with finely made gold, jet and amber ornaments, copper and bronze daggers, polished maceheads etc.

– though these rich burials form only a small minority of the whole set of barrows. Many of the richest burials occur in Wiltshire, but ‘Wessex-type’ graves are scattered over southern Britain (e.g. the gold cup found at Rillaton, Cornwall, or the amber cup from Hove, Sussex).

The Wessex burials are often divided into two types. In the earlier and richer group, termed Wessex I or the Bush Barrow group, burials tend to be inhumations, with some cremations, and the daggers are the Armorico-British style; in the later Wessex II period cremation is predominant and the daggers are of the Camerton-Snowhill type.

The ‘Wessex culture’ continues to fascinate prehistorians for two major reasons. Firstly, it is the most dramatic manifestation of the fundamental change in burial rites that took place between the late 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC, in which the earlier, supposedly communal, burial tradition of the Neolithic gave way to richly equipped individual burials – a development which is often assumed to mirror a change in social organization. Secondly, certain of the grave-goods suggest that the Wessex elite maintained direct or indirect links with other elite groups on the continent. There is little doubt over the links with Brittany – demonstrated by the use of minute gold pins to decorate the pommels of daggers from KERNONEN, Brittany, and BUSH BARROW, Wiltshire, for instance – and perhaps Central Europe. However, there has been a continuing controversy over whether such artefacts as the ‘staff’ mounts found at Bush Barrow (paralleled by examples from the Shaft Graves of MYCENAE) and the faience beads (or at least, their technique of manufacture) prove a link with the Mycenaean civilization of Greece; in one of the more dramatic revisions prompted by radiocarbon dating, Renfrew (1968) attempted to prove that Wessex pre-dated Mycenae, although his argument


that stylistic links are anyway of little relevance in explaining the genesis of the ‘Wessex culture’ is perhaps more significant.

S. Piggot, ‘The Early Bronze Age in Wessex’, PPS 4 (1938), 52–106; C. Renfrew: ‘Wessex without Mycenae’,

Annual of the British School at Athens 63 (1968), 277–85’ C. Burgess, The Age of Stonehenge (London, 1980); A.F. Harding: The Mycenaeans and Europe (London, 1984).


Western Chou (Hsi-Chou; Xizhou) Name applied to the first half of the Chinese Chou dynasty comprising a dozen rulers. Originally Chou was located in the present-day CHOU-YÜAN area, but in 1122 BC (according to the traditional literature) Wu Wang of Chou subjugated the SHANG city-state and established Chou’s hegemony over most of the then ‘civilized’ area (as contrasted to the ‘barbarian’ regions). The traditional literature also suggests that the Western Chou administrative system operated from its inception very much along the lines of Western feudalism, allowing the more or less centrally situated Chou (the ROYAL DOMAIN) to maintain an effective but often uneasy hold over the rulers of the surrounding princely states (i.e. the Chu-hou). The latter were required to undergo formal investiture by the Chou kings upon their hereditary assumption to the feudal title and associated territories: this was an elaborate ceremony, regarding which many details are recorded among scores of contemporary bronze inscriptions, marking the investitures along with details of the royal commands issued to the Chou-hou.

There were continual incursions from ‘barbarian’ peoples, such as the Ti, Jung and YI, who were scattered in the surrounding regions. Military expeditions were frequently launched against these ‘tribes’ to whom reference is often found both in the traditional literature and in the inscriptions on bronze vessels. Traditionally, it is considered that the shift of the Royal Domain to the east, near Loyang, was due to the increasing severity of barbarian attacks. The large number of storage-pit burials of bronze vessels and other artefacts in the Fu-feng and Ch’i-shan sites excavated in recent decades would surely seem to confirm this.

Ch’i Ssu-ho: ‘Chou-tai hsi-ming-li k’ao’ [Researches into the investure ceremony of the Chou period], YCHP 23 (1947), 197–226; ––––: ‘A comparison between Chinese and European feudal institutions’, YJSS 4 (1948), 1–13; H.G. Creel: The origins of statecraft in China (Chicago, 1970); N. Barnard: ‘The Nieh Ling Yi’, JICS 9 (1978), 585–628; E.L. Shaughnessy: Sources of Western Zhou history: inscribed bronze vessels (Berkeley, 1991).



West Kennet Early Neolithic drystone and megalithic tomb of the SEVERN-COTSWOLD type located near the later stone circle of AVEBURY in Wiltshire, England. The trapezoidal earth and chalk mound is over 100 m long, heaped up from flanking ditches. The large gallery, giving access to four transept chambers and a terminal chamber, is entered through an unusually impressive concave blocking facade. The tomb was used for collective burial over many centuries: the skeletons found within the tomb were largely disarticulated and had been much rearranged, for example with longbones stacked together and fingerbones placed in the crevices of the walling. The fact that fewer skulls were found in the tomb than is suggested by the count of other types of bones led researchers to speculate that they may have been removed as part of ancestor rituals. The tomb was probably built around 3300 BC in roughly the same period that the causewayed camp of WINDMILL HILL was in use, and finally backfilled with rubble after a last burial some time after 2500 BC; the final deposits contained BEAKER pottery.

S. Piggot: The West Kennet Long Barrow: excavations 1955–6 (London, 1962).


West Turkana Region to the west of Lake Turkana (Rudolf) in northern Kenya where important remains of early hominids have been discovered. Although West Turkana has produced less Stone Age fossils and artefacts than sites to the east and north of the lake, such as KOOBI FORA and OMO, an important example of the robust australopithecine (AUSTRALOPITHECUS boisei) was discovered by Kamoya Kimeu, Alan Walker and Richard Leakey. This hominid has been dated to about 2.5 million years ago, i.e. rather earlier than the ‘Zinjanthropus’ type-specimen from OLDUVAI in Tanzania. The most spectacular find in the region, however, is the most complete specimen of HOMO ERECTUS yet discovered, dating to some 1.5 million years ago. The West Turkana example is unusually revealing with regard to the body, limbs, locomotion and manipulatory potential of Homo erectus, which was previously represented largely by skulls in isolation. Pliocene and Miocene fossils are also being recovered from the region, as at


Y. Coppens et al., eds: Earliest man and environments in the Lake Rudolf basin (Chicago, 1976); J. Reader: Missing links: the hunt for earliest man, 2nd edn (London, 1988).


Wharram Percy Deserted English medieval village in the North Yorkshire Wolds with evidence of continuous settlement from Roman times until the 20th century. Excavations began in 1952 and continued until 1990. The excavators, Maurice Beresford and John Hurst, experimented with open-area investigations of the earthworks as opposed to trenches, setting a methodological standard for the archaeology of medieval sites. The reconstruction of the village topography, shifting around within the narrow confines of the valley, from Early Anglo-Saxon times, has made Wharram the type-site for post-Roman village formation in England, and a model for such approaches in Europe.

J.G. Hurst: Wharram, a study of settlement on the Yorkshire Wolds 1 (London, 1979); ––––: ‘The Wharram research project: results to 1983’, Medieval Archaeology 28 (1984), 77–111.


White Temple see URUK; ZIGGURAT

wiggle matching Technique based on highprecision RADIOCARBON DATING of a set of samples, the time intervals between which are known (e.g. adjacent groups of 10–20 tree rings): typically five dates are needed. The idea is to replicate a part of the radiocarbon calibration curve which can be fixed in calendar time by matching it to the master calibration curve. Statistical techniques are used to determine the best fit. If the master curve is sufficiently detailed at the time in question, the sample can be dated to within about ten ‘calendar years’. Tree rings are ideal for wiggle matching (but the relationship of the rings dated to the bark and thus to the time of felling must be


CHRONOLOGY). The technique has also been used on peat and lake sediments, where the deposition rate can be estimated.

G.W. Pearson: ‘Precise calendrical dating of known growth period samples using a ‘curve fitting’ technique’, Radiocarbon 28 (1986) 292–9.


Willendorf see ‘VENUS’ FIGURINES

Wilton Somewhat outmoded term applied (from the 1920s onwards) to Late Stone Age industries with microlithic tendencies in the savanna regions of eastern and southern Africa during the Holocene. The name Wilton derives from the South African


recent decades, following the appreciation of greater regional and environmental diversity and the application of more sophisticated archaeological analyses (as well as the reaction against classification based on particular tool-types or sets), the term has lost much of its currency. Some of the late occurrences broadly labelled ‘Wilton’ in the East African highlands may overlap in time with the beginnings of pastoralism and even the use of iron, perhaps representing a late continuation of ‘archaic’ huntergatherer ways of living.

J.D. Clark: The prehistory of Africa (London, 1970), ch 5; J. Deacon: ‘Wilton – a re-assessment after fifty years’, SAAB 27 (1972), 10–48.


Wilton Large Rockshelter Stone Age site near Alicedale in the eastern Cape, South Africa. This is the type-site of the WILTON industry (see above), which was adopted in 1929 to replace the term ‘pygmy culture’ (on account of small convex scrapers and small backed pieces). In 1966–7, the site was re-excavated by J. Deacon, who, following D.L. Clarke’s ontogenetic model, identified Formative, Climax, Post-Climax, and Death/Birth phases in the succession, with higher frequencies of small backed pieces (segments and backed blades) characterizing the Climax phase. A ‘pre-Wilton’ industry at the base of the succession is attributed to the ALBANY INDUSTRY. Interestingly, while the industry was named after this site (in the Albany District) the industry actually received its definition at Nelson Bay Cave, 300 km to the southeast.

J. Deacon: ‘Wilton: an assessment after fifty years’, SAAB 27 (1972), 10–48.


Winchester see OLD MINSTER

Windmill Hill Neolithic site in Wiltshire, southern England, situated close to the later henge monument of AVEBURY. It is important as the

archetypal CAUSEWAYED ENCLOSURE, an enig-

matic class of monuments built in the early Neolithic in Britain that consist of concentric circuits of interrupted ditches. At Windmill Hill, a substantial portion of the three concentric ditch circuits and interior (covering 9.6 ha in total) have been excavated. The outermost ditch is the largest (up to 3 m deep originally), and seems to have been in use longest – radiocarbon dating provides a calendar date of the end of the 4th millennium BC,


but this may be relatively late in the history of the site. The two inner ditches contain some evidence for the ceremonial disposal of food, and the site as a whole yielded evidence for well over 1000 pottery vessels. Some of the pottery came originally from some distance away (Somerset and Cornwall), while the stone used in tools found at the site originated from an unusually wide range of sources (including material from Cornwall, from GREAT LANGDALE in Cumbria, and from Craig Lwyd in Wales). There is some evidence that animal bones and pottery were deliberately placed in the ditches, rather than being discarded; the faunal remains are dominated by domestic cattle bones, with sheep and some pig, but also include a few wild animals. All this has led to suggestions that the site acted as a ceremonial centre for rituals, and perhaps as a node for exchange systems across Neolithic Britain.

I.F. Smith: Windmill Hill and Avebury – excavations by Alexander Keiller 1925–39 (Cambridge, 1965).



Wonderwerk Cave Very large cave 40 km south of Kuruman, northern Cape, South Africa, which was the subject of several investigations from 1943 onwards. The cave contains a very full sequence from ACHEULEAN of Middle Pleistocene age to Late Holocene, including the historical period. The large size of the cave (140 m deep, 17 m wide, 3.7–7.0 m high), and an early history of disturbance from guano digging have influenced the placing of cuttings, such that there are horizontal gaps in a demonstrably complex stratigraphy. Fauna is well preserved throughout, and plant remains variably so. There is compelling evidence of controlled use of fire from the Middle Pleistocene, and there are indications of LEVALLOIS technique in the later Acheulean. Engraved stone tablets occur from around 12,500 uncal BP. Environmental evidence points to changes in both temperature and rainfall within the past 12 millennia.

K.W. Butzer: ‘Archaeology and Quaternary environment in the interior of southern Africa’, Southern African prehistory and palaeoenvironments, ed. R.G. Klein (Rotterdam, 1984), 1–64; P.B. Beaumont: ‘Wonderwerk Cave’, Guide to archaeological sites in the northern Cape, ed. P.B. Beaumont and D. Morris (Kimberley, 1990), 101–36.


Woodland Term referring to both a time period and a tradition in eastern North American pre-



history. The Woodland period extends from c.1000 BC to AD 900, preceded by the Archaic and followed by the Late Prehistoric; it is commonly subdivided into Early (c.1000–200 BC), Middle (c.200 BCAD 400) and Late (c.AD 400–900) subperiods, however the dates assigned to these phases vary considerably. The Woodland tradition includes a wide variety of prehistoric cultures that share a number of traits including the construction of burial mounds, the production of ceramic vessels, and the cultivation of native and tropical plants. In the southeastern and midwestern United States, the Woodland tradition is replaced by the MISSISSIPPIAN tradition (c.AD 900–1600). In the northeast, the Woodland tradition continues up to the time of European contact.

J. Griffin: ‘Eastern North American archaeology: a summary’, Science 156 (1967), 175–91; J. Stoltman: ‘Temporal models in prehistory: an example from Eastern North America’, Current Anthropology 19 (1978), 703–46.


world systems theory Theoretical approach involving the FUNCTIONALIST study of spatial systems across the entire world, with the aim of understanding the ways in which different cultural entities in the past and present were/are linked via processes of interaction and exchange. It makes use of subsidiary concepts such as CORE-PERIPHERY MODELS’, whereby dominant cultures at the core or centre of regions are supplied with goods and labour by more peripheral cultures (see Rowlands et al. 1987).

The approach was first developed by Immanuel Wallerstein in the early 1970s, as an attempt to understand the origins and rise of capitalism. He argued that world economies are intrinsically ephemeral and unstable, but the capitalist system, which has lasted for about half a millennium, is an outstanding exception. Wallerstein’s ideas emerged partly from the ideas of the Belgian economist Ernst Mandel regarding the essentially boom-bust nature of capitalist economies, partly from the ANNALES SCHOOL (with its emphasis on the observation of social change over long periods of time), and partly from MARXISM (particularly the so-called ‘dependence theory’, i.e. the two-way economic links between first-, secondand third-world nations).

The great benefit of the world systems approach, compared with other versions of

is the fact that it avoids falling into the trap of treating a single culture or region as if it were an isolated or closed system, emphasizing instead that all cultures are affected not only by their immediate

environmental context but also by a wide network of cultural groupings.

Many American prehistorians adopted the world systems approach in the 1980s, but it has probably been used to best effect in the case of sites or cultures dating to the historical period (e.g. Paynter 1985, a study of the history of Connecticut Valley, Massachusetts). Philip Kohl, making use of the theory as a basis for the study of the process of state formation in western Asia, stresses that world systems in ancient times were not the same as those that have prevailed in more recent times. Whereas Wallerstein relies on economic factors, particularly the movement of labour, in his definitions of core or peripheral cultures, many prehistoric coreperiphery systems may have been based on other factors such as religion or ideology. Another flaw in the approach is that it emphasizes the units within the system (i.e. the cores, peripheries etc.) but cannot satisfactorily explain or clarify the relations between them.

I. Wallerstein: The modern world-system, 2 vols (New York, 1974–80); R.E. Blanton, S.A. Kowalewski, G. Feinman and J. Appel: Ancient Mesoamerica: a comparison of change in three regions (Cambridge, 1981); R. Paynter: ‘Surplus flow between frontiers and homelands’, Archaeology of frontiers and boundaries, ed. S.W. Green and S. Perlman (Orlando, 1985), 125–37; P.L. Kohl: ‘The ancient economy, transferable technologies, and the Bronze Age world system: a view from the northwestern frontier of the Ancient Near East’, Centre and periphery in the ancient world, ed. M.J. Rowlands and M.T. Larsen (Cambridge, 1987), 13–24; M. Rowlands, M. Larsen and K. Kristiansen, eds: Centre and periphery in the ancient world

(Cambridge, 1987).


Wu Ancient state in China, which flourished during the first half of the 1st millennium BC; like YÜEH, it was regarded by the MIDDLE STATES as merely a barbarian region, although the rulers of both states used the Chinese title for ‘king’. The site of the capital of Wu is located near modern Suchou, Chiang-su. Despite the suggestion that Wu was a barbaric region, inscribed bronzes from the state of Ts’ai (excavated at Shou-hsien in 1995, see TS’AI HOU LUAN TOMB) indicate that there was intermarriage between the princely family of Ts’ai and the royal family of Wu c.457 BC. This was some 15 years following the traditional records of the fall of Wu and its subjection to Yüeh (472 BC). Yüeh itself eventually succumbed to the kingdom of CH’U in 334 BC. There is a growing amount of archaeological information that not only supplements the paucity of data in the traditional literature con-