Material Mnemonics: Everyday Memory in Prehistoric Europe

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How did ancient Europeans materialize memory? Material Mnemonics: Everyday Practices in Prehistoric Europe provides a fresh approach to the archaeological study of memory. Drawing on case studies from the British Isles, Scandinavia, central Europe, Greece, Italy, and the Iberian Peninsula that date from the Neolithic through the Iron Age, the books authors explore the implications of our understanding of the past when memory and mnemonic practices are placed in the center of cultural analyses. They discuss monument building, personal adornment, relic-making, mortuary rituals, the burning of bodies and houses, and the maintenance of domestic spaces and structures over long periods of time. Material Mnemonics engages with contemporary debates on the intersection of memory, identity, embodiment, and power, and challenges archaeologists to consider how materiality both provokes and constrains the mnemonic processes in everyday life.

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Overall, I found the volume a thought-provoking read, with several papers showcasing the real utility of memory studies in explaining social change and continuity. Material mnemonics was an aptly chosen title; mnemonic devices were not elegant theoretical constructions floating above material evidence but were grounded in it, emergent from it. This rapprochement of theory and data often seems a rarity in archaeological literature and should be celebrated. I suspect it will also lend the volume a wider readership; the papers are short on unexplained jargon yet reasonably self-reflexive and critical of modernist preconceptions when dealing with data.' (Katie Hall Archaeological Review from Cambridge)

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