Joachim Herrmann

Archaeological cultures and socio-economic areas

Reflections on the historical potency of archaeological research

Published: 1965-01-01 | DOI: 10.54799/BDFR1568


We had reached the point above in the analysis of the theory of archaeological culture where the problem of the continuity of historical, including ethnic, interpretation of archaeological cultures and historiography stood in the way as an oversized, theoretically unmastered obstacle. This was the occasion to examine the components that steered cultural development and to trace their role. They could be gained from the concept of culture itself and were found in the social confrontation with nature and in the internal social confrontation, i.e. in the developing social practice. The apparent autonomy of the development of archaeological cultures was revealed as the resultant of these two components. The representation of the smallest economic and social, and consequently probably also ethnic, units seemed to be most reliably possible by way of the settlement-archaeological-cultural analysis of groups circumscribed and shaped by natural space. Through archaeological-comparative research, archaeological cultures (cultural groups) can be recognised, which are built up from such smallest units. The problem of the historical interpretation of archaeological cultures came up against the barrier of continuity or discontinuity that cannot be explained by cultural autonomy. The methodologically justified solution to this problem, as well as the recording of historical processes within society, leads through socio-economic analysis. The representation of socio-economic areas has been regarded as a methodological tool. Socio-economic areas can be represented on the basis of comparative studies of groups of sources with socio-economic content. They are characterised by the interdependent commonality of economic management, social structure and - as far as recognisable - political forms of organisation.

How to Cite

Herrmann, Joachim. 1965. “Archaeological Cultures and Socio-Economic Areas: Reflections on the Historical Potency of Archaeological Research”. EAZ – Ethnographisch-Archaeologische Zeitschrift 6 (2):97-128.
The effect of the components n and s on cultural development. Attempt at a graphical representation. Figure: J. Herrmann.
The effect of the components n and s on cultural development. Attempt at a graphical representation. Figure: J. Herrmann.
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