Within archaeological studies, land tenure has been mainly studied from the viewpoint of ownership. A host of studies has argued about land ownership on the basis of the simple co-existence of artefacts on the landscape; other studies have tended to extrapolate land ownership from more indirect means. Particularly noteworthy is the tendency to portray land ownership as the driving force behind the emergence of social complexity, a primordial ingredient in the processes that led to the political and economic expansion of prehistoric societies. The association between people and land in all of these interpretive schemata is however less easy to detect analytically. Although various rubrics have been employed to identify such a connection – most notable among them the concepts of ‘cultures,’ ‘regions,’ or even ‘households’ – they take the links between land and people as a given and not as something that needs to be conceptually defined and empirically substantiated.
An Archaeology of Land Ownership demonstrates that the relationship between people and land in the past is first and foremost an analytical issue, and one that calls for clarification not only at the level of definition, but also methodological applicability. Bringing together an international roster of specialists, the essays in this volume call attention to the processes by which links to land are established, the various forms that such links take and how they can change through time, as well as their importance in helping to forge or dilute an understanding of community at various circumstances.
1. An Archaeology of Land Ownership: Introducing the Debate Despina Catapoti and Maria Relaki 2. Land Tenure, Social Relations and Social Landscapes Stella Souvatzi 3. Minoan Lands? Some Remarks on Land Ownership on Bronze Age Crete Simon Jusseret, Jan Driessen and Quentin Letesson 4. Where Mythical Space Lies: Land Ownership Versus Land Use in the Northern Bronze Age Jane Downes and Antonia Thomas 5. Pervasive Assumptions of Ownership: Land, Gender and Reproductive Narratives Maria Relaki 6. Land and People in Tribal Societies: Aspects of Land Possession in Oman Nikos Efstratiou and Efthymia Alphas 7. Ownership or Tenure? A Case Study of Tribal Land Use from the Cusp of Prehistory Moira Jackson and Ian W.G. Smith 8. Harnessing the Land: Pioneers, Perception, and Place in Early Modern British Columbia Jeff Oliver 9. Losing and Repossessing Land and Ancestral Landscapes: Archaeology and Land Reforms in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe Paul Mupira 10. Land, Power and Status in Material Culture Studies. A Case Study on Alienability and Inalienability of Land in Brazil Clarissa Sanfelice Rahmeier 11. Land Ownership and Rights of Use on Land in the South Italian Countryside: Ethnoarchaeological and Historical Perspectives Antoon C. Mientjes and Mark Pluciennik 12. To Own or to Share: The Crisis of the Past at the Onset of the 21st Century Despina Catapoti 13. Concluding Comment: Land, Life and the Dwelling Perspective John C. Barrett