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Meanings and Functions of Enclosed Places in the European Neolithic: A Contextual Approach to Cult, Ritual, and Religion



This chapter reevaluates theories and methodologies applied to the archaeology of religion stressing the symbolic meaningfulness of material culture, place, and landscape. In a case study—the Neolithic circular enclosure of Goseck in Germany—a contextual approach is used to highlight that ritual practices function both at a community and at an individual level, and as social and communicative acts. The chapter also demonstrates that ritual practice ought to be contextualized with the material culture and the place associated with it in order to better understand and theorize its complex meaning in prehistoric religious life.