At this point, my presentation comes to a close, which
is not to say that this page would be its ending. Every link on this
page will bring you back straight into the middle of this
Suggestions for future research
My work is intended to stimulate future research in a variety of ways. Here
are some tentative suggestions:
Archaeologists who are interested in interpreting ancient monuments may want
to ask some of the following questions in their future work:
What future concepts are implied in monument building? How and why do monuments
differ in their permanence and scale?
What evidence from different periods is present at monuments? How diverse
can interpretations of a single monument be at different times, and what
will they necessarily have in common? To what extent do previous interpretations
inform our current views?
What past concepts are implied in monument interpretations and re-uses? Is
there a special class of archaeological sites of memory
and timemarks? How do cultural memory and history
culture relate to specific monuments?
What is the character of archaeology and its role in our society vis-à-vis
alternative interpretations of both the past and monuments?
Archaeologists, who are interested in the meanings of the distant past and
ancient artefacts, may want to study further and discuss the significance
of different meanings for particular periods or types
of objects; and the relations of these meanings to other factors such as
the material texture, size, and shape, or spiritual factors present, or to
certain commercial, emotional, aesthetic, and political parameters.
Archaeologists working on Mecklenburg-Vorpommern may
want to study in more detail the megaliths
described, the associated evidence from later
prehistoric and historic periods, or some of the other examples and
case-studies to which I have referred.
All archaeologists may want to explore further the potentials of
hypermedia documents for expressing complex
interrelations, and the wider implications of making sense by making
Possible wider implications of my argument
Apart from the immediate implication of my gaining a higher academic degree
and starting an academic career, there are potentially various wider implications
of my work:
I am suggesting that the meanings of megaliths in
later prehistoric Mecklenburg-Vorpommern were manifold. This point may also
be applied to other periods and areas. It would follow that the meanings
given by academic archaeology and heritage management of our age to ancient
monuments are not necessarily more appropriate or more relevant than other
meanings. I believe that professional archaeologists ought to embrace and
work for all approaches to the distant past and its remains, rather than
restrict their scope and ambitions to the interest of a few.
I have proposed that cultural memory and
history culture be considered as useful concepts for
understanding the meanings and significances of ancient monuments such as
megaliths in later prehistoric Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. The usefulness of
these concepts may extend also to other historic or present periods and areas.
As a consequence, there is no need to restrain creativity and initiative
in dealing with ancient monuments today, because they would have certain
inherent meanings derived from the past which must be preserved for the future.
It is up to everyone present to redefine the meaning and significance of
ancient monuments. (This work does not reveal truths of the past, but is
itself an attempt to give meaning to ancient monuments in the present.)
I have assumed that later prehistoric populations of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
made sense of megaliths by making connections. This
assumption may be generalised on the basis of the insight that nothing is
meaningful in isolation. If this is indeed the case, it follows that recipients
will always link a given object or idea with their own knowledge, associations,
examples, and ideas, in order to give them meaning. As Ian Hodder (1997:
694) stated, "conclusions are always momentary, fluid and flexible as new
relations are considered." Any additional links suggested
for this work are therefore very welcome (they would not contradict but
confirm my position).
Finally, what about the 'monumental past'?
I have borrowed the term from Nietzsche, but I have been uncertain from the
beginning whether the connection to his work is meaningful for this work.
Nietzsche uses the term 'monumental' in a metaphorical sense (1909: 17):
"The great moments in the individual battle form a chain, a high road for
humanity through the ages, and the highest points of those vanished moments
are yet great and living for men; and this is the fundamental idea of the
belief in humanity, that finds a voice in the demand for a 'monumental' history."
'Monumental' is, for Nietzsche, a history that is petrified and buries the
living (Young 1993: 4). But I use the term 'monumental past' in a different
sense, referring to physically monumental ancient structures such
as megaliths with which many living generations were, and indeed are, surrounded
in their everyday lives and landscapes. Not all
receptions of monuments refer to a great and 'monumental'
past in the sense of Nietzsche. The link to Nietzsche
thus leads nowhere.
Hodder, Ian (1997) 'Always momentary, fluid and flexible': towards a reflexive
excavation methodology. Antiquity 71, 691700.
Nietzsche, Friedrich (1909) The use and abuse of history . In: F.Nietzsche,
Thoughts out of Season. Part II, pp. 3100. The Complete Works
of Friedrich Nietzsche. O.Levy (ed.), vol. 2, part 2. Edinburgh and London:
Young, James E. (1993) The Texture of Memory. Holocaust, Memorials and
Meaning. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.