Archaeology - 'Soft prehistory'

Habitat Research, using the ethno-(pre-)historical method (Wernhardt) suggests to complement the 'casual-find' (or rubbish [Gordon Childe]) syndrome of archaeology and prehistory by a new method called 'soft prehistory'. Material culture of recent villages is defined phenomenologically as a whole, without classifying apriori according to disciplines (economy, religion, art). The differentiation is according to the local ontological value system. If we now - ethnologically - find fibroconstructive signs and symbols in the centre of this value system, we can use this paradigm and check it historically and archaeologically.

There is an enormous wealth of such perishable symbols of high ontological value on durable materials in many cultures (lifetrees, stelae, columns) and it is particularly found in the transitional field where traditional agrarian societies adapt to new techniques with durable materials which were transmitted to them by superseding higher/ urban cultures.

German archaeology of the 30ies, probably inspired by their finds in Uruk (clayplates with a 'very early fibroconstructive' script), worked with this method of 'soft prehistory' (W. Andrae, H. Heinrich, and others).

Further, from its comparative standpoint, habitat research concludes that environmental conditions are very similar in agrarian societies, even if cultures are far apart geographically and temporally. It is then legitimous to assume ethno-(pre-)historically similar structural conditions around similar symbols.

The insight is considerable: such symbols were cyclically renewed nuclei of local territorial constitutions (H. Kees for Ancient Egypt). The mythical homo religiosus fades away, a new homo territorialis is shown.

Working with this method implies a highly detailed knowledge about 'fibroconstructive' industries. The movie, showing the process of construction and its result, the forms, gives a first introduction to the method of 'soft prehistory'.