In Praise of Small Things: Death and Life at the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age Burial of Bolores, Portugal

Katina T. Lillios, Anna J. Waterman, Jennifer Mack, Joe Alan Artz and Liv Nilsson-Stutz


This volume presents the results of archaeological research conducted at the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age burial site of Bolores between 2007 and 2012, which built on work carried out in 1986. Bolores is a small site (5 x 3 m), yet the analysis of itsstructure and associated materials have yielded a rich and nuanced picture of a small population of people who lived, and died, in the third and second millennia BC in the Portuguese Estremadura. Although our research focused on the small-scale, it also attempted to bridge this perspective with the larger social and cultural dynamics at play during the time. It advocates, in its own way, for greater attention to the micro-scale: small sites, small objects, bone fragments, and details in ritual practice. In a time when Big Data, Big History, and global phenomena loom large in public and scholarly imagination, we think it is also important to understand the variegated texture of local, small-scale social practices, which, after all, are linked to broader sociocultural phenomena and hold the key to understanding resistance and social change.