Recent research has stressed the fundamental role of monuments and material culture as objectifications of new modes of thought and the changing character of social relations during the Neolithic. The Mesolithic/ Neolithic ‘transition’ in Europe has been argued to have been primarily neither technological nor economic in character but a matter of changing ideologies or modes of thought mediated through material forms (for example, Hodder 1990; Thomas 1991, 1996; Tilley 1996a). Thus if we are to talk about causality, the Neolithic was a matter of mind, a triumph of the will, a new set of ideas, over matter and circumstances, a new way of organising social labour and expressing relationships to others through monument construction, the symbolism of pottery and polished stone axes, of herding domesticates and tilling the soil. In northwest Europe the debate has focused on whether a Neolithic way of life was adopted as a kind of package by final Mesolithic hunter-fishergatherers, inspired from the outside through the expansion of farming populations across Europe, or whether the adoption of Neolithic elements was a highly localised selective, differential, and indigenous development, which is

my own view (Tilley 1996a). Looked at on a broad scale, multiple transitions were taking place at different times and in different places, so much so that the very conceptual veracity of the terms Mesolithic and Neolithic may inevitably be questioned. What we term the Mesolithic and the Neolithic had hundreds, if not thousands of different manifestations. Are there any common themes?