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Atlantic Europe in the First Millennium BCCrossing the Divide$
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Tom Moore and Xosê-Lois Armada

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567959

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199567959.001.0001

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How Did British Middle and Late Pre-Roman Iron Age Societies Work (if they did)?

How Did British Middle and Late Pre-Roman Iron Age Societies Work (if they did)?

(p.242) 10 How Did British Middle and Late Pre-Roman Iron Age Societies Work (if they did)?
Atlantic Europe in the First Millennium BC

J. D. Hill

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the key challenge for studying the Pre-Roman Iron Age in Britain and Ireland is the lack of satisfactory frameworks to understand how societies were organized. It suggests that, despite regional differences across Britain and Ireland c.300 BC to AD 40, there may have been a wide ‘family’ of social forms that shared many family resemblances in how they operated and similar internal pressures that drove their trajectories of change. The chapter also questions archaeologists' descriptions of later European prehistoric societies as a triangles, that is, markedly hierarchical and dominated by a small distinct social elite at their apex. It suggests that many societies in Iron Age Ireland and Britain can be seen as members of the same broad family of social forms sharing some of many common features to a greater or lesser degree. These features lack a small, distinct ‘elite’, and instead demonstrate more ‘flat’ ‘corporate’ societies that often showed a marked emphasis on the community, with land and resources to a greater or lesser extent controlled communally.

Keywords:   Iron Age, Britain, Ireland, archaeology, European prehistoric societies, hierarchical society, social forms

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