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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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Iron Age Ireland

Iron Age Ireland

Continuity, Change, and Identity

(p.449) 20 Iron Age Ireland
Atlantic Europe in the First Millennium BC

Katharina Becker

Oxford University Press

The Irish Iron Age presents an archaeological record that seems to consist primarily of chronological, regional, and topical gaps, the most startling one being the lack of settlement and other domestic evidence. This archaeological reality stands in stark contrast to the general perception of Ireland's present-day identity being firmly rooted in a prehistoric Celtic past. Archaeological research now widely rejects the notion of an invasion or even a large-scale influx of Celtic people into the country. Although some degree of cultural continuity of the Iron Age with the Bronze Age has been stressed, it is still unclear how we should interpret the La Tène-style material culture of the period and the various problems it raises. This chapter argues that the key to understanding and interpreting the artefact record is to abandon the notion that it is a direct reflection of people's ethnicity, the areas they inhabited, or the items they used in everyday life. The high degree of selectivity and the patterns of association in the artefact record suggest that it is the product of complex filtering processes. As such, it reflects the utilization of material culture for the expression of particular social and regional identities at various levels.

Keywords:   Irish Iron Age, artefacts, archaeology, Celtic past, filtering, material culture, social identities, regional identities

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