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Iron Age Societies at Work: Towns, Kinship and Territory in Historical Analogy

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date23/04/2019
Host publicationHistorical Ecologies, Heterarchies and Transtemporal Landscapes
EditorsCeleste Ray, Manuel Fernández-Götz
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (electronic)9781351167727
ISBN (print)9780815347750
<mark>Original language</mark>English


The last centuries BC were a period of profound changes across numerous regions of temperate Europe, witnessing the development of the fortified towns known as oppida and an expansion of socio-political networks and economic activities. In this paper, our aim is threefold: 1) summarize some current debates on Iron Age societal structures, 2) discuss the different levels of aggregation of Late Iron Age societies and their structuring through assemblies and central places and 3) introduce the historical example of the medieval “town and land”(villa y tierra) communities—administrative entities composed by different kinship groups—as a possible analogy that can help improve our understanding of the interconnections between kinship groups, towns and the rural world. Rather than providing clear answers or proofs for theoretical models, we have conceived this paper as a “food for thought” piece. The use of historical sources has been at the heart of Carole Crumley’s work for many years (eg Crumley, 1974). While we will never be completely sure about “how Iron Age societies worked”(or did not, to paraphrase the title of Hill’s 2006 paper), we should continue the endeavor of proposing new models based on an interdisciplinary approach.