Session: #49

Theme & Session Format

6. Material culture studies and societies
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Luxury in Life and Death in the European Iron Age. Identity - Elite Networks - Economy - Arts and Crafts
What defines an elite within a society? It may be the ability to exercise power and domination; it may be the access to specific resources. Or it can be conceptualized as the degree of centrality and connectivity within a communication and/or interaction network.
In the context of archaeological research, this last approach has the advantage that precious objects and materials, as remains of material culture, allow a reconstruction of relationships over long distances. During the Iron Age, luxury items made of precious or exotic materials were used by elite groups as symbols of power and prestige, and they were deposited as grave goods or in hoards. They can be seen as proxy variables to identify multiple highly dynamic and dense networks of influences from different regions, near and far.
The structures and mechanisms of these networks depend on the selected parameters: for example, a network of imported vessels is different from the network of precious materials like amber, especially when stylistic or craftsmanship characteristics are taken into account.
How do the networks of different precious materials and prestige objects differ? What conclusions can be drawn from this for the social structures of Iron Age societies? Do some places show a distinct betweenness or bridging centrality that made them operate as connectors between two cultures? And do other sites display a pivotal role as hubs or junctions within a local or regional social group, perhaps as centres of fine metalwork crafting?
In this session, we would like to bring together all these different perspectives on elite connectivity during the Iron Age, in order to obtain an even more detailed picture of the dynamic and complex
processes during this period.
Iron Age, Arts and crafts, Precious materials, Network analysis, Elites, Trade
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:
Session associated with CAA:
Session associated with DGUF:
Session associated with other:


Main organiser:
Sebastian Fuerst (Germany) 1
Marilou Nordez (France) 2
Barbara Armbruster (France) 2
1. Curt-Engelhorn-Zentrum Archäometrie gGmbH
2. Laboratoire TRACES (UMR 5608), Université Toulouse 2 Jean Jaurès