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Burials and Society in Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Ireland / Cormac McSparron (2021)


McSparron_2021 [Néolithique / Protohistoire]
Cormac McSparron (2021) - Burials and Society in Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Ireland, Oxford, Archaeopress, 132 p. EAN 9781789696318 / Epublication 9781789696325, 41,00 € / 19,00 €.

Burials and Society in Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Ireland describes and analyses the increasing complexity of later Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age burial in Ireland, using burial complexity as a proxy for increasing social complexity, and as a tool for examining social structure. The book commences with a discussion of theoretical approaches to the study of burials in both anthropology and archaeology and continues with a summary of the archaeological and environmental background to the Irish Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age. Then a set of criteria for identifying different types of social organisation is proposed, before an in-depth examination of the radiocarbon chronology of Irish Single Burials, which leads to a multifaceted statistical analysis of the Single Burial Tradition burial utilising descriptive and multivariate statistical approaches. A chronological model of the Irish Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age is then presented which provides the basis for a discussion of increasing burial and social complexity in Ireland over this period, proposing an evolution from an egalitarian society in the later Chalcolithic Period through to a prestige goods chiefdom emerging around 1900 BC. It is suggested that the decline of copper production at Ross Island, Co. Cork after 2000 BC may have led to a ‘copper crisis’ which would have been a profoundly disrupting event, destroying the influence of copper miners and shifting power to copper workers, and those who controlled them. This would have provided a stimulus towards the centralisation of power and the emergence of a ranked social hierarchy. The effects of this ‘copper crisis’ would have been felt in Britain also, where much Ross Island copper was consumed and may have led to similar developments, with the emergence of the Wessex Culture a similar response in Britain to the same stimulus. .

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