Diffusion of Mediterranean traits to central and north-western Europe during the middle Iron Age is a topic well rehearsed now by three generations of archaeologists. The stimulating recent exhibition Golasecca at the Musée d’Archéologie nationale in France, showed that – funds permitting – plenty of scope remains for research.
Elaborately made imports, at for instance the Heuneburg, Vix or Hochdorf, have been interpreted as evidence for how aristocrats adopted Greek and Etruscan styles to reinforce their status and regional power between about 600 and 400 BC. Art historians revealed how their bronzesmiths responded selectively to templates from not only states to the south but also eastern nomads. Archaeologists worked out how goods were brought up the Rhône valley by the enterprising Greeks of Marseille or by the northerners themselves exploiting that colony. The ‘trade’ is thought to have encouraged development of social complexity. More recently, to demonstrate the recipients’ ‘agency’, attention has focused on potters’ responses, adoption of coinage and writing and ‘feasts’ for chiefs to show off ‘prestigious’ exotica to rivals, clients or tributaries. Similar models of trade, ‘appropriation’ and sociopolitical development have been developed for the Late Pre-Roman Iron Age and the Roman Iron Age.