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Along the Margins? The Later Bronze Age Seascapes of Western Ireland

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 July 2018

Colin P. Quinn
Anthropology Department, Hamilton College, Clinton (NY), USA
Ian Kuijt
Department of Anthropology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame (IN), USA
Nathan Goodale
Anthropology Department, Hamilton College, Clinton (NY), USA
John Ó Néill
Lifelong Learning Institute of Technology, Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland


This article presents the results of multi-scalar investigations into the Later Bronze Age (LBA; 1500–600 bc) landscape of Inishark in County Galway, Ireland. The European LBA along the Atlantic coast was characterized by the development of long-distance maritime exchange systems that transformed environmentally marginal seascapes into a corridor of human interaction and movement of goods and people. Archaeological survey, test excavation, and radiocarbon analysis documented the LBA occupation on Inishark. The communities living on Inishark and other small islands on the western Irish coast were on the periphery of both the European continent and of the elite spheres of influence at hillforts in Ireland; yet they were connected to the Atlantic maritime exchange routes. A focus on small coastal islands contributes to a better understanding of LBA socioeconomic systems and the development of social complexity in Bronze Age societies.

Dans cet article nous présentons les résultats de recherches sur l’âge du Bronze final (1500–600 av. J.-C.) conduites à diverses échelles sur l’île d'Inishark dans le comté de Galway en Irlande. La croissance de systèmes d’échange au long cours caractérisait l’âge du Bronze Final européen le long de la côte atlantique et a transformé des paysages marins marginaux du point de vue environnemental en corridors d’échanges humains et de circulation de marchandises et de personnes. Une série de prospections archéologiques, de sondage et de résultats d'analyses radiocarbone nous a permis de documenter l'occupation d'Inishark à l’âge du Bronze final. Les communautés qui habitaient sur l’île d'Inishark et d'autres petites îles de la côte ouest de l'Irlande étaient en marge du continent européen et des sphères d'influence des élites occupant les sites de hauteur fortifiés de l'Irlande, mais elles étaient aussi reliées par un réseau d’échange maritime. En mettant l'accent sur les petites îles côtières, nous sommes en état de mieux comprendre les systèmes socioéconomiques en place à l’âge du Bronze final et l’évolution de la complexité sociale au sein des sociétés de l’âge du Bronze. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

In diesem Artikel werden die Ergebnisse von mehrstufigen Untersuchungen über die spätbronzezeitliche (LBA, 1500–600 v. Chr.) Seelandschaft von Inishark in County Galway in Irland vorgestellt. Die Entwicklung eines maritimen Fernhandels, welcher die ökologisch marginalen Seelandschaften in einen Korridor von menschlichen Beziehungen und Verkehr von Leuten und Gütern verwandelt hat, kennzeichnet die europäische Spätbronzezeit entlang der atlantischen Küste. Archäologische Geländeaufnahmen, Sondagen und 14C Analysen belegen die Besiedlung von Inishark in der Spätbronzezeit. Die Gemeinschaften auf der Insel Inishark und anderen kleineren Inseln an der westirischen Küste waren am Rand des europäischen Festlandes und des Einflusskreises der Eliten in den befestigten Höhensiedlungen in Irland; jedoch waren sie auch mit dem Netzwerk des maritimen Fernhandels verbunden. Der Schwerpunkt auf die kleineren Inseln der Küste ermöglicht es, die spätbronzezeitlichen sozialwirtschaftlichen Systeme und die Entwicklung der sozialen Komplexität der bronzezeitlichen Gesellschaft besser zu verstehen. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

Copyright © European Association of Archaeologists 2018 

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