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From Chiefdom to State in Early Ireland


  • Date Published: October 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107015630

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About the Authors
  • This book tracks the development of social complexity in Ireland from the late prehistoric period on into the Middle Ages. Using a range of methods and techniques, particularly data from settlement patterns, Blair Gibson demonstrates how Ireland evolved from constellations of chiefdoms into a political entity bearing the characteristics of a rudimentary state. This book argues that early medieval Ireland's highly complex political systems should be viewed as amalgams of chiefdoms with democratic procedures for choosing leaders rather than kingdoms. Gibson explores how these chiefdom confederacies eventually transformed into recognizable states over a period of 1,400 years.

    • Expands upon the anthropological chiefdom model with medieval Irish data
    • First application of pattern recognition analysis as dating technique for drystone architecture in a medieval European context
    • Puts forth the argument for autochthonous state development in early medieval Ireland
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'The title of this handsomely produced book will have specialists in the archaeology and history of protohistoric and (early) medieval Ireland salivating.' Anna Leone, Antiquity

    'This ambitious and wide-ranging interdisciplinary study … is carefully argued and provides much food for thought.' Landscape History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107015630
    • length: 341 pages
    • dimensions: 258 x 182 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.87kg
    • contains: 81 b/w illus. 26 maps 15 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Theoretical considerations
    2. The climate and geology of Clare
    3. Clare's chiefdoms at the dawn of history
    4. An early medieval chiefdom of northern Clare
    5. Reconstructing the social order of Irish chiefdoms through settlement
    6. Of settlements and boundaries: reconstructing the chiefdom of Tulach Commáin
    7. The rulers of Tulach Commáin
    8. The world of Brian Boroimhe
    9. The world of Caithrém Thoirdhealbhaigh
    10. The political topography of late medieval Clare
    11. An overview of the social and political systems of Thomond.

  • Author

    D. Blair Gibson, El Camino Community College, Los Angeles
    D. Blair Gibson is a professor in the Department of Anthropology at El Camino College and the director of the college's Anthropology Museum. He has published articles in a number of journals, including the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology and the Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Colloquium. He is the editor of two books, Tribe and Polity in Late Prehistoric Europe (with Michael Geselowitz) and Celtic Chiefdom, Celtic State (with Bettina Arnold).

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