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Title: Social organisation in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley from the Late Bronze Age to the Middle Iron Age
Author: Davies, Alexander John
ISNI:       0000 0004 6059 0866
Awarding Body: Cardiff University
Current Institution: Cardiff University
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis is an account of social organisation in the Upper and Middle Thames Valley from the Late Bronze Age to the end of the Middle Iron Age, c.1150-100 BC. This is approached through the integration and synthesis of various different types of evidence, including houses and settlements; metalwork; pottery; depositional practices; human and animal remains; 'special deposits'; monuments; and landscape boundaries. Patterns have been found within each period that cross different types of evidence. These patterns relate to underlying internal social and conceptual logical systems. Qualitative and quantitative methods are used, and comparison between periods is an important feature of the analysis. This demonstrates the 'non-functional', culturally specific nature of many aspects of material under study and how it was treated in the past. The thesis begins with an exploration of the role that material culture plays in ways that people create identities and community relationships. The following four chapters each discuss the archaeology and interpret the social organisation of a different period. Much of the Late Bronze Age archaeology is characterised by two features: the repeated destruction and abandonment of objects, settlement and place; and the plain, undifferentiated nature of the material culture. It is argued that Late Bronze Age communities were relatively fluid; identity was not structured around lineage, and differences in status not particularly marked. In the Late Bronze Age, three distinct areas within the study region have been identified, each with differences in various types of material culture and depositional habits. The Late Bronze Age/Early Iron Age Transition is argued to have been a truly transitional period between two distinct types of social organisation. In the Early Iron Age, ancestors were being increasingly identifed with, as material culture, settlements and hillforts were passed down and used by multiple generations. Ancient and foreign exotica were acquired and appear to have been employed in the negotiation of power relationships. Aspects of ritual practice and material culture were becoming more heterogeneous. The segregation of smaller, more distinct social groups continued in the Middle Iron Age, shown in part by the construction of boundaries around the household. Hillforts were a focus for deposition. The final chapter charts changes in various aspects of the archaeology before discussing process and causes of social change. A reassessment of the pottery chronology of the period is also included.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: CC Archaeology