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Warfare and Violence in the Iron Age of Southern France

Mags McCartney
Publication Year:
161pp. Illustrated throughout
ISBN 10:
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This study aims to identify patterns of warfare in the southern French Iron Age through examination of the documentary, settlement, iconographic and osteological evidence for warfare in this region, each within its chronological context and in tandem with one another. The Iron Age of southern France remains relatively unknown in the English-speaking archaeological world. The best known aspects of the archaeological material suggest a society in which warfare was an overriding preoccupation. Major, fortified centres, such as Entremont and Saint-Blaise, and the tradition of 'warrior statues' like those from Entremont and Roquepertuse, suggest that conflict was a recurrent theme. Literary sources, such as Poseidonius have described the indigenous populations of this area as a volatile and warlike people who took the heads of their enemies from the battlefield and displayed or preserved them in their settlements. Finds of skulls, some with nails still embedded in the bone, appear to verify such reports. The pattern of warfare which emerges from this analysis is then discussed within some of the more prominent models of social-anthropological study. This case study offers a more nuanced and contextual interpretation of warfare in the southern French Iron Age and demonstrates how, if treated as a form of social interaction, rather than a breakdown in social norms, might be integrated into wider archaeological interpretations of social and political change.