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Assembly sites: arenas of interplay between the elite and wider community in Late Iron Age Scandinavia

Author(s): Alexandra Sanmark

Year: 2017

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This paper investigates the interrelationship between the elite and the wider community at Scandinavian assembly (thing) sites in the late Iron Age. Monuments suggest that these sites were designed by the elite for the performance of elite rituals, such as legitimising power and kingship. At the assembly, laws involving ethnic identity and group belonging were publicised and enforced and the sites themselves must therefore have had a role to play in the creation and upholding of collective identities. Community activities and rituals, which most likely and created collective memories and strengthened social cohesion, were enacted. Many of these activities may have been designed by the elite, but equally the idea of assemblies as communal spaces may have been collectively driven. Assemblies therefore formed arenas of interplay between the top-elite and the wider population; kings were elected and ruled through the assembly, while at the same time continuously dependent on the endorsement of the people. This enduring concern for thing sites and associations is also richly evident, attesting to the potent role of meeting-places as curators of local identity over the longue durée.

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Assembly sites: arenas of interplay between the elite and wider community in Late Iron Age Scandinavia. Alexandra Sanmark. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430560)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16847

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America