A Distant Perspective: Characterization of Britain and Ireland in Studies of Large-Scale Exchange

Author(s): Allison Casaly

Year: 2018


Archaeologists often characterize the Bronze Age by a pronounced expansion in long-distance interaction, which resulted in contact, whether direct or indirect, between disparate geographical areas. The centrality of this notion to the definition of the Bronze Age has resulted in numerous studies addressing such large-scale exchange of material culture and/or ideology. When incorporated into such studies, Britain and Ireland are often lumped together under the moniker of "the British Isles." This paper examines the rhetoric surrounding discussions of long-distance communication and trade in the Bronze Age, specifically regarding use of the term "British Isles" in the archaeological literature. In particular, it considers whether the studies of long-distance interaction tend to homogenize Britain and Ireland under the umbrella of southern England, resulting in the glossing over of the rest of Britain and Ireland as marginal and insignificant, or in the blanket attribution of southern English characteristics to Britain and Ireland as a whole. Finally, this paper considers whether modern geographical understanding reflects that of groups in the Bronze Age, and how geographical understanding could have influenced the delineation of group identity. Particular attention is paid to methods of transport and communication, and how these may have shaped conceptualizations of geographical features.

Cite this Record

A Distant Perspective: Characterization of Britain and Ireland in Studies of Large-Scale Exchange. Allison Casaly. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443783)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -13.711; min lat: 35.747 ; max long: 8.965; max lat: 59.086 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 21472