Narratives of Rise and Collapse: Fragile Urbanism in Early Iron Age Europe

Author(s): Manuel Fernandez-Gotz

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Ephemeral Aggregated Settlements: Fluidity, Failure or Resilience?" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

While traditional research on early urbanism has focused predominantly on ‘successful cities’, i.e. urban settlements that show long settlement histories, recently scholarship has also started to pay increasing attention to cases of short-lived agglomerations which only lasted for some decades or generations. In this paper, I will present a case study from Early Iron Age Central Europe: the so-called Fürstensitze (‘princely seats’) that developed between the late 7th and the late 5th centuries BC. These sites were complex central places with evidence for significant political, economic and sometimes also religious functions. They were part of a wide network of exchanges that connected them with other areas of temperate Europe and also the Mediterranean civilizations. However, their development was a fragile phenomenon, and after some generations all of them were abandoned or experienced a marked decline. How should we interpret their rapid rise, but also rather abrupt end? Are we dealing with a societal collapse, with a resistance to centralized power formations, or with an adaptation to changing exterior circumstances? And what can we infer more generally about non-linear cycles of transformation, and about fragile urbanization processes?

Cite this Record

Narratives of Rise and Collapse: Fragile Urbanism in Early Iron Age Europe. Manuel Fernandez-Gotz. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450705)


Iron Age Other Urbanism

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): 23083