Conference Publication Details
Mandatory Fields
William O'Brien;
The British Chalcolithic: Place and Polity in the later 3rd Millennium BC
The Chalcolithic in Ireland: a chronological and cultural framework.
Optional Fields
Prehistory Archaeology Chalcolithic Bronze Age Neolithic Ireland Beaker culture Copper metallurgy
Allen, Michael J; Gardiner, Julie; Sheridan, Alison; McOmish, David

This paper considers a distinct period of metal production and use in Ireland at the end of the Neolithic, spanning the second half of the third millennium BC. This ‘Chalcolithic’ or ‘Copper Age’ was marked by a widespread adoption of copper and gold prior to the introduction of tin-bronze metallurgy c.2000 BC. Metallurgy and other material innovations were introduced to Ireland at this time through contacts with the Beaker network of exchanges. The rapid spread of metal use was facilitated by the discovery of important sources of copper and gold. Yet, the Irish Chalcolithic was much more than a technological phase, but was also a time of ideological change, social transformation and possibly language development. A new society emerged out of the older Neolithic culture, heavily influenced by indigenous contacts with Britain and Atlantic Europe. The cultural relations and chronology of this period are examined. The paper affirms how the concept of a ‘Chalcolithic’ remains relevant to any understanding of what was a highly formative period in Irish prehistory.

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