Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
O'Brien, W.
Prehistoric Conflict Research: Materialisations of Conflict. 3rd International LOEWE Conference
Metal in the Landscape: a Materialisation of War and Conflict in the Irish Bronze Age?
Fulda, Germany
Invited Lectures (Conference)
Optional Fields
Third Loewe Conference, Fulda. Metal in the Landscape: a Materialisation of War and Conflict in the Irish Bronze Age? William O’Brien University College Cork This paper will explore connections between metalwork in the landscape and the conduct and consequences of warfare during the later Bronze Age in Ireland, c.1400–700 BC. The focus will be on the deposition of weaponry in rivers, and the hoarding of valuables in bogs. The tendency in modern research has been to interpret these metal finds from wet contexts as highly structured deposits of a symbolic nature, placed in liminal environments that had special significance in social and religious terms. The possibility of some direct or indirect connection with war has not received adequate consideration. As territorial boundaries, rivers would be obvious settings for conflict, with confrontations at fording points leading to loss of weapons in battle. These may also have been intentional deposits, connected to the death of a warrior near that location. The possibility these deposits were made on boundaries may in itself represent an assertion of territory, an act of defiance, or an expression of ritualized violence. They may also signify the celebration of a military victory, involving a ritualized destruction of the weapons of the vanquished. These possibilities illustrate how the use of weapons as funerary or votive offerings does not preclude a close association with warfare. While no Tollense-type battlefields have been discovered in Ireland, understanding the deposition of metal in rivers and bogs is one way to investigate the landscape context of war. This can also be examined in relation to the significance of contemporary hillforts as power centres and strategic targets in the warring societies of the Bronze Age.
LOEWE-Schwerpunkt Prähistorische Konfliktforschung Universität Frankfurt