Power, control and social agency in post-roman northern Iberia: an archaeological analysis of hillfort occupations

2018. English

The occupation of hillforts may be considered as one of the most radical and noticeable changes undergone by Western Europe’s post-Roman landscapes. These sites have traditionally been interpreted from a top-down perspective, usually linked to such monocausal explanations as the Barbarian invasions. However, the archaeological data shows that hillfort occupation was a complex, multi-faceted phenomenon that does not strictly conform to such interpretations. Multi proxy spatial analyses based on regional and comparative approaches constitute a powerful tool for a more complex social analysis which can further our understanding of this phenomenon. Evidence gathered in northern Spain over the last decades makes this region a perfect case study to test these analyses. Hence, we will propose three different models to approach hillfort occupation related to different mechanisms deployed by communities inside them to exercise power and control over peoples and resources. We will argue that, as well as constituting military nodes, hillfort occupations can be understood as an adaptive process of post-Roman elites to reproduce domination and inequalities over local communities and resources at a time of rapid and profound structural changes.
Early medieval Iberia. Hillforts. Archaeology. Spatial analyses. Power and control. Social agency.
Journal or series
Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies
2018 Taylor & Francis
Volume 10(3)
Pages 295-323