Making metal and forging relations: Ironworking in the British Iron Age

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    This article explores the social significance of metalworking in the British Iron Age, drawing ethnographic analogies with small-scale, pre-industrial communities. It focuses on iron, from the collection of ore to smelting and smithing, challenging the assumption that specialized ironworking was necessarily associated with hierarchical chiefdoms, supported by full-time craft specialists. Instead, it explores more complex ways in which social and political authority might have been associated with craftwork, through metaphorical associations with fertility, skill and exchange. Challenging traditional interpretations of objects such as tools and weapons, it argues that the importance of this craft lay in its dual association with transformative power, both creative and destructive. It suggests that this technology literally made new kinds of metaphorical relationships thinkable , and it explores the implications through a series of case studies ranging from the production and use of iron objects to their destruction and deposition. © 2007 The Author; Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)395-413
    Number of pages18
    JournalOxford Journal of Archaeology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


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