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date: 17 December 2017

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses the myth of the chief in Europe during the Bronze Age. It shows that the European Bronze Age societies were originally labelled as ‘warrior aristocracies’ or ‘petty princes’, but are now generally imagined as chiefdoms. The article defines chiefdoms as ranked and centralised societies that are led by chiefs and are usually seen as a developmental bridge between bureaucratic states and egalitarian societies. It then studies the adoption of bronze as an important factor in the arrival of social stratification and its use as prestige goods, and introduces the concept of ‘wealth finance’. The article also argues that it is time to form a new way of thinking about the forms of institutionalised and male-dominated hierarchies which are often included in literature on the European Bronze Age.

Keywords: chief, chiefdoms, warrior aristocracies, bureaucratic states, egalitarian societies, bronze, social stratification, prestige goods, wealth finance, male-dominated hierarchies

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