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date: 21 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

For many archaeologists, the warrior remains a central icon of the European Iron Age, although warfare is largely ignored by others. This chapter critiques and contextualizes the notion of the ‘warrior’ in a variety of social contexts, ranging from middle Iron Age Wessex, late Iron Age Gaul and Dacia, the Sarmatian ‘horse peoples’, to the Germanic confederations of the Roman Iron Age. Considerable archaeological evidence exists relating to armed violence: weapons and equipment, military infrastructure, and pathological data, alongside iconography and classical texts. Some European Iron Age societies developed war-making capacities far beyond the Celtic warrior stereotype, with powerful and sophisticated armies, while mercenaries mastered Greco-Roman military practices. Other societies invested heavily in weaponry, but armed violence was probably largely interpersonal rather than intercommunal. The chapter seeks to develop more sophisticated ways of understanding the use of the sword, literal and figural, in the European Iron Age.

Keywords: violence, warrior, warfare, weaponry, fortifications, armour, massacre, conflict

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